On this International Day for Tolerance, we are mindful of the ongoing violent attacks on innocent Darfuri civilians that prevent the full enforcement of human rights in Sudan. The legacy of former President al-Bashir’s genocidal campaign in Darfur is alive and well, and the people of Darfur are still suffering. The international community must NOT turn a blind eye to what is happening in Sudan.
As a result of al-Bashir’s systematic efforts to wipe out the ethnic African populations of Western Sudan, over 3 million people remain displaced and have been forced to live in internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps or ones located elsewhere, all with limited humanitarian assistance. We know that more than 80% of these people are women and children, with dire needs for nutrition and medical interventions exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A countless number of women and girls have been the victims of genocidal rape by the Sudanese government and its allied militias. Due to the stigma and fear associated with rape, many have been left to suffer in silence. The failure of the international community and Sudan’s transitional government to prosecute perpetrators of sexual violence against women has created a culture of impunity for those who violate women’s rights.
No justice has been brought to the perpetrators of genocide and gender-based violence in Darfur, and al-Bashir has not been held accountable, despite ICC warrants for his arrest. Even after his removal from power in 2019, following mass protests in Sudan, military commanders from his regime were included in the new transitional government. In order to establish a future of accountability and justice, the interim government of Sudan must immediately remove all those accused of genocide from power and prosecute them for their crimes in Darfur.
Alarmingly, ongoing attacks by government forces and police across the Darfur region continue to displace innocent civilians. Women and girls are at significant risk of gender-based violence, and rape prevails as a tactic of these violent attacks on villages or IDP camps. We at DWAG are extremely worried about the removal of UNAMID peacekeeping troops at the end of the year, which will be replaced by government-led soldiers that are completely incapable of protecting civilians from harm and still continue to violate human rights in Darfur.
Tolerance is a first step in building long-lasting peace in Sudan, by fostering mutual understandings among different communities and government entities. The people of Darfur were singled out for systematic killing specifically because of their identity. The former government also targeted people of different faiths by attacking Christians from the Nuba Mountains and South Sudan. It is imperative that peace in Sudan first starts with promoting a culture of tolerance and acceptance of its diverse population.
Today and every day, let us be a voice for the women of Darfur, empower survivors, and seek justice for victims of gender-based violence and genocide. We thank our supporters for their tireless efforts to raise awareness of the situation in Darfur. With your help, we can make strides towards comprehensive peace and justice in Sudan and pressure the international community to act.