Darfur Union in the UK – Will the New Year Brings a Renewed Hope for Peace in Sudan? Thus far…West Darfur Begs to Differ
The past calendar year was a tough one for our beloved Sudan. The year 2016 was a leap one in the literal and metaphorical senses. It was christened and ended with waves of violence and aggression by the government of Sudan against the civilians across the country, in the capital, major cities, towns, localities and villages. Before getting into the listing of atrocities and the failures of the international community to apply pressure on Bashir regime, the Nertiti massacre committed by Bashir’s army on the 1st of January 2017, has just cemented the government of Sudan approach in Darfur since 2003, which was kill kill kill, cause fear, displace the native population and subsequently cause a forced demographic change in the region. Accumulation of crimes over the last 14 years had lead to the indictment of the only sitting president in the world, Bashir, by the international criminal court (ICC), and the criminal is still at large.
As these words were being put together, another crime was committed by the Janjaweed militia in El-Geneina on Thursday the 5th January 2017, where of 10-20 persons were reported between dead and injuries. Names and ages are yet to be verified. At this rate, the new year’s victim records will be filled before the end of the first quarter of 2017 which the world is standing still.
To add insult to injury, the outgoing Obama’s administration could have not step out of the White House with out granting the perpetrators of Sudan their last wish which is a step towards normalisation of relation with the regime. The baby steps started with a proposal that carries the uplifting of some of the monitory sanctions against the Sudan. The move was based on the “improvement of the humanitarian situation in war zones including west Darfur and most importantly on the full collaboration of the government of Sudan with the US in regards to intelligence exchange and providing access to information about terror suspects,etc…ref 2). All of that and the former US administration was fully aware of the extent of GoS involvement in funding the very war the former administration was fighting; and not to mention the Never Again slogan that the former Illinois Senator pledged to the Diaspora (Darfuri/Sudanese Americans) who voted for him in the DNC primaries and during the two presidential elections, 2008 and 2012.
Nonetheless, while seeking/ waiting for international community to act and to fulfil its pledges to the people of Sudan in Darfur, the ultimate goal is for our people to have one voice and also to gather all their efforts to face the adversity to gain our freedom.
The following is a listing of crimes, atrocities, setbacks committed by the government of Sudan against the people of Sudan in Darfur and the region marginalised students in 2016. The list is far from comprehensive. However it captures the major events which surfaced to the media. They are listed in an approx. chronological order.
a) The targeting of Darfur Students in Omdurman Civil University, in Khartoum by the government security and pro-government militias. The incident happened on the Sunday the 10th of January 2016, after a gathering of student took place inside the university, the troops targeted students from Darfur, beating them with sticks, injuring some with weapons.
b) Simultaneously, hideous crimes have been taken place , in Mouly village, south the city of El Geneina, West Darfur, on the morning of Sunday, the tenth of January 2016. A pro – government militia backed by the Sudan security service personals, have attached a market of the village, causing qauous among the people there, where multiple rounds of live ammunition where used to disperse the gathering crowds. 51 persons were reported dead and hundreds were injured.
c) University of El-Geneina, in West Darfur has been under the spotlight of the pro government militias since the the city’s massacre back in mid January 2016 (ref. http://wp.me/p77ak4-1G). The students there are vocal and have been advocates of freedom since the government war on Darfur began 13 years ago. The pro government militias entered the university main square to disperse a peaceful forum held by the students union. As a result, the militias detained a number of students and one of the detainees was Salah Eldin Gamar, who was tortured to death between the 31 of January – 01 of February (see our full report on http://wp.me/p77ak4-4S).
d) The targeting of students across Sudan. For the second time in a month the NISS personnels have targeted female students (Faculty of Education, University of Khartoum) at their dorm. The militias have thrown the students belongs, and subjected them to harassment and racist/ verbal abuse. The incident happened on the 27th of January 2016.
e) Gruesome reality on the ground. Bashir Air Force has caused havoc in West Darfur. The areas of Jabel Marra, Golo and Rokoro have been under bombardment for more than two weeks, causing a mass displacement of people to the eastern side of the state. According to the latest UN figures, more than 34000 persons fled the areas and now trapped in valleys and mountains, where made it very difficult for aid agencies to reach the vulnerable (as of the 8th of February).
f) In preparation for the government so called Darfur referendum (ref. http://wp.me/p77ak4-2o) , and part of regime plans to dismantle IDP camps, a mini camp known as Aswad, resides in the eastern side of the town of Taweela. The camp was cleared from its residents and the people there were forced to flee and seek refuge in Rwanda IDP camp in Taweela, North Darfur. 28 January 2016.
g) Assassination of a young man by the ruthless pro government militia known as the Rapid Speed Force. The crime took place in El-Mawashi market, El-Fashir, North Darfur, 08 February 2016. Its nature is a reoccurring one. The militia confronted the young man, Abdelaziz Hamid Nour, and asked him to hand his car keys. Abdelaziz refused and moments later he was killed in the busy market.
h) 23 Feb. 2016 – University of Elzaim Elazhari, Khartoum, has been under the spotlight from NISS and the pro government militia in 2016, like many other universities. The militias force entered the university main square to disperse a peaceful forum held by the students union. As a result, the militias detained a number of students and one of the detainees was student Adam Suliman, who was tortured.
i) The university of Zalengi in west Darfur has suspended 9 Darfur students for up to three semesters because they took held a symposium discussing the recent atrocities in Jabel Mara Mount and the constant targeting of students by pro government militias. Freedom of expire tip was banned by the University back three week ago (as of the 7th of March 2016). Below is a list of suspended students.
j) The targeting of Darfur students across Sudan. For the second time in a month the NISS personnels have targeted female students (Faculty of Education, University of Khartoum) at their dorm. The militias have thrown the students belongs, and subjected them to harassment and racist/ verbal abuse.
k) Gruesome reality on the ground. Bashir Air Force has caused havoc in West Darfur. The areas of Jabel Marra, Golo and Rokoro have been under bombardment for more than two weeks, causing a mass displacement of people to the eastern side of the state. According to the latest UN figures, more than 130,000 persons fled the areas and now trapped in valleys and mountains, where made it very difficult for aid agencies to reach the vulnerable.
l) In preparation for the government so called Darfur referendum (ref. http://wp.me/p77ak4-2o) , and part of regime plans to dismantle IDP camps (March 2016), a mini camp known as Aswad, resides in the eastern side of the town of Taweela. The camp was cleared from its residents and the people there were forced to flee and seek refuge in Rwanda IDP camp in Taweela, North Darfur.
m) Assassination of a young shepherd by the ruthless pro government militia known as the Rapid Speed Force. Mahdi Jabir, a shepherd from Kass locality, was guiding his herds in the outskirts of Dougu village on Thursday, March the 10th, 2016, where and when he was informed of an incident involving his aunt Mekka Musa.
For the full report,please click on the following link http://wp.me/p77ak4-6y
n) On the wake of the heinous crimes carried out by the pro government militias against the people of Sudan in Western Darfur, much lead to displacement of more than 130,000 persons and hundreds are between dead and missing, the Sudan government initiated the first few steps of the so-called Darfur referendum. The motive and action could have not come at a worse time. April 2016 marks the 13th anniversary of the government war on Darfur. The rigged results were in favour of the more division to the region of Darfur. The results were disputed by local independent organisations, which were calling for independent international bodies to oversee the referendum process. However the government of Sudan refused the request. Some countries in the international community were vocal in there concern about the results, such as the U.S.
o) After all the aforementioned, and under multiple initiative (Khartoum process etc…) €100 million was granted to Sudan to Tackle Migration problem that is facing the EU. The very government that was waging war against its people which resulted in 1000 of refugees and millions of IDP, the very government was entrusted by the EU to act as the Horn of Africa’s gate keeper. Persons are set up for refugees deported from Italy and allegedly crossing Sudan from Eastern Africa. The decision was met with disapproval from the people of Sudan as it was seen as a sign of normalisation of relation with a tyrant regime whilst the continuum of violence was stopped.
p) Demographics Changes in Darfur Province – Kuguli – North Darfur
It was announced on September the first, 2016 that a new council will be set up and it will be given to the new settlers. The official ceremony will take place on October the first 2016. The original people/ native are from the African tribes (mainly Zaghawa, Fur and others). However, over the past years, and with more people fleeing the prosecution, the GoS brought new settlers from Shattia Arab tribe, to whom the council leadership has been granted. This is not an isolated incident; it has been happening across the region.
q) The use of forbidden weapons by GoS in Darfur
Amnesty International has issued a report on Thursday 29th September 2016 (ref1), regarding the atrocities which took place in western Darfur From January 2016 up to date, with particular emphasis on the use of chemical weapon in Jebel Marra, which lead to killing of children, poisoning of sources of water and displacement of a quarter of a million people (by July 2016). All of the aforementioned heinous crimes came partly because of lack of accountability from the international community. Even worse is the resumption of relation between the government of Sudan and major players such as the EU, and not to mention the Khartoum process, where GoS received hundred of millions of euros to establish detention centres for refugees from the Horn of Africa destined to Europe.
The people of Sudan believe that the change of policies/ approach by the US, UK and the EU toward Sudan has given the GoS the green light to resume its genocidal plans in Darfur, Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains.
Ref. (1) Amnesty International Report on Darfur – 29 September 2016
r) Wadi Sayra and Jabel Moun Atrocities are Part of a Continuum of Violence Against the Civilians of Sudan in Darfur. A number of casualties were reported between dead and injured in West Darfur state as recent as weeks ago, the Sudanese diaspora and friends of Darfur around the world have witnessed on Monday the 31st of October 2016 yet another crime against the civilians of Darfur. This time the crime took place in West Darfur state, were Shepherds from Arab tribes backed by fully equipped pro government militia – Janjaweed – on 50 pickup trucks entered pasture lands belong to Zaghawa Shepherds in Wadi Sayra. The militia started terrorising the civilians, then looting their goods and camels (up to 500 camels). The Zaghawa shepherds tried to defend their belongings and protect their camels and six were shot dead by the Janjaweed guards.
The above accounts are busy no means an exclusive listing of all the atrocities. However, it does highlight the major points captured by independent local and international media outlets, and the sources are from local persons.
The Darfur Union in the United Kingdom is a civil society organisation that aims to promote the just case of Darfur by raising awareness of the humanitarian aspect of the case. Part of the job is to continue to knock on the doors of the decision makers and major players in the international community to push the stakeholders towards peace and stability.
Diplomacy and negotiations are often the best approaches to solve problems, overcome atrocities, and to bring about a lasting peace that would help in healing the wounds and despair of war. However, justice is an ever accompanying factor of peace in the formula of stability. Both usually go side by side. The government of Sudan has committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur, and currently they are repeating the same scenario in Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile State. The war in Darfur is not over yet and scores of people fled western Darfur to IDP camps across the province over the 2nd quarter of 2016. Damning evidence of systematic rape, killing, abuse, torture and imprisonment have been provided by NGOs and whistleblowers who used to work for organisations such as UNAMID. Yet the aforementioned bilateral dealings between UK government and its counterpart in Sudan are ongoing. We plea to Her Majesty’s Government to rethink its position regarding the government of Sudan and its dealing with President Bashir, an ICC indictee.
Furthermore, we ask HMG to continue it support with respect to the following:
1) The process of restructuring UNAMID to be a fully oriented force towards protecting Darfur’s displaced, and also to be more committed to documenting and addressing the aerial bombardment against civilian targets. At the moment the force is weak and fails event to protect its members, let alone the civilian. However, it’s present is important and any attempt of ousting the force and ending their mandate in Darfur will be a blatant green light for the government to speed up the execution of the second genocide in the region.
2) The above point will in turn help to provide a much needed protection to the vulnerable civilians of the marginalised regions in particular the women and children which make the majority of the population of IDP camps scattered across Darfur. As well as excreting more pressure on the GoS to allow/ facilitate access of humanitarian aids (food and medication) to the war areas in Darfur, Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains.
3) The peace process and negotiations needs an independent mediator. We ask HMG to be part of the process given Britain’s historic ties with Sudan and due to the current mediators seeming bias towards protecting dictatorships in the region.
4) HMG should continue its support of the international criminal court and also should push countries not to receive President Bashir for visits. The UK should also urge the ICC to amend arrest warrants in light of recent atrocities and consider advocating for expansion of the mandate to include atrocities committed in South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and other parts of Sudan.
In conclusion, any attempts of a full resumption of bilateral relations between the two governments, especially in regards to the training of military and police personnel as well as the lack of a clear condemnation of atrocities against innocent civilians will give the current government of Sudan the green light to commit more crimes and presume there is no accountability.
More importantly is the much needed unity of all the people of Sudan from all walks of life to rise up to the challenges awaiting us to reach the ultimate goals of stability, peace and justice in our country.
Darfur Union in the UK is wishing you all a peaceful 2017.
Deputy Press Officer – Darfur Union in the UK
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter handle: @Darfurunionuk