Peace without Justice in Darfur Is Unjust

Kuel Jok puhumassa Suomen Kristillisen Rauhanliikkeen tilaisuudessa Rauhanasemalla. Kuva: Heikki Jääskeläinen.

Event: Darfur -seminar
Time: Saturday August 9th, 2008 from 2pm – 4pm
Place: Palvelutalo Esplanad, Kuningattarenkatu 7
Tickets: Free Entry
Languages: Finnish and English (Kuel’s talk is in English)

A paper Presented to the Seminar Organised at Loviisa Peace Forum, under the Theme: “Darfur, Burma, and Global Ethics” from 6 – 9 August 2008

By Kuel Maluil Jok

Institute for Asian and African Studies
University of Helsinki.
P.O.Box 59 (Unionkatu 38B)
Helsinki, Finland.
Office Tel: +358-9-191-24183
Fax: +358-9-191-22094.


In practical term, Islam has had success in homogenising the part of Sudan, from Darfur at the west, the east, the far north and the centre as “Northern Sudan of Muslim Arab” in exclusion of the Christians and Animists of South Sudan. Darfur was an independent state, but because of being entirely Islamic, it was easy to be annexed to the ‘Nile Sudan’ in 1916, but, the contradictory political approaches of the successive Arab Muslim in control of power and wealth revive ethnic lines than Islam as a model of homogeneity. The Muslim Arabs control power and wealth and marginalise the indigenous Muslims of Darfur, since that time of its annexation to the ‘Nile Sudan’ in 19161.

1. Foundation of Ideological Organisations.

On 30 of June 1989, the current President of Sudan Field Marshal Lieutenant General Omer Hassan Al- Bashir seized a democratic elected government militarily and named his coup de’etat as ‘National Salvation Revolution’. In February 2003, a collection of armed men from indigenous ethnic groups of Darfur, mostly Fur, Massaliet, Zagahwa rebelled and attacked a police station in Jebel Mara, southern Darfur. The rebels underlined that state marginalises their region in power and wealth sharing. After this assault, the group formed itself into a guerrilla organisation, namely, the ‘Darfur Liberation Front’ (DLF) and chose, Abdul Wahid el- Nur from Fur to lead the movement. The Sudan Liberation Movement (SPLM), which is an organisation composed mainly from the Southern Christians and Animists influenced the DLF to change its name into a wider movement that echoes the ideological discourse of creating a ‘New Sudan’. The SPLM defines ‘New Sudan’ as a Sudan, where laws for citizens are entirely secular and that would make all citizens to be equal in national institutions of the state, irrespective of race, gender, ethnic, moral conscience and religion2.

Under this perspective, the organisation dropped the name DLF and changed into Sudan Liberation Movement, SLM as a political section and Sudan Liberation Army, SLA, a military wing.

The majority of Fur embraced these two organisations; however, there is a second rebellion organisation, Justice and Equality Movement, JEM. Most of it recruits are mainly from Zagahwa3. It draws much of its support and combatants from Zagahwa subsection of Kobe and the SLM/A recruits come from Tuer and Bideyat, Fur as well as from Massaliet and Zagahwa. In contrast, the SLM introduces a secular political orientation to its recruits and the JEM has never uttered a separation of state from religion, Islam. Instead, it remains highly receptive to Islamic ideological discourses of the global Islamists4.

2. Genocide and UN Investigation.

In reaction, Al-Bashir resorts to the exploitation of ethnic diversity considering the race as the denominator. Under the race, two terms arises ‘Arabs’ versus ‘Africans’. Religion of God that unifies them as ‘Umma’ (nation in faith) with the indigenous population of Darfur is suspended. Al-Bashir recruited Muslims from Arab origins in Darfur, known now as ‘Janjaweed’ and armed them to fight as proxy soldiers against the indigenous people of Darfur.

In this scenario, Fur, Zagahwa and Massaliet were attacked at their villages and killed. Until today, the figure of the death toll in Darfur is unknown, houses of the victims are incinerated, and their wealth is looted. The escapees into the sanctuary of UN organs at camps continue to experience systematic assaults from Janjaweed on their women for forced sexual satisfaction. Al-Bashir regime intentionally continues to place impediments to access humanitarian aids for them.

In 2004, the United States of America delegated its private commission to investigate the nature of violence the region and reported that ‘genocide’ was committed by Government of Sudan against the indigenous ethnic groups of Darfur. This definition raised an alarm at United Nations, UN premises in New York and UN Security Council adapted on 18 September 2004 Resolution1564 condemning Sudan government of killing its citizens. During the voting of this resolution, eleven members of the Security Council voted for it, however, China, Russia, Pakistan, and Algeria abstained from voting5. On 7 October 2004, the UN set up a five-man panel, known as the ‘United Nations International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur’. This commission was mandated to investigate the reports that genocide has been committed in Darfur. The Italian judge, Antonio Cassese headed the commission with the membership of the UN staff from different nationalities. The panel involved Mohammed Fayek, an Egyptian, Diego Garcia –Sayan of Peru, Hina Jilani from Pakistan and Therese Striggner Scott, a Ghanaian6.

On 31 January 2005, the UN Commission of Inquiry reported that the government had not committed genocide, but engaged in crimes against humanity and war crimes that may be no less serious and heinous than genocide. A body of reliable information indicates that war crimes may have been committed on a large scale, at times as part of plan. It added that there is a wealth of credible material which suggests that criminal acts were committed as part of widespread or systematic attacks directed against the civil community. In the opinion of the Commission, these amount to crimes against humanity. The Commission concluded that government of Sudan and janjaweed are responsible for “serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law amounting to crimes under international law”7.

After this report of the commission that ruled out genocide, the commission remains in conflict with three bodies, USA, the indigenous people of Darfur and other human rights institutions. First, USA rejects the report of the Commission as the Spokesman of the State Department; Richard Boucher insists, “We stand by the conclusion that we reached that genocide had been occurring in Darfur. And we think that the continued accumulation of facts on the ground, that conclusion…we reached and continue to hold. Nothing has happened to change those conclusions. We stand by those conclusions”8. This author presented a question that states; “What is your evaluation to the violence in Darfur” to more than fifty indigenous Fur, Massaliet and Zagahwa in Sudan and the response was ‘genocide’. One answer attracted my attention came from a Fur who states “My evaluation to what I have witnessed in Darfur justifies to me that genocide was committed. People of my ethnic group, the Fur are hunted in the area as were wild beast simply of being Fur. It is, because the USA is embedded in Iraq; we would have not continued to die in Darfur. US, understands humanity and China understands economic interest”9.

International Criminal Court”, ICC has collected its evidence and defines the practises of government, under Al-Bashir as ‘genocide’. According to Prosecutor of the ICC, Luis Moreno Ocampo “…there are reasonable grounds to believe that Omer Hassan Al-Bashir…… bears criminal responsibility for the crime of genocide, under article 6(a) of the Rome Statue, killing members of Fur, Massaliet and Zagahwa” in Darfur. He concludes that “information summarised above give reasonable grounds to believe that the person, Al-Bashir committed the crimes alleged” and “respectfully requests the issuance of an arrest warrant”10.

3. Responses to the Call for the Indictment of Al-Bashir.

The search for the indictment of President Al-Bashir tests the international community to choose between irresponsibility and responsibility towards the implementation of justice. For the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, it is a responsibility for the world to become conscious that justice is the climax of sanctifying humanity. It is a responsibility that has no exception, “nobody can evade” it including Al-Bashir11 and United States, even though not a member of the ICC, its Special Peace Envoy to Sudan, Richard Williamson states “let me make it clear that the United States does not believe there should be impunity. United States believes that restorative justice is important in societies that gone through trauma and certainly where there has been genocide”12 such as Sudan. For the dogmatic adherents of the regime such as Sudan, UN Ambassador, Abdel Mahmoud Mohamed, Al-Bashir is above justice. He is the limit of the “sky”.

Darfur is our contemporary epitomised centre, where the regime of the President regulates orders to Arab militia to kill, to displace to rape women, to loot and to practise all forms of activities which amount to ‘genocide’. The UN Rights Commission charges Khartoum of active blockade of humanitarian aid, noting that aid workers have been continually ambushed and looted. It details numerous cases of rape of Darfur’s African women, including some who were told they were being raped, so they bear children with Arab blood. Victims who sought justice from the government of Al-Bashir were frequently abused, instead of restitution. More than half of the indigenous Darfur’s non-Arabs are displaced. Having completed active genocide in phase I of its campaign, the government has now moved onto phase II of the “genocide- attrition”. In an area encroached by the harsh Saharan desert, Darfur’s displaced requires active humanitarian aid and resettlement back into villages for survival. Instead, the government has actively blocked aid and prevented any possible return of the displaced to their homes. The Commission concludes that phase II of genocide allows non-Arab Darfurians to whither in overcrowded and undersupplied refugee camps13.

Under these few mentioned catastrophic scene, Al-Bashir remains as the limit at the ‘sky’ and a pious Islamic leader that his system is intertwined with the religion, Islam, even if his quality of leadership practises ‘crimes against humanity and genocide’. Addressing and grooming some young men and women for militia at Omdurman Stadium in Khartoum, Nafi Ali Nafi Presidential Assistant states the issue of ICC indictment to the President is “an intention against the sovereignty, unity, wealth, religion and faith…. This sovereignty was not identified on negotiation……but through the gun which our enemies know”14.

It is a typical paradigm for the leaders of Sudan, whenever there is an issue of a serious concern at an international agenda, some of them quickly resort to religion (Islam) as the scapegoat of explaining their political iniquities to the citizens of the sovereignty, but for some Muslim Arabs, this claim carries no substantial truth, religion of God, Islam is irrelevant. The ICC follows its procedure of justice as it is an obligatory norm irrespective of religion. Abdel Rahaman Al-Rashid, a Saudi Columnist at Shraq al-Awast Newspaper explains “All Darfur victims are Sudanese Muslims and the Sudanese President is not the only African leader to be prosecuted as he was preceded by Liberian President Charles Taylor. Also, Slobodan Milosevic, a Christian was indicted for genocide against Bosnian Muslims”15.

In addition, Sadiq Al-Hamed, a Saudi journalist states “The Sudanese regime could have avoided a lot if they handled the crisis wisely and in a humanitarian manner rather than stubbornness and challenging the international community”16.

Ordinary citizen such as Al-Hamed urges the leaders to treat the manmade catastrophe in Darfur in a ‘humanitarian manner’, but for the regional organisations of Arab League (AL) and African Unions (AU) ‘humanitarian disaster’ citizens is oblique line and choose to stand with the regime that commits murder, genocide and rape of women. Having heard about the demand of the ICC Prosecutor for the warrant arrest of Al-Bashir, the Arab Foreign Ministers held an emergency session in Cairo, Egypt on 19.7.2008 to deliberate over this issue. We thought that the ministers would support justice and encourage A-Bashir to cooperate with the ICC; unfortunately, they optioned to support injustice in their final communiqué. Their communiqué claims that we “called for giving the priority for political settlement…and called for an international high profile summit to push the political process in Darfur”. Algerian Foreign Minister, Mourad Medici argues “What the prosecutor of the court has done is a dangerous precedent. We have to take…a strong stance in solidarity with our brothers in Sudan and more effectively with regional and international organisation and the states in Security Council to immediately reconsider this demand by the prosecution”17.

The political rhetoric of the Algerian Foreign Minister needs analysis. First, who are Sudanese ‘brothers’ to Arab League that require their ‘solidarity’ and who are not ‘brothers’? This is the typical modernity of Arab League to its citizens. Some are ‘brothers’ and some who experience genocide are excluded from the territorial identity as non-‘brothers’. The same model of leadership quality that stands with the ruler and denies the ruled in Africa was echoed at the communiqué of the African Unions (AU). On 21 July 2008, the AU had its meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. After the meeting, it addressed the Security Council urging it to “suspend ICC indictment of Al-Bashir”18.

In practise, ‘National salvation revolution’ of Al-Bashir is an ideological revolution that intends to eradicate contrary political opinions within the institutions of Sudan by dismissing all forms of political settlement and placing redlines on issues of concerns in power and wealth sharing. It understands only the language of weapon and not negotiation as it applies extreme Islamic ideology that takes power by force in the name of Islam and commences to threaten its dissidents to its ideological discourses with arms. It is a radicalised system that leaves no political negotiation to any one lacking a responding equal power that threatens its existence. It understands one language, ‘force’. The regime transforms itself into a theocratic manner and raises its ideological power manifestation under the slogan that “whatever taken in force must be restored back in the same way”19.

This slogan has changed, after the demand of the ICC Prosecutor for the warrant arrest to Al-Bashir. The ICC has created a new political environment, where Al-Bashir adopts patient, listening, negotiation and tolerance to the opinions of other political forces in Sudan. Sara Eisa, an indigenous scholar from Darfur living in exile observes and writes “ICC has transformed the political language of Al-Bashir. Before, whenever he visited Darfur; he dressed military uniform just to open military installations and used a threatening language such as “‘I do not want the wounded nor war captives, but the killed ones’”20. Additionally, unpublicised meeting of the National Congress (NC), a party of Al-Bashir was held, under the Chairmanship of Al-Bashir in the presence of influential members of the regime, such as Ali Osman Muhammad Taha, Vice President of Sudan, Mustafa Osman, former Foreign Minister and currently Political Advisor to Al-Bashir, State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ali Karti and others. Karti made a presentation to the NC leadership party in which he outlined that Ahmed Haruon, State Minister for Humanitarian Affairs and Ali Kosheib be extradited to Hague as a protection from further indictment. Hague has issued warrant to arrest to Haruon and Kosheib, under allegation of having committed ‘genocide’ in Darfur21.

Al-Bashir visited Darfur on 23 July 2008 and spoke of the necessity of reaching a consensus for the inclusive peace for all the people of Darfur. He accepted some demands of the rebels, such as the refund of those indigenous people whose their possessions were destroyed and looted, negotiation with the JEM which he had ruled out before to negotiate with it after its attacked to the capital city, Khartoum on 9 of May 2008. Finally, this phenomenon of indictment restores peace to Darfur.

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