By: Gamal A. Adam
September 20, 2005
The African Union Mission in Sudan (AUMS) is expected to play a relatively even role in its ceasefire-monitoring mission in Darfur. I intentionally added the adverb “relatively” to the adjective “even” because I am fully aware about who the dominant members of the AU are and what can be expected from them if a member country transforms segments of its citizens from subjects to objects. However, I think the way the AUMS reacted against the incidence of Al-Malam (23-24 August 2005) needs more analysis.
I am from Kidinyeer which is only about 28 kilometers to the northwest of Al-Malam and studied junior high at Al-Malam Junior High School for Boys. I know most of its population and have special relationships with many of them some of whom are even my relatives. Al-Malam is originally part of Dar Umo whose center is Kidinyeer and one of its Omda’s wives is my cousin. Its population includes Fur, Bani Mansour, Birguid, Borno, Makhuria and Dajo. From Al-Malam to the west, southwest, northwest, north and northeast are areas of the Fur. And from it to the south and southeast are Borno and Birguid and to the east are Fur and Bani Mansour. All these people are sedentary people and practice farming, herding and trading. Their herds include cattle, sheep and goats but no camels. Only some individuals owned one or two camels which they used for transportation and in working the land. The camels, which the individuals owned in this area, were almost all stolen during the period of banditry (1983-late 1990s). Individuals from camel herding nomad origin were among the dominant camel bandits.
Al-Malam and all its surroundings is the homeland of sedentary population some of whom practice herding but never herded camels. All Darfurians including honest camel herders can publicly attest that the homeland of the camel herders in Darfur is to north of North Darfur. However, they used to seasonally migrate to the west of Darfur (late October-early November) and then back to the north (late June- early July). My parents’ farm was located along the line that was considered as camel passage and I remember that camel herders used to address as khadam (singular khadim) and ‘abeed (singular ‘abd) to the farmers who tried to push camels away from their farms. On their camel back, the nomads often gave a couple of lashes to the farmers who tried to force the camels out of their farms. Like many of our neighbors, my mother and I often received two or tree lashes each time we tried to drive the camels out of our farm. Khadim refers to female slave in Sudanese Arabic and ‘abed stands for male. Sudanese from Arab origin usually use these terms in their private interactions when they refer to indigenous Sudanese. However, they often address to the latter with these terms when a conflict irrupts between them. The most recent public example is postings by a group of Northern Sudanese as a reaction to the chaos that followed the announcement of Dr. Garang’s tragic death (check www.sudaneseoffline.com). Some of the people who addressed to Southern Sudanese as ‘abeed in that website and incited other Sudanese to massacre them are living in Khartoum and some of them are probably relatives of the top country’s rulers; but none of them was arrested because the rulers themselves use the same terms in their private meetings and informal gatherings with their relatives.
We hear these days that camel herders have almost permanently occupied the areas between Nyala and Jabel Marra as well as southern and southwestern slopes of Jabel Marra whose population is forcefully relocated by the government of Khartoum and is reduced to “refugees” near the big towns and cities in their own country. My sources further indicate that some individual camel herders have now combined the fruit selling with camel herding. They have occupied villages and orchards whose original owners they have driven away. Ironically, some displaced individuals are buying fruits of their own trees from camel nomads. In this occasion I would like to make it clear to all those who are concerned with the situation in Darfur that the current South Darfur governor, Alhaj ‘Atalmannan, has since mid 1990s been involved in the relocation of indigenous people and settlement of West African Arabs in their deserted villages. The village that is cynically renamed Umalgura near Yara (about 60 kilometers to the north of Nyala) is the example of such a criminal behavior. In 1990s, ‘Atalmannan adopted the policy of grouping the sedentary population under his administration into towns so that herders could stay in their evacuated villages and farms.
My sources emphasize that camel herders some of whom are Chadian were brought by Khartoum to the areas whose population was relocated. They have been brought to Sudan as part of Khartoum’s project of arabizing the country. Most of the young men among them have been recruited in Janjaweed, popular defense forces, and other divisions of Khartoum’s forces. Unlike the regular army, individuals from camel nomadic origin who are involved in Khartoum’s project of Arabism receive orders directly from Khartoum and they are paid twice as higher than the regular soldiers: first they are paid for their terrorist activities against the indigenous population and second for the horses and camels on whose back they terrorize the sedentary population. The nearest evidence of this is when individual Janjaweed invaded offices of South Darfur Ministry of Finance as a way of pressuring Khartoum to pay the over-due money that it promised them during gentleman agreements with Khartoum (check www.sudaneseonline.com of August 20, 2005).
The labeling of the AUMS to the individuals from the SLM/A who committed the incidence of Al-Malam as looters is unfair. AUMS needed to do a through study of the circumstance before it issued its judgmental press release which is no different from government of Khartoum’s press release about the same problem.
First of all I have to condemn any violation against innocent civilians regardless of whether it is committed by the government of Khartoum or by any faction of the movements that are struggling to defend indigenous population from being exterminated. But my sources in Darfur indicate that the government of Khartoum planned to send the camel herders to Al-Malam area when it knew that there are some indigenous individuals who returned to their farms to grow some crops. Return of indigenous population to their villages to plant crops is a challenge to Khartoum’s policy of changing the demographic map of Darfur. The nomads herded their camels in the farms for four days after they had harassed the farmers. They even told the farmers that they can complain to Khartoum forces that were stationed in the area. The farmers informed the Khartoum forces that camel nomads were herding their camels in the farms and when they asked the herders to drive their camels out of the farms the latter refused. Khartoum forces replied that that was none of their business. It is important to state that the forces that are operating in Darfur in the name of national army are members of camel nomads and desperate individuals from riverine Sudan. Their commanders are often individuals from Shimalya (North Sudan). Having been disappointed by commanders of Khartoum’s forces in the area, the farmers then went and complained to AU ceasefire-monitoring forces. The AU forces did not go to force herders to withdraw their camels from farms either. The AU and all other regional and international bodies who are concerned with the conflict in Darfur have to understand that there is no longer national army in Sudan. Over 95% of the Sudanese army crops are men from Southern Sudan, Darfur and Kordofan whereas the same percentage of the army officers who give them orders are men from riverine northern Sudan namely from Shaiguya, Ja’alyeen and Dannagla. So the millions who died in the conflict in South Sudan are Southern Sudanese, Darfurians and Kordofanis but the rulers are happy with that since it conforms to their plan of the destruction of indigenous population. The service in Sudanese army and police is a form of slavery which I will discuss in another occasion.
The victories which SLM/A and JEM registered against Khartoum are because the Southern Sudanese, Darfurians and Kordofanis who over dominate the Sudanese army refused to fight in Darfur because they understood that they were killing their own people as some of the police divisions were used to bulldoze the slumps of Khartoum where they live. The refusal of most of the regular army corps to fight in Darfur spurred the government of Khartoum to recruit camel herders and individuals from West African origin in order to use them in Darfur conflict by promising them the ownership of lands of indigenous population. That is why I made it clear in an Arabic article which I wrote in the summer of 2004 that Khartoum will never disarm the Janjaweed and disband them because it heavily dependents on them in its conflict against all the other Darfurians. On other hand, the Janjaweed and camel nomads who produce them have to obey Khartoum because of the land it promised them and because they are worried about their coexistence with the Darfurians whom they fought.
Having practically realized that both Khartoum and African Union’s forces are probably in the area for another mission than protecting them, the desperate farmers contacted the nearest SLM/A faction to their area. Commanders of the SLM/A told the farmers to inform the nomads, the Khartoum forces, and the AU ceasefire-monitoring forces to withdraw the camels from the farms otherwise SLM/A soldiers will come to withdraw them and if any of these (nomads, Khartoum forces and African Union forces) blocks their way SLM/A will attack it. The farmers reported SLM/A’s warning and the ultimatum it gave to all three parties (the nomads, Khartoum forces and to African Union forces) to withdraw the camels from the farms and the area altogether. But none of these took the issue seriously. After the ultimatum they gave expired and the camels were still herding in the area, the SLM/A faction sent its soldiers who withdrew the camels from the farms and abducted the men who harassed the farmers.
SLM/A knows that most of the camel herders are involved in Khartoum’s project of Arabism: they settled in the areas whose population is relocated; they over-dominate Khartoum militias and its intelligence; they assassinated and raped indigenous people, mutilated their bodies and desecrated their mosques and thousands of copies of the holly Koran in particular. Moreover, they caused a serious environmental damage in the indigenous areas which they occupied: they removed a lot of trees.
If AUMS was as really serious as it claims to be, why did not it question Khartoum’s new military built-up in the area that started since early August 2005 including the transportation of weapons some of which my sources describe as very dangerous to the areas as far as Wadi Saleh? If AUMS was sincerely concerned with what was happening to every civilian in the region why did not it condemned the rape of nine women from Nyala and Kalma Camp (6-16 September 2005) and abduction of sixteen men and women (11-13 September 2005)? Some of the victims of rape are still admitted in the hospital in Nyala for treatment (SOAT at www.sudaneseonline.com 19/9/2005). Why AUMS did not condemn Khartoum’s attack to indigenous civilians in a mosque of Taweela and several other areas in North Darfur or even yesterday’s (Monday September 20, 2005) attacks on areas controlled by SLM/A? And above all why AUMS has never condemned Khartoum’s abduction of indigenous individual civilians in the cities which has never stopped since the war in Darfur drew the attention of the international community and the government launched all its possible offensives against indigenous Darfurians? AUMS would have got surprised to hear about the presence of camel herders in areas such as Al-Malam, Jabel Marra and Nyala had its officials studied Darfur’s demographic structure before 2002.
Another question is: “Why Arab camel herders are the only segment of Darfur population whose members have the right to tour the region from north to south and from east to west while almost all the other segments are either forced to stay in refugee and displaced camps and cities or incarcerated in government prisons?” It is because the Arab camel herders and a couple of other Arab groups from Chadian background are the only segments whom Khartoum represents in Darfur. As hinted earlier, they are very loyal to it because it promised them since mid 1990s that they would occupy the land of indigenous population after they would relocate the latter.
My observation shows that most of the Darfurians and human rights activists worldwide are frustrated in the way the AU is handling the situation in Darfur. They at least expected to hear the AU’s condemnation to the government of Khartoum for having started the first genocide in the twenty-first century only to satisfy the nostalgia for an illusive past. Yet some African countries such as Egypt and Libya are supporting Khartoum in its obstruction of justice. I was surprised when I heard that Egypt was sending some troops to Darfur to participate in the AU ceasefire-monitoring mission because the government of Egypt mobilized all its apparatuses to justify the innocence of Khartoum from the crimes it committed (check Salah Fadl and Huyam al-Ibs Mushkilat Darfur wa al-Salam fi al-Sudan July 2004; reports of Egyptian medical team to Darfur). If the government of Egypt really wanted the stability of Sudan it would not be the first government to recognize the NIF dictatorship that toppled down the democratic government or at least it would not have sentenced to a slow death the Sudanese refugees from whom the NIF government removed the basic citizenship rights and sought refuge in its territories where they are living in a limbo situation of neither citizens, nor refugees nor even respected foreigners. Again it was during Bashir’s visit to Mubarek (about two days ago) when Bashir declared that the cabinet of the government of national unity was complete only to surprise Sudanese and the observers that are concerned about Sudan with the government of the violation of national unity. It sounds that Bashir and his clique formed the government of the violation of national unity in the absence of SPLM/A. Then Bashir went to Cairo to get Mubarek’s support in advance about Khartoum’s reaction if SPLM/A refuses the offer and decides to declare its own independent state in the south because the validity of Naivasha Accord has already been violated. Bashir, Mubarek and their cliques believe that the government which they have just announced is an offer for SPLM/A and not its right since Sudan is no longer a country but an enterprise of looters who transform entire ministries to individual ownerships (check www.sudaneonline.com 1/9/2005; Atteib Mustafa at www.sudanile.com 13/9/2005).
I think that it is almost impossible that the NIF will ever accept that SLM/A and JEM touch the 52% of its share of power from Naivasha Agreement even though it violated several clauses of the same agreement in less than a year. It uses Naivasha Peace Accord only to prolong its life in power hopefully with the support of Egypt and other Arab countries that believe the rule of Sudan by Sudanese other than those who identify themselves as both Arabs and Muslims will threaten the Arab culture and Islam. On the other hand, I do not think that SLM/A and JEM will accept to talk with NIF government on 14% that is considered by Naivasha as for the rest of the political forces in the north without making it clear which north it means- the political north or the geographical north. The political north is the colonial invention and it never existed in reality. However, the hypocritical elite of the geographical north used it as a disguise by which it co-opted all the Sudanese except the Southern Sudanese. But the disguise of the political north is blown away when Darfur and East Sudan stood up against the oppressive north. The geographical north is again challenged when some Nubians also talking about injustice.
As JEM and SLM/A will never accept that the NIF government give them part of the 14% which is a leftover from Naivasha Peace Accord, it is most likely that NIF will resume its offensives against all Darfurians, except camel herders and some other Arabs from West African origin. This time it will launch its atrocities in the name of the so-called the government of national unity to further humiliate SPLM/A and other forces that have accepted the NIF’s offer. NIF has already humiliated SLM/A several times when it repeatedly invaded the homes of marginalized Sudanese in the slumps of Khartoum a couple of months ago, killed dozens of them and put many others in prison.
Since AU ceasefire-monitoring forces have failed to make ceasefire sustainable and African presidents prefer to keep their club members happy even if they transform their populations to unwanted objects, I think that the UN and other international coalitions have to take over the administration of Darfur to save the destruction of more lives. To avoid further destruction of people and the environment in the region I therefore suggest the followings:
1) The AU ceasefire-monitoring forces be replaced or supplemented by UN and international coalition peacekeeping forces with the mandate of protection of civilians.
2) Immediate withdrawal of Khartoum forces from Darfur.
3) Darfur with its historical border as of January 1956 be put under the mandate of UN and international coalition for seven years.
4) Return of displaced people and refugees to their villages of origin.
5) Khartoum has to be entitled to pay for the reparation of the victimized population and rehabilitation of the destroyed areas.
6) The ICC has to speed up its process of indictment of all criminals of Darfur war whose crimes fall within its scope.
7) Forces of SLM/A, JEM and of other movements that operate in Darfur be united and trained as police and professional soldiers for post war Darfur.
8) Darfurians determine whether their region be an independent state, or part of Sudan or part of any other country they will choose through a referendum after seven years.