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A Final Move to Exterminate the People of Darfur by Dr. Anne Bartlett is a Professor at the University of San Francisco
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Feb 2, 2010 - 10:42:04 AM

A Final Move to Exterminate the People of Darfur

 

Recent months have witnessed an attempt to shift attention away from Darfur, yet the situation in the West of Sudan is anything but quiet. What is going on today in Darfur is nothing short of a systematic attempt to wipe all traces of traditional Darfuri life from the map. Not only is wholesale fraud is being perpetrated by the Sudanese government in advance of the forthcoming elections in an attempt to re-engineer land ownership in the

region, but those who are still on their land in Jebel Marra are being subjected to fresh attacks by the Janjawiid. All this while the international community looks the other way; all this while Scott Gration promotes the disingenuous argument that everything is fine in Darfur.  

 

In the last few days there have been some dangerous developments in Darfur. Pushing hard into Jebel Marra as far as Quila, the Janjawiid have been able to penetrate through the defenses of the mountain and deep into rebel held territory. This action has had disastrous results. For local people, the Marra Mountains were the last bastion of self defense from the onslaught of the Sudanese government. They were a place where people in the lower territories could flee when subjected to attacks by the Sudanese government and its militias. As of today however, those high in the mountains have been driven down to the Nertete area which is now the site of huge camps of refugees round Estraina and Gaar Jebel. In this area there is next to no food, medical supplies or assistance in any form. Those who have been forced to flee are now hungry and without any shelter whatsoever because the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) has refused to cooperate with the few aid organizations that can provide help.

 

If the final push is being made to eliminate local people from their lands by force in the Jebel Marra, then this is also being accompanied by another more insidious operation by the Sudanese Government. Elsewhere in Darfur in advance of the forthcoming election in April, the government is bringing new residents to Darfur – residents that are more amenable to National Islamic Front (NIF) ideas. In many of the areas that have been depopulated following the burning and looting of villages, new communities are springing up, populated by people brought in from Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad and other West African countries. These new residents have been given retrospective citizenship papers by the Sudanese government - sometimes going back ten or 20 years - and have been registered as voters in double quick time. Keen to ensure that these new supporters can register their support for the NCP, the Sudanese government has moved an entire voter registration office from Khartoum. The real irony is that these “fake” Darfuris have been given jobs in the local security apparatus to patrol – guess who – the very people that they have displaced and who are now forced to live in IDP camps.

 

This ongoing tragedy leads one to question what diplomacy is all about. Is it, Mr Gration, a blatant attempt to cover the truth with half lies and expedient policies that serve US geopolitical interests? Isn’t genocide about intent? If so, isn’t a campaign to systematically annihilate people and replace them with good NIF supporters enough evidence for you? You claim that you have been to Jebel Marra, but where exactly have you been looking? I am quite sure that many of the people huddling around Nertete without food or shelter tonight don’t subscribe to your idea that everything is O.K.

 

For those in the US administration and the international community in general, one wonders what “never again” actually means. Does it mean politically expediency in dealing with the Sudanese government for the war on terror, while turning one’s back on innocent people being murdered in Darfur?   Does it mean political expediency in prioritizing the elections and the forthcoming referendum in the South, while ignoring the very same dynamic that produced these problems, now playing out in Darfur?

 

All of these misplaced priorities mask fundamental cracks in the apparatus of government of Sudan that may be papered over in the short term, but will ultimately come back to haunt the country in the future. They also mask fundamental cracks in the foreign policy priorities of the United States and the rest of the international community. The sad fact is that most of the fundamentalism problems that the world is experiencing today started in Sudan with its policy of sponsoring Jihadists and fundamentalists. Darfur’s problem today, is everyone’s problem tomorrow. For you, Mr. Gration this is the legacy that you will leave to the people you were supposed to protect both in the U.S and Darfur. The big question is however, is it a legacy that you can be proud of?

 

Dr. Anne Bartlett is a Professor at the University of San Francisco. She may be reached at [email protected]



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