An Everlasting Genocide
“They never gave me a chance to talk to my child,” said Toona, a Sudanese women. “Some of them dragged my son away, others slaughtered my husband, and some others took me to the side, and tortured me and left me there. My newborn was snatched off my back, and was left lying on the ground. I found him in that situation when they let me go.”* The genocide of the twentieth century is currently taking place in North East Africa, in the country of Sudan and Toona is only one of the countless victims. In Sudan, the city of Darfur is being hit largely by the wrong doings of the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed. It all started in 2003, when the Sudan Liberation Army Movement(SLM/A) and the Justice and Equality Movement(JEM) were fighting for independence in Sudan. They were unsuccessful when the Janjaweed, an army of men used to terrorize the people who attempted to resist was introduced to stop any rebellion in Darfur. Men, women and children are the victims of abuse, rape and cruelty at the hands of Omar al-Bashir and the Janjaweed.
The architects of this atrocious genocide are the President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, and the Janjaweed. The word Janjaweed is from a group of Arabic words meaning outlaws, guns and horses; they are literally men who ride horses and carry their weapons on hand. Omar al-Bashir completely denies that the devastation going on in his country is genocide, yet the leader of the Janjaweed, Musa Hilal, says that their organization is armed and controlled by the Sudanese government. The Janjaweed is an Arab militia that uses Arab Supremacy as their political ideology, and they believe that it is their job to “clean” Sudan of all non-Arabs. When women were interviewed in three villages in Darfur, 40% of them had either witnessed or been a victim of sexual assault. Women are often forced to perform sexual acts in exchange for their basic needs. There is a police force in Darfur but in many cases they have been the perpetrators of sexual assault, as members of the Janjaweed have now been integrated into the police force. How could anyone feel protected in their own village if they knew that the people that are supposed to protect them are the reason for their pain and suffering? It is not only rape that the Janjaweed take part in, they also take part in mass killings and the complete destruction of villages. There are many cases in which the men of the Janjaweed brand women and children; they do this to remind the victims that the Janjaweed is in control.
Omar al Bashir was elected for the second time in 2010, and after that he immediately dissolved parliament and eliminated any existing political parties. This was the president’s way of obtaining complete control of Darfur without the chance of losing his power. Omar al-Bashir signed a peace agreement in February 2010 with a rebel group in Darfur to end the ongoing conflict, but nothing has changed. The peace agreement granted autonomy to the South, and in 2011 Bashir said he would negotiate the option of a referendum on full independence but it is clear that this will never happen. The actions of this president are despicable. In 2010 the International Criminal Court put out a warrant for Omar al-Bashir’s arrest. He is now wanted on the charge of genocide, but the killing still continues. The Janjaweed and Omar al-Bashir need to be stopped and if they do not, it will be detrimental to the future of the Sudanese people.
If this is genocide, then where is the United Nations? The United Nations was set up to protect citizens in these kinds of situations. Are they apathetic? Do they truly not care that millions of citizens that are being killed? Are they choosing to ignore the facts that are clearly stated because it is easier that way? In 2008, the UN Security Council sent in the joint forces of the UN and the African Union to Darfur as peacekeepers, called UNAMID. By the time that the United Nations decided to step in, it was already a full blown genocide. Four of the five super powers in the UN Security Council support the end of this genocide, but one country is still using its VETO power to keep the UN from being fully committed to the prevention of this genocide. China has been trading with Sudan for many years, and China benefits from them being in social, economic and political ruin. China also receives large amounts of oil from Sudan. China doesn’t care that people are dying and that there is utter chaos- they are getting what they want and they don’t care about the toll it will have on the people of Sudan. Where are their morals, or sense of obligation to help those in need?
We have to help the people of Sudan. The effects of this genocide will last a lifetime. Women in this area are being raped, and in some cases becoming pregnant and end their lives because of the shame they feel. These people are not having their basic human rights met: food is scarce, and water is unclean and disease ridden. Lynn Frediksson from Amnesty International states that “In this particular culture men may feel that women who are sexually violated are no longer clean or fit for marriage.” The toll that this has on the women of Sudan is atrocious and cruel and it needs to be stopped. The death toll increases everyday, putting a strain on the people of this destroyed nation.
We, as citizens of Canada, have to stand up to the Janjaweed and Omar al-Bashir. It has been nine years since this genocide started. How much longer will women be raped, and innocent civilians killed until we decide that it is time to start caring about the people of Darfur? There are so many things we can do to help the people of Sudan. The most important thing we can all do is stay informed; check the news or the Internet for what is going on right now in Darfur and spread the word. We can also make donations to the Save Darfur campaign. Lastly, we can start movements of our own; start a Save Darfur Campaign or petition. Small steps can lead to a big difference. Mahatma Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” We need to stand up today and be that change.
*Taken from 60 Minutes: Witnessing Genocide in Sudan (http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-18560_162-648277.html)