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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

PUT DARFUR AND SUDAN ON THE LIST OF PRIORITIES


On Tuesday, December 9, 2008, I am organizing a lobby meeting with U.S. RI Senator
Jack Reed's policy director for Darfur. My U.S. Senator is on the Armed Services Committee. He likes to talk about Iraq - that is the subject that he is asked to talk about on television often.

Senator Hillary Clinton (nominee for Secretary of State) questioned the current and future Secretary of Defense Gates about Darfur
on February 6, 2007 in this youtube video :
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This was at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. Link

On July 22, 2004 the United States Congress took an unprecedented step when it recognized that the ongoing atrocities occurring in Darfur were genocide. However—nearly 4 and a half years later—the genocide continues. So far this year, at least 1,200 people have been killed by direct violence and over 300,000 people have been displaced. 2008 also saw the continuation of the Sudanese government's offensive military overflights in Darfur with 43 attacks. Darfur peace initiatives have failed and the current peacekeeping mission is still largely ineffective.

What’s Needed in Darfur: a Three-Pronged Approach
Peace Surge: An expedited and robust commitment to peace is needed. This will require the selection of a senior official responsible for this issue. The United States must also reach out to interested parties with leverage in Sudan and the region, especially China, the United Kingdom, France and key African countries, to coordinate efforts.

Commitment to an Effective Peacekeeping Mission: UNAMID is failing to achieve its central goal of protecting the civilian population in Darfur. A robust force on the ground in Darfur, with a competent lead nation and a clear command and control structure, is essential for saving lives, creating an environment amenable to the peace surge and establishing the international credibility required to ensure that a broader peace strategy succeeds.

Accountability and Justice: Accountability for crimes against humanity in Darfur remains an essential element of a lasting peace in Sudan. A premature deferral of the cases against Sudan’s leadership through invocation of Article 16 of the ICC’s Rome Statute would set back the cause of peace. The U.S. should veto any UNSC resolution invoking Article 16.


Here are some questions and the preferred answers that cabinet nominees hopefully will be asked at hearings and confirmation meetings in regards to Darfur and Sudan:

Question 1: Is ending the genocide in Darfur a top-five foreign policy priority for the Obama administration?
• Genocide in Darfur has greatly contributed to instability in the entire region. Instability, particularly on this scale, should be a serious concern as it relates to U.S. security.
• Iraq and Afghanistan are important foreign policy priorities, but Darfur should be too.
• The U.S. does not need to send troops to Darfur, but we need a concerted diplomatic effort to get an international peacekeeping force on the ground, get an inclusive peace process, accountability for perpetrators of genocide and crimes against humanity.

Question 2: Under what circumstances would the Obama administration consider Article 16 for the case of Sudan?
• Support vetoing Article 16.
• If Article 16 is going to be invoked, worries that the following won’t happen:
o Peace deal
o Alternative mechanism for accountability
o Evidence that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement has been implemented

Don’t trade accountability for war crimes for empty promises from Khartoum.

Question 3: What steps will you take to reinvigorate UNAMID?
UNAMID, the hybrid U.N.-African Union mission in Darfur, is failing to achieve its central goal of protecting the civilian population in the region.
• Sudanese government cannot be allowed to dictate the terms of UNAMID. We must not allow Khartoum to decide the mission’s force size, national composition, the extent of AU versus international participation, timeframe for deployment, or civilian protection mandate.
• We need a robust force on the ground in Darfur with a competent lead nation and a clear command-and-control structure is essential for saving lives, creating an environment amenable to the peace surge. This will establish the international credibility required to ensure that a broader peace strategy succeeds.

Question 4: Who will have the Sudan portfolio in an Obama administration? To whom will that person report?
• We need a senior U.S. official within the Administration (as high up as possible) to take responsibility for the “Darfur/Sudan Portfolio”. This person will make this issue progressively improve from the day he or she is assigned to the Sudanese issues.

• The reporting structure should reflect the importance of the issue by ensuring that a lead decision-maker in the Administration is readily made aware of any changes on the ground.

Question 5: In 2008, there were 43 reported aerial attacks in Darfur. What will your administration do to enforce the UN ban on military offensive overflights by the Government of Sudan?
The U.N. Security Council has demanded an end to offensive military flights several times, most recently in Resolution 1769, which authorized UNAMID. UNAMID has not enforced that demand. It is clear that the Obama administration and the U.N. Security Council need to consider how best to counter these continuing aerial flights and provocations and then make the plans work.
• What are the nominee’s thoughts on a no-fly zone? What would a no-fly zone entail? How else might offensive military overflights be stopped?

Question 6: Given its dependence on Sudanese oil, China has an interest in a peaceful Sudan. What steps will you take to work with China to ensure that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement holds and that the crisis in Darfur is ended through a negotiated solution?
• We need to change the conversation with China. In other words, appeal to China’s economic interest in Sudan. Use China’s economic interest, as a starting point to work with China on an initiative for peace in Sudan.





Sudan activists fear more arrests over war crimes case

02 Dec 2008 18:12:32 GMT

Source: Reuters

By Andrew Heavens KHARTOUM, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Sudanese rights campaigners are afraid the authorities will arrest more activists suspected of giving prosecutors evidence for a war crimes case against the president, a senior campaigner said on Tuesday. Amir Suleiman, of the Khartoum International Centre for Human Rights, said he and two other activists had been held and later released last week. "We fear that maybe other activists will be arrested," Suleiman told reporters. "We are under pressure all the time." International Criminal Court judges are considering a request made by the ICC's chief prosecutor for an arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, accusing him of genocide and other war crimes in the western Darfur region. International experts say 200,000 people have died and more than 2.5 million left homeless in five years of fighting between mostly non-Arab rebels and government-backed militia in Darfur. Suleiman said security forces repeatedly asked him about his links to the Hague-based ICC during two days of interrogation last week. He denied supplying any evidence to the global court. U.N. officers told Reuters this week that aid workers faced increasing harassment in South Darfur where government officials have forced staff to hand over confidential files and emails to try to collect evidence of collaboration with the ICC. The Sudanese government's Humanitarian Aid Commission in the region denied any harassment had taken place. Commentators say the ICC judges may not reach a decision on the arrest warrant until the new year. Amnesty International said along with Suleiman, security forces detained and later released Osman Hummaida, a British citizen and the former director of Sudanese Organization Against Torture (SOAT), as well as activist Abdel Monim Elgak. (Editing by Katie Nguyen) There was no immediate comment from Sudan's intelligence services.


United Nations Sends Team to Subdue Violence at Darfur Camp

By Heba Aly

Dec. 3 (Bloomberg) -- The United Nations sent a team of armed peacekeepers to a camp for people displaced by war in Sudan’s western Darfur region to calm violence between residents and militia members.

A “quarrel” erupted on Dec. 1 between two so-called Janjaweed militiamen armed with a rifle and residents of the Hassa Hissa camp near the western Darfur town of Zalingei, the UN-led mission, known as Unamid, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. One camp resident was injured, a militiaman was severely beaten and later died, while the surviving militiaman was taken into police custody, Unamid said.

“As a result of the incident, about 30 armed Janjaweed marched toward the camp today, shooting sporadically in the air,” Unamid said. The militia set ablaze five water pumps supplying the camp. Another camp resident received a minor injury during the second incident.

Government-allied militia have been accused of some of the worst crimes in Darfur, where 300,000 are estimated to have died and close to 3 million others forced to flee their homes. Fighting in Darfur intensified in 2003 when mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated government, complaining of marginalization.

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, or ICC, has accused Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir of committing genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur. Under the pretext of counterinsurgency, Bashir armed militias that subsequently burned villages, raped women and killed civilians, the prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, alleged in his summary to the court.

Sudan’s government has said it will take unspecified legal steps to fight al-Bashir’s possible indictment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Heba Aly in Khartoum via Johannesburg at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.

Last Updated: December 3, 2008 03:46 EST

Aid Worker: No Easy Answers In Darfur

Listen Now [3 min 56 sec]

Morning Edition, December 3, 2008 · Jerry Farrell has lived in Darfur for three years and currently runs programs for Save the Children. He describes a lawless region, where peacekeepers can't even patrol camps, and bandits run off with just about anything they can steal. Asked what a new Obama administration could do, Farrell says there are no easy answers other than trying to restart peace talks.

Related NPR Stories

Darfur Women Scarred By Fighting

Listen Now [15 min 25 sec] add to playlist

Halima Bashir

Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur, written by Halima Bashir and Damien Lewis. Random House Publishing Group

Tell Me More, October 23, 2008 · Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur is the first memoir written by a woman caught in the war in Darfur.

The author, Halima Bashir, was born into the Zaghawa tribe in the Sudanese desert.

She received a good education away from her rural surroundings. Halima excelled in her studies and exams, surpassing even the privileged Arab girls. With her love of learning and support of her father, a cattle herder, Halima went on to study medicine, and at 24 became her village's first formal doctor.

Yet, that, nor anything else, was enough to protect her from the encroaching conflict that would consume her land. Janjaweed Arab militias started savagely assaulting the Zaghawa, often with the backing of the Sudanese military. Then, four years ago, the Janjaweed attacked Bashir's village and surrounding areas, raping 42 schoolgirls and their teachers.

After treating the traumatized victims — some as young as 8 years old — Bashir spoke out, igniting a horrifying turn of events.


www.savedarfur.org

www.genocideintervention.net


1-800-GENOCIDE

Contact President-elect Obama:

change.gov


CALL PRESIDENT BUSH:

1-202-456-1111

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