by Mohamed Yahya, Damanga
We are saddened by the so-called Doha Peace Negotiations that were signed in Qatar last week between Al-Bashir of the Sudan Government and other groups. This included Dr. Khalil Ibrahim from the JEM- Justice and Equality movement and Dr. Tigani Sessi from the smaller LJM- Liberation Justice Movement.
This was a very controversial agreement that completely neglected the concerns of the majority of Darfuri people. JEM and LJM should have rejected any deal with the ICC Indicted war criminal Omar Al-Bashir. Al-Bashir's arrest warrant was announced by the prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo on March 4, 2009.
The Darfuri people can't accept such deals with a government that has slaughtered more than 450,000 innocent civilians in Darfur alone from 2003 to date. This is a Sudanese government that has not respected its own people or any agreement made before - from South Sudan to Darfur and Beja at the Eastern Sudan.
Peace and human rights are not mutually exclusive choices. We know that real peace begins with respecting our human rights, respecting justice, and respecting human dignity. The process for peace will begin with justice and human rights for the Darfuri people.
We strongly believe that no peace was honored before, especially when made with splintered rebel groups, and when the main core demands of the Darfuri people were not addressed.
• Both parties deliberately ignored even mentioning justice and the accountability in their negotiation agenda.
• They ignored the disarmament of the marauding Janjaweed militias, who are the allies of Al-Bashir government in Darfur.
• They failed to address the replacement of those settled in the villages of the IDP's and refugees.
• Moreover, they failed to recognize that security and ceasefire agreements were never honored by the Al-Bashir government.
Al-Bashir took advantage of the Doha meetings and ordered his Janjaweed and Sudan Popular Defense Army-to attack the "Jabel Marra" area by airplanes and tanks with massive campaign and destroyed more than 36 villages within a week. This resulted in more than 400 causalities, and over 100,000 displaced from the whole Jabel Marra area.
Despite all of this destruction, Al-Bashir has been allowed to continue violating the Darfuri people's human rights of free expressions, movement, assembly, and life itself. The people of Darfur are targeted inside and outside their homes and forced to register to vote for Al-Bashir even by using their food distribution cards. Otherwise, no food or aid is allowed. All kinds of Intimidation and brutal harassment are used against Al-Bashir's opponents.
It is immoral that the whole civilized world leaders are watching this shameful scenario of "honoring the criminals" of the Sudanese government beginning with Doha peace negotiations that seek to legitimize Omar Al-Bashir, who is a man worse than Hitler and Saddam Hussein, coming to power in a fake democracy.
It is also terribly sad to see the U.S. government and the U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan, General Scott Gration, giving support to Al-Bashir and his rogue NIF-National Islamic Front regime that hosted Osama Bin Laden in the Capitol Khartoum in early 1990's for almost five years. This is the same Sudanese government that has terrorized its own people, as well as hosted international terrorists.
It is unfortunate to see the Obama administration, United Nations, African Union, Arab Leagues, European Union, and the Islamic world to come together this time to support this genocidal regime, when they never came together before to support the victims of Darfur. Where has such world unity been to restore justice and human rights in Sudan for a lasting peace? Darfur has largely been abandoned, while the Darfuri people's human rights have been taken away. Too many have accepted a policy to "let Darfur die."
The most shocking phenomena was that even those leaders, such as Dr. Khalil in JEM and Dr. Tigani Sessi of LJM, have shown a lack of leadership because of their power ambitions, their narrow visions of the people's needs, and their unwillingness to prioritize human rights and justice for all of the Sudanese people. At the Doha peace negotiations, these leaders have acted in their own interests, regardless of what the ultimate results will be. Their focus has instead been their personal selfish goals wrapped by tribal circles and political Ideological agendas.
Dr. Khalil was known as a former Mujahedeen leader who fought against our own Christians in South Sudan, inspired at that time by Dr. Hassan El-Turabi. This was before he was being kicked out of power by Al-Bashir, which was the main reason for Dr. Khalil to escape Khartoum to form JEM. It is an issue of personal vindication for him, rather than Darfur cause for him. Both Al-Bashir and Dr. Khalil are old friends and Students of El-Turabi, so they are simply" two faces for one coin" of NIF/NCP.
In addition, Dr. Tigani Sessi of LJM has not been engaged in actively defending Darfur since he left Sudan over 20 years. He has not been popular even with his own FUR Tribe. He was only imposed and recommended by the Sudan government to lead a small group of the LJM at the Doha negotiations. He was engaged because he is willing to listen to the genocidal regime of Al-Bashir and could easily used to pass their agenda through him against the people of Darfur. He has not demonstrated strength and hasn't fought with the rebels anywhere.
This peace is nothing more than a ceremony as many have said. The people of Darfur can't afford another war, but that will be imminent. The new coalition of the National Islamic Front will turn the war against their own people of Darfur.
A "Darfur versus Darfur" war is on the horizon. The Khartoum Arab government will claim to steer clear of such a war, while they also fuel the upcoming phase of the war between the SLA- Abdulwahid faction and other possible alliances from those Darfuri rebels rejected the deal in Qatar. "Slaves against slaves" will be the Al-Bashir government's policy of divide and rule.
The future may also see other possible wars with the same new Islamic alliances against Southern Sudan, even if the South secedes due to the referendum that is scheduled for 2011. There's no guarantee for any lasting peace in Sudan since this NCP/NIF remains in power in the country.
History is repeating itself again In Sudan and it could be for the worst. This is especially true for
Darfur and other marginalized areas that have never enjoyed any significant representation to share power or wealth in their own country since the independence of Sudan in January 1956 from United Kingdom.
This time, the worst form of colonialism will be from fascists and fundamentalists within Sudan itself. Mr. El-Turabi will have renewed influence with Dr. Khalil's arrival to Khartoum or Darfur. Mr. Sadiq al-Mahdi, the former Prime Minister and "Umma Party" leader that pulled out of the power in Al-Bashir's June 1989 coup, will also have renewed influence and power. Dr. Tigani Sessi, who signed on behalf of the LJM in Doha, will be back to Khartoum. It is very sad news for major Darfuri people who will never forget what Sadiq al-Mahdi and Tigani Sessi did to them while the Umma Party was in power. The Umma Party has created the first conflict in Darfur when It favored Arab tribes in Darfur against the black African tribes, and created special militias called in that time " Al-firs an." "Al-firs an" is an Arabic version of the term "the Knights" in English.
Weapons were provided by Sadiq al-Mahdi to arm this "Al-Firs an" militia, which started the attacks against the black farmers while they grow their crops These weapons came from the Umma defense minister and General Fadlalla Burma Nasser, who at that time was part of the Arab tribes. The Arab Firsan militia drove their animals into the farms and started shooting anyone who blocked their animals. It was the beginning of the Darfur war era during that time in the early 1980's .
Then the regional conflict was exacerbated by the war between Libya and Chad. Thousands of pro-Libya fighters (the so-called "Arab Gathering Forces," "Arab Islamic Army Corps," "Olad Salih Group") were allowed by the Sadiq al-Mahdi government at that time to use Darfur territory to attack Chad from East. This happened while Libyan troops were attacking Chad from Libyan borders with Chad. The war between Chad and Libya was known as the "Ouzo War," because both Libya and Chad claimed the Ouzo area belongs to its territory
After being defeated by Hussein Habry of Chad, these forces scattered in the area from Chad to Darfur and Central Africa looking for safe haven. This situation contributed to the disaster of extensive distribution of cheaply sold arms to Arab herders in the area; some Arab herders were given such weapons as free gifts as well. This helped to create the chaos in Darfur from that time, with the Umma Party playing a big role in that conflict.
When Al-Bashir came to the power by coup in 1989, he recruited these same elements, reorganized them, trained them, and paid them salaries, and provided them logistical support to use against the same black Darfuris from Massaleit, Fur, Dajo, Zagawa, Gimir Tama Bargo and other minorities.
Under Al-Bashir's rule, the only difference was that the militia's name of Al-Firsan was changed to "Janjaweed," and the renamed "Janjaweed" militia began using more sophisticated weapons and trucks, in addition to horses and camels.
Most Darfuris will never forget these grievances. They will never forget how Sadiq al-Mahdi of the Umma Party humiliated them in many ways during his two terms ruling Sudan in 1964 and 1986. Mr. Mahdi never made any development in Darfur; no schools, hospitals, or even wells for water were built in Darfur. He advised Darfuris to send their children to" Koranic Khalawas" instead of schools, to prevent them from learning about science and politics, so that would not have the chance to understand their human rights or develop the ambition to demand power for Darfuris.
This is the same mentality of all Arabs of the ruling parties in Sudan. It is their ultimate policy to keep the black African Sudanese -- from Darfur to South Sudan, Nuba Mountains, and the Beja of East -- as illiterate and marginalized so that it will be easier for them to rule over forever.
These tactics have not changed and have only become worse with the Al-Bashir government. They are all the same: NCP, Umma, DUP, Communist, Bathists, and the rest of Arab's current new parties. Sudan and Darfur doesn't need more Mahadis, Turabis, Communists, or Islamists.
Let the people of Darfur and the rest of those marginalized people in Sudan have justice first, then they will decide who they will choose to govern them. Flawed peace agreements have been beginning with Abuja in 2006 with Sudan and SLA splintered factions of Arkuwi Mennawi in Doha. Such flawed peace agreements choose a version of peace that ignores justice and ignores human rights. There is no lasting peace that does not begin with justice and human rights. The only ones who benefit from such flawed peace agreements are the Sudanese genocidal government that seeks to stay longer in power to kill more people and destabilize the entire region.
The US and the United Nations along with the international community must stop the Sudan government from committing more atrocities. We need to hold them all accountable, instead of promoting them. No peace will be without justice, and the only way for long lasting peace in Sudan would be through Justice.
Mohamed Yahya, Damaga
- Mohamed Yahya, Executive Director of Damanga
– Damanga Web Site
– U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Web Site on Sudan
– Damanga Mission
– History of Damanga
– Mohamed Yahya Biographies (Damanga, USHMM)
– "The Meaning of Damanga"