Genocide Is Decreed by Another Name in Darfur

A dispatch from Radio Dabanga of today (May 12) makes clear that the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime in Khartoum no longer has any intention of concealing the fact of its genocidal destruction in Darfur. The Rapid Response Forces (RSF) are now the militia army that is doing the bulk of regime's fighting in North Darfur, where violence is greatest. Radio Dabanga and others have chronicled their brutal predations not only in Darfur but other parts of Sudan, including South Kordofan. They are the spearhead of civilian destruction; and if this were not clear from their relentlessly brutal attacks, it is made perfectly clear in an account offered by omda Mukhtar Bosh of Camp Rwanda, North Darfur. In the Radio Dabanga dispatch--a Darfuri news agency in exile, with excellent sources throughout Darfur--we learn what the omda (chief administrator) was told by Colonel Mohamed Hamdan Ahmed, who commands a substantial RSF force of men and vehicles:

A commander of the Sudanese Rapid Support Forces has told people in Tawila locality, North Darfur, that it is a military area now and anyone present there will be a legitimate target for the paramilitary troops--including their money and livestock... "[omda Mukhtar Bosh reports that RSF Colonel Mohamed Hamdan Ahmed] said that East Jebel Marra now has become a theatre for military operations and that whoever is present there, all his money, property and livestock will be seized from them." (my emphasis; entire dispatch appears below)

Either people leave the area to create a free-fire zone--which it now is in any event--or they will see their wealth and means of living taken from them, leaving them without the means to sustain themselves. The 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide foresaw such tactics in ethnically-, religiously-, or racially-targeted human destruction:

Deliberately inflicting on the [targeted] group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part... (Article 2, clause iii)

RSF Colonel Mohamed Hamdan Ahmed's declaration should be shocking, given the extreme dangers that attend displacement in Darfur: he has announced that he and his forces intend to commit massive, ongoing war crimes, crimes against humanity, and--given the ethnic make-up of the populations that have been previously targeted and are likely to be targeted under these new "Rules of Engagement"--genocide.

Let's be very clear about what has happened here: a militia force openly embraced and amply supported by the regime in Khartoum is declaring that it will have as a policy in the conduct of war that will result in the killing of civilians and pillaging of what meager property (mainly livestock) they may have. All that is necessary is that they be in a "theatre of military operations." As all well know, the civilians who will be the focus of this "military policy" will be the non-Arab or African tribal groups of the region, even as they have been the targets of violence since conflict began in 2003.

By way of its proxy military force--the new Janjaweed--Khartoum is declaring that it is willing to countenance civilian destruction as deliberate "military policy." Those who cheered so loudly a decade ago when the "Responsibility to Protect" was unanimously endorsed by the international community at the UN in New York (September 2005) have had little to say about Darfur. Now might be a good time to begin.

Eric Reeves, a professor at Smith College, has published extensively on Sudan, nationally and internationally, for the past sixteen years. He is author of Compromising with Evil: An archival history of greater Sudan, 2007 - 2012 (September 2012)