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Human Rights Crisis in Sudan

Genocide has been marked as one of the worst human crisis in history.   This human disaster is defined as destroying a group in whole or in part.   Throughout history we have seen evidence of this destruction.   Rwanda, Cambodia, Somalia, and most notably the Jews during World War II, are only a few examples of genocide in our history.   Most recently this act of violence has been witnessed in Sudan, the largest country in Africa, with a population of 28 million.   Secretary of State, Colin Powell, has stated that there is much evidence of genocide in Sudan, and that the situation in Sudan is a horrible humanitarian catastrophe.

The conflict in Sudan has been raging for years.   In 1956, Sudan achieved independence by the United Kingdom and Egypt.   A great achievement for this country, but it also brought conflict between the populations in Sudan.   In 1955, before independence was granted, Great Britain placed the majority of the civil service and administration in the hands of the Northern Sudanese.   This largely excised the Southern Sudanese from the new Sudanese government. Britain had failed to give equity to both the South and the North, which would bring lasting effects between these two regions.

The northern region covers most of the Sudan and includes most of the urban centers.   The majority of the 22 million people in the North are Muslims who speak mainly Arabic and traditional non-Arabic tongue.   The Southern region contains around 6 million people and is mostly rural, subsistence economy.   Mainly traditional beliefs are practiced here and the South utilizes more languages than in the North.   The South was denied and neglected which brought upon civil war.  

The South was denied a federal system of government promised to it by the Arab-led Khartoum government, which led to a mutiny in the Equatoria Province by Southern troops.   These Southerners began a low intensity civil war to establish an independent South because they felt cheated and disenfranchised by their own government.   In 1971, Joseph Lagu, leader of the southern forces, created the Southern Sudan Liberation Movement.   ANYA Nya, the current military force in the South, also joined with the SSLM.   Before this, insurgency was halted in 1972 when the Addis Ababa Accords were signed granting Southern Sudan wide regional autonomy in internal matters.   It gave the South lack of infrastructure development, serious neglect and major destruction and displacement.   More than 2 million people have died and 4 million have been displaced or become refugees because of this war and the future civil wars that followed.

After the first civil war, Sudan experienced a ten-year hiatus.   Then in 1983, President Nimeiri began to incorporate traditional Islamic punishments, drawn from Islamic Law, into the penal code.   The North and South both experienced this punishment.   This led to a rebirth of the war that had ended in 1972.   Peace negotiations showed little success and a cease-fire agreement in 1989 broke down after six months.   A plan called Operation Lifeline Sudan brought food to Sudan, but many of its donors cut aid to Sudan because of its human rights abuses and pro-Iraqi stance during the Gulf War.   Fighting in the Sudan has continued since 1983 and is continuing to this day.   This has now turned into a humanitarian crisis.

This crisis began when the ruling Arab elite moved onto pastureland of African tribes in the Darfur, which is about the size of France.   Since then black Africans rebelled against the government.   They have created the Sudan Liberation Army, and this group is demanding socio-economic development for Darfur, to end tribal militias, and a power sharing government.   They have mounted attacks throughout Darfur, destroying military equipment and looting military fuel and supplies.   In result, the Khartoum government has responded with heavy air bombings and a large ground offensive.   The Janjaweed, and Arab militia, have been destroying villages throughout Darfur, causing thousands upon thousands to flee to neighboring countries like Chad.   Many people are convinced that the Khartoum is aiding the Janjaweed in their effort to regain control of the region.

This effort has created distress and destruction in Darfur that is now being labeled as genocide.   At a recent Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Colin Powell described the current situation in Darfur, which he had recently visited.   He showed how the situation constitutes genocide.   In the 1948 Convention on the Prevention of the Crime of Genocide, which Sudan is a part of, it created three criterions needed for anything to be called genocide.   First, specific acts are committed, and those acts include, killing, causing serious bodily or mental harm, deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about physical destruction of a group in whole or in part, imposing measures to prevent births, or forcibly transferring children to another group.   Those are acts that, if committed, raise the likelihood that genocide is being committed.   Second, these acts are committed against members of a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.   Third is they are committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, the group as such.

The Janjaweed and Sudanese military forces have committed large-scale acts of violence that meet this criterion.   These acts include murders, rapes and physical assaults on non-Arab individuals.   They have also destroyed villages, much of the time the same village more than once before burning it so the villagers can never return.   They have destroyed food supplies and other means of survival.   The Sudan government and military have obstructed food, water, medicine and other humanitarian aid from reaching the populations in need.   This has led to further deaths and suffering of the people, as well as forcing these people to flee to other countries.   The heavy rain season and monsoons could possibly wipe out aid and supplies coming into Sudan.   Many diseases like cholera are also threatening the people forced to live in cramped and crowded camps.   The Khartoum government has also failed to aid in this and stop it and the violence that is occurring.

Little has been done to curb this crisis, but efforts are being made to help stop it.   The UN Security Council has passed a resolution that includes sending a commission into Darfur to determine if the campaign by Arab militias has reached the level of genocide.   The United States has pledged 299 million dollars in humanitarian aid and 11.8 million dollars to the African Union.   The African Union is trying to restore security so that those starving and homeless affected in Darfur can avail themselves of humanitarian assistance.   They are doing this by supplying food, clean water, and shelter to the refugees forced out of their villages that have been burnt to the ground.   The African Union (AU) is also deploying a Monitor and Protection Force to police the cease-fire agreement signed in April of 2004, which has yet to be effective.   They have tried to conjure peace talks for this war-ravaged land that has already claimed 2 million lives, but have yet to come to a peace agreement.   The relief effort will be difficult to achieve because it will be hampered by inadequate capacity by thousands of people cramped together in the camps, poor security, and heavy rains, but these efforts are still being made.   Aid in Darfur is little and the international community thinks more needs to be done to end this humanitarian catastrophe in Sudan.

Links:

www.cnnnews.com

http:// www.lexis-nexis.com

www.nytimes.com

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