In the closing days of last year, the president sent a message to Sudan's commander in chief, Gen. Omar Hassan al-Bashir, that if he did not accept the U.N. plan to end the genocide in Darfur by Jan. 1, there would be consequences. And the president's special envoy to Sudan, Andrew Natsios, said that if al-Bashir continued to stonewall, the Bush administration would implement its "Plan B." However, because "Plan B" is classified, we don't know the details.
The U.N. Security Council's Resolution 1706 called for a United Nations force of 20,000 to supplement the African Union's brave but thoroughly inadequate force of 7,000 in Darfur. By Jan. 1, Gen. al-Bashir had not accepted the U.N. plan or Bush's ultimatum.
On Jan. 7, the Sunday Telegraph in London wrote that the Sudan government's "bombers and helicopter gunships are reported to have attacked villages in open defiance of U.N. efforts." The next day, the African Union denounced additional air strikes on civilian locations. And on Jan. 9, the Associated Press reported:
"The U.N., the AU and international aid groups say Khartoum (Sudan's government) is massively arming the Janjaweed (Gen. al-Bashir's killers and rapists) and the paramilitary has recently carried out several deadly raids against civilians with the regular army's support."
By now, the leader of every nation in the world knows of the massive crimes committed by the Janjaweed in Darfur, and now also in neighboring Chad. Before he left Sudan recently, Jan Egeland — the U.N. coordinator for humanitarian affairs — said that in a Darfur village, Serba, (National Public Radio, Dec. 1):
"I saw a mother who sat with her child at a hospital. There was a bullet wound through the child's neck. An armed Janjaweed militiaman said, 'I will shoot your child unless you give me money.' They had no money, so he shot the child. This, you know, is heartbreaking."
Not heartbreaking enough for the world to stop this continuing genocide. However, there briefly appeared to be some hope when Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico, and a presidential aspirant, said with fanfare, that he had persuaded Gen. al-Bashir and the rebels to agree to a 60-day cease-fire. But a crucial rebel group (Justice and Equality Movement), denied three days later they had agreed to a cease-fire (AP, Jan. 12).
In real, brutal life, Catholic Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako, the archbishop of Khartoum, said in his Christmas message: "Without concern, news of massacres, rapes and other crimes against innocent, poor and weak civilians continues."
But the International Criminal Court claims it is concerned. Chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told the annual meeting in The Hague of the court's members that he has "sufficient evidence to identify the perpetrators of some of the worst atrocities in Darfur" who have committed crimes against humanity (Washington Post, Nov. 25).
Who will bring these perpetrators to trial without the permission of Gen. al-Bashir, who repeatedly, even after Jan. 1, forbids any U.N. troops in Darfur. (And the United Nations says it must have his permission.) The ruthless general must surely be on the International Criminal Court's list of perpetrators of these crimes by his troops and his Janjaweed militia. This mass murderer certainly will not turn himself and the other suspects over to the court. And the U.N. Security Council will not send in troops with arrest warrants.
So, who will enforce the U.N. plan to save the black Muslim survivors of Khartoum's National Islamic Front government? George W. Bush, the world leader who has most forcefully condemned, and named, this genocide, is otherwise engaged in Iraq. But why couldn't England, Germany, Italy, France and other nations start by setting up a no-fly zone to prevent Khartoum's planes from bombing villages to facilitate the Janjaweed's murders?
And then, if Gen. al-Bashir continues to insist, as always, on "conditions" of acceptance of parts of the U.N. plan (conditions that will ensure its uselessness), why couldn't this no-fly coalition go into Sudan, bearing the currently slow-moving International Court's arrest warrants? That would end the genocide. But I am terribly afraid that for this to happen, there would have to be mass rallies of outraged citizens in these countries to demand their leaders prove, right now, that they can do more than once again say, "Never again!" Do you see any signs of such outrages?
Fatima Haroun, a Darfurian survivor, now living in the United States, recently told a "Save Darfur Coalition" demonstration (Sudan Tribune, Dec. 29) that where she came from, "Women and children as young as 8, 9, 13, are bring targeted on a daily basis, in multiple assaults, multiple injuries. It's too much. Enough is enough, and I will say stop it now!"
But who's listening?
Nat Hentoff is a nationally renowned authority on the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights and author of many books, including "The War on the Bill of Rights and the Gathering Resistance" (Seven Stories Press, 2003).
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