STOPPING GENOCIDE IN THE SUDAN

by Jared Feldman

 

As Jews, living in the shadow of the near annihilation of our people, we know too well the peril and the horror of global indifference, when people turn their backs on those in danger or in need.  Today, this is the case in the Darfur region of Sudan, where genocide is taking place.  Mindful of the clarion call of our prophets to demand social justice and actively oppose injustice and cruelty and with the memories of the Holocaust in our hearts and minds, we look in horror upon the persecution of any group based on race, religion, or ethnicity, or other distinctions that are used to degrade the value of any human life. We should not permit “never again” to be a mere slogan.  Rather it must represent a firm, moral commitment on our part not to stand idly by in the face of unspeakable terror and violence.

 

In Darfur, government-supported Arab militias (called Janjaweed) are deliberately killing, raping and terrorizing civilians on a horrifically widespread scale.  As of February 2005, as many as 100,000 civilians have been killed and nearly two million people have been driven from their homes.  Many of these refugees, now in camps in Chad and Sudan, report the raping of women and girls, the torching of villages, the destruction of food supplies and the deliberate poisoning of water sources by Janjaweed.


In addition to the constant danger of attack from Janjaweed, the refugees and those who remain in their villages in Darfur must deal with rampant hunger and disease, the lack of water, and the absence of sanitation facilities.  Assistance has been reduced drastically by limitations imposed by the Sudanese government and by attacks on aid workers. Economic and humanitarian aid is desperately needed.


The U.S. Administration and Congress have termed the crisis in Sudan “genocide.”[1] President Bush demanded that the Sudanese government stop the genocide in the Darfur region and the U.S. House and Senate voted unanimously to condemn the genocide in Darfur.  For the first time in its history, the Committee on Conscience of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has declared a “genocide emergency” in the Sudan.


In light of the above, the JCPA and its member agencies should:

  • Call upon all world leaders and the United Nations to condemn the Sudanese government’s acts of violence and genocide against innocent civilians;
  • Press the international community to demand that the Sudanese Government and rebel forces honor their existing agreements, particularly provisions to
  1. immediately cease all violence and attacks;
  2. refrain from forcible relocation of civilians;
  3. ensure that humanitarian relief reaches all those in need; and
  4. cooperate with human rights monitoring efforts;
  • Press the international community to
  1. advocate for increased capacity of the African Union in Darfur and giving them a clear mandate under Chapter VII of the UN Charter to protect civilians and enforce the ceasefire; encourage countries to provide the Union with the required equipment, logistical, financial, material and other necessary resources;
  2. assume its responsibility to protect innocent civilians through the UN or other multi-national forces by any means including military intervention if necessary;
  3. impose an arms embargo with a mechanism for monitoring and enforcement on the Government of Sudan and rebel forces if they do not cease all violence;
  4. impose targeted sanctions on the Sudanese government and its business interests as a means of pressuring the government to end the genocide;
  5. support NATO enforcement of a no-fly zone over the Darfur region;
  6. pressure the Sudanese government to establish the conditions necessary to permit the voluntary, safe and dignified return of those displaced by the conflict;
  7. expand the mandate of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to coordinate services for internally displaced people in Darfur;
  8. hold accountable those responsible for these atrocities.
  • Encourage worldwide governmental and non-governmental humanitarian assistance to meet the humanitarian need in that region;
  • Help in relief efforts by supporting organizations giving aid, particularly noting the work of the Jewish community in such efforts;
  • Call upon the Sudanese government and the international community to reconstruct homes and villages and return the refugees to their land after the region is secure;
  • Demand that U.S. elected officials and decision makers stay vigilant on this issue and take a pro-active role;
  • Educate our constituencies about the crisis in Darfur;
  • Locally and nationally, organize with other faith and communal organizations activities to raise awareness about this crisis.

[1] According to the Genocide Convention of 1948, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

 


About the Author


Jared Feldman