Darfuri Women’s Long Wait for Justice

South Darfuri women

Women in South Darfur

If you are anything like me, you first viewed the term “rape as a war weapon” with a bit of bewilderment.  A number of documentaries, books and articles would speak of ending this inhuman practice but not go so far as to really define it.  After all, I thought, if you asked a woman who had been both a victim of rape and a victim of  “rape as a war weapon” wouldn’t she probably say that she couldn’t tell the difference?  Rape is rape.  Shouldn’t we be aiming to end the commonality of sexual assaults in Darfur (and other African regions) in general and not waste time separating them into categories?  But the intended effect of rape as an instrument of war, or more accurately, an instrument of genocide, involves generational devastation to entire populations.  A 2004 study by Tara Gingerich, JD, MA and Jennifer Leaning, MD, SMH, finds the method aims to:

  1. Create a sense of fear in the civilian population in order to restrict freedom of movement and economic activity.
  2. Instill flight to facilitate the capture of land and the killing of male civilians.
  3. Demoralize the population and force exit from the land.
  4. Tear apart the community and pollute blood lines.

Despite many similar studies from both NGOs and government agencies attempting to form accurate statistics on the number of women raped in Darfur, there appears to be, almost literally, countless numbers.  It has been overwhelmingly expressed that:

We have no clear idea about the number of women and girls who have been raped in Darfur, in part because of the extraordinary reticence-for cultural and religious reasons-on the part of the women assaulted. (src)    Read more of this post

What does lasting peace require?

“There are now almost daily reports of aerial military assaults by Khartoum (which alone among the combatants in Darfur has air assets) on civilian targets, especially in the Jebel Marra region. Every such flight is a violation of Resolution 1591, and yet the Security Council does nothing ….

China must not be allowed to manhandle evidence and intimidate the Security Council and its representatives on Darfur. The Council should vote immediately to publish the findings of its own Panel of Experts on Darfur, and if China vetoes the move, then it is the obligation of other members of the Council to make the document public—and much more importantly, to act forcefully. “

– Eric Reeves, Arming Khartoum: China’s complicity in the Darfur genocide (link)

Hi everyone,

Finding Peace: When security comes at too high a price (Saturday, Oct 30 2010)

Finding Peace: When security comes at too high a price (Saturday, Oct 30 2010)

We are huge fans of Eric Reeves.  He and many others have been staunch advocates for the Sudanese who’ve suffered terribly for many years now.  Time and time again there have been numerous prescriptions for Sudan.  Omar Bashir needs to be held accountable.  China needs to stop supporting the genocidal government of Sudan.  The United States must do more to aid those who suffer. We know what needs to happen to get to peace.  Yet, rarely do we hear how to go about doing this.  The path seems cloudy and riddled with doubt and skepticism.  Pure intellectual prescriptions are not enough.  At the heart of every successful human endeavor lies a relationship that is based on mutual respect and trust.  Do we have that at the international level?  Does China really trust the United States?  Have our actions and behavior allowed for such trust to develop?

It’s times like these we need to grieve.  Grieving brings us back into the reality of this moment.  The challenges we face are immense, yet our leaders seem extremely ill equipped to deal with them.  We rarely address the root causes of problems.  It’s been 7+ years since the Bashir government launched their genocidal campaign against the people of Darfur.  Yes, they signed a peace deal with the South in 2005.  For a while there was less violence and chaos.  But did this sow the seeds for lasting peace?  Has the Bashir government genuinely changed their ways?  Will they allow the Southern Sudanese to secede?  Is the south capable of standing on its own?

To better answer these questions, we are in the midst of planning a discussion with our Sudanese friends from San Diego.  We’ll be holding it at St. Mark Presbyterian in Newport Beach on Saturday, Nov 13th.  Save the date!  More details coming shortly.

One of our goals in Living Ubuntu has been to explore and address the root causes of conflict and war engulfing our world today.  We need to start by acknowledging that there are significant wounds on both sides of any issue.  Superficial remedies, prescriptions, peace deals on paper do nothing to address these deeply buried wounds and will not help bring about lasting peace and reconciliation.  We hope you will join us next Saturday, October 30th in San Diego for — Finding Peace: When security comes at too high a price. Early discounted registration ($40) for this workshop ends this Saturday. Please make our lives easier and register online.  All details are on the website.


Barbara & Anshul
Living Ubuntu
livingubuntu.org | blog

“The willingness to stop and be present leads to seeing and relating to circumstances and events with more clarity and directness.  Out of this directness seems to emerge deeper understanding or insight into the life unfolding within and before us.  Such insight allows us the possibility of choosing responses most called for by the situation rather than those reactively driven by fear, habit, or long-standing training.”

– Saki Santorelli

Is Khartoum’s “New Strategy” the “final solution” for the Darfur problem?

Hi everyone,

Yesterday I had mixed feelings after seeing the following Facebook post from Ambassador Susan Rice. “Back from #Sudan. Situation very worrying. Parties have lots of work ahead. US will continue to do all we can to support peace and justice.”

I think many of us have known, and for quite a long time now, that the situation in Sudan is “very worrying”.  If ever there was a time to stay engaged, following the many ever-changing developments, the time is now.

If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure to check out the recent piece by Eric Reeves:  Accommodating Genocide: The International Response to Khartoum’s “New Strategy for Darfur”.  With so much uncertainty surrounding the upcoming referendum in Sudan, we have decided to hold an event in November that will allow us to hear directly from members of the local Sudanese community.  For now, please save the evening of Saturday, November 13th on your calendars and we will send full details soon.

Lastly, please note the International Criminal Court Alliance Annual Meeting from 4-7p this coming Thursday, October 14th .  The program entitled, “Will the New Changes to the ICC Treaty Make it Easier for the U.S. to Join?” (see details below) will include Gillian Sorensen, formerly United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for External Relations, now Senior Advisor/National Advocate at the United Nations Foundation as keynote speaker.   A panel discussion with Cesare P.R. Romano (Professor of Law and W. Joseph Ford Fellow at Loyola Law School), David Kaye (the Executive Director of the International Human Rights Program at UCLA Law School and Director of its International Justice Clinic), and Gillian Sorensen, will be moderated by Edwin “Rip” Smith (Professor of Law at USC Law Center), and much more.

Thank you.

Barbara English
Orange County for Darfur, a project of Living Ubuntu
ocfordarfur.org | blog | facebook

PS: Our next OCFD meeting is tomorrow, Tuesday October 12th at 6:30p. Hope you can join us!

oct 2010 flyer

Genocide in Darfur Over?

A Sudanese woman riding past an African Union peacekeeping patrol in Sudan's Darfur region, where violence has abated

A Sudanese woman riding past an African Union peacekeeping patrol in Sudan's Darfur region, where violence has abated (nytimes.com)

The front page of the New York Times today declared, “After Years of Mass Killings, Fragile Calm Holds in Darfur”.

“There is no doubt that violence has diminished significantly in the past two or three years — and many, including myself, have been slow to recognize how significant this reduction has been,” said Eric Reeves, a professor at Smith College and one of the leading academic voices on Darfur.

How did we get here?

I think the efforts of groups like ours, Save Darfur, Enough, GI-Net (and many others) all combined to make this issue more prominent with our leaders.  The horrifying violence in the Congo, Uganda, North Korea, Burma was certainly no less, yet Darfur got relatively more coverage in the media.  Our presence certainly added additional pressure and changed the dynamic of the situation.

Did all our efforts pay off?  Have we gotten all that we wanted?  Certainly not.  The innocent victims of this genocide still continue to suffer, “the anger, frustration and despair simply cannot be overstated.”  All of us need to keep up the vigilance and hold our leaders accountable.  Sudan will be holding elections later this year.  The international community, all of us need to make sure that they are fair.  The situation is far from resolved, the suffering still continues…

For now, I am simply grateful for this piece of ‘good’ news.

Read the complete article at NyTimes.

What’s a “Geoblog”?

imagesA partnership between Google Earth and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Genocide Prevention Mapping Initiatives has led to a new “geoblog” entitled World is Witness.

The “geoblog” chronicles genocide and crimes against humanity across the globe – from Rwanda to Darfur to the Congo. Visitors can find compelling articles, maps of crisis-laden areas, informative videos, podcasts, external links to related websites, and much more.

Opinions expressed on this “geoblog” come from several renowned supporters of peace in Darfur and human rights defenders including Adam Sterling, John Prendergast, Eric Reeves, Brian Steidle, and Alex de Waal.

So much useful info is at your fingertips thanks to World is Witness. Take advantage of it.

Darfur withers as Sudan sells food

A camp for displaced people on the outskirts of Khartoum. Similar camps have been set up in the Darfur region, where United Nations and Western aid feeds more than three million people (nytimes.com)

Even as it receives a billion pounds of free food from international donors, Sudan is growing and selling vast quantities of its own crops to other countries, capitalizing on high global food prices at a time when millions of people in its war-riddled region of Darfur barely have enough to eat.

African countries that rely on donated food usually cannot produce enough on their own. Somalia, Ethiopia, Niger and Zimbabwe are all recent examples of how war, natural disasters or gross mismanagement can cut deep into food production, pushing millions of people to the brink of starvation.

Eric Reeves, a professor at Smith College and an outspoken activist who has written frequently on the Darfur crisis, called this anomaly “one of the least reported and most scandalous features of the Khartoum regime’s domestic policies.” It was emblematic, he said, of the Sudanese government’s strategy to manipulate “national wealth and power to further enrich itself and its cronies, while the marginalized regions of the country suffer from terrible poverty.

Read the complete article here.