By Eric Reeves
April 13, 2014 - The accelerating avalanche of violence that continues to sweep across Darfur has finally compelled acknowledgement by the international community, which inevitably refers to this as a "recent" development. This is despicably disingenuous. UNAMID, the UN, and all international actors have long had available voluminous evidence of extreme violence in Darfur that goes back years. To be sure, we know from the superb account by Colum Lynch in Foreign Policy (April 7, 2014) that UNAMID and the UN did a great deal by way of obscuring, hiding, or failing to report the evidence of this violence that they had in hand. This is shameful beyond reckoning, and Part One of Lynch’s searing account of UNAMID ("They Just Stood Watching") concludes with a quote that sums up the cynicism of UNAMID, in particular its special representatives for the UN and African Unity—Rodolphe Adada, Ibrahim Gambari, and currently Mohamed Ibn Chambas:
[Former UNAMID spokesperson Aicha] Elbasri says that she raised concerns about UNAMID’s refusal to acknowledge the government role with one of the peacekeepers’ local commanders, Maj. Gen. Wynjones Matthew Kisamba. She still remains shaken by his answer. The UNAMID forces, she recalls Kisamba saying, had to occasionally massage the truth. "You know, sometimes we have to behave like diplomats," he told her. "We can’t say all what we see in Darfur."
As culpable as such an attitude may be, responsibility also lies with news organizations that did not press UN and UNAMID officials nearly hard enough about the realities with which they were being presented. There is no other way to account for the grotesque caption to a photograph in a piece by the New York Times ("A Taste of Hope Sends Refugees Back to Darfur," dateline: Nyuru, West Darfur; March 2, 2012): it reads in part, "peace has settled on the region." The correspondent, according to all my Darfuri sources—some of them from this region of Darfur—was quite simply taken in by Khartoum’s and the UN/AU’s version of a "Potemkin Village" (see my account based on Darfuri sources and reports from Radio Dabanga at http://wp.me/p45rOG-Mb). Notably, this is the last dateline by a major news organization from an area significantly away from the urban areas and displaced persons camps—over two years ago.
There are notable exceptions: see below my discussion of the Reuters dispatch reporting on the massacre of non-Arab/African civilians at Tabarat (North Darfur) in September 2010. But since that time, reports of such honesty and detail have rarely been produced by journalists "covering" Darfur.
As a means of demonstrating just how much evidence has been available, I have organized a "bibliography of violence and indifference" below, in roughly chronological order. Pieces range from formally published articles of 1,000 – 2000 words to lengthy analyses as long as 10,000 words. Detailed and often lengthy sourcing, referencing, and quotation account for the longer word counts. My ambition has been archival in many respects, an obligation that has come to seem increasingly important as the UN and African Union try to sanitize the unspeakably grim history of Darfur, especially since deployment of UNAMID (January 1, 2008). UNAMID refuses, for example, to acknowledge or speak about the total number of Darfuris displaced on its watch: more than 2 million civilians according to UN data from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (see "Taking Human Displacement in Darfur Seriously"—below). Coupled with the Obama administration’s decision to "de-couple Darfur" from the key bilateral issue between Washington and Khartoum, Darfur’s fate appears sealed and the shame that should attend that failure will not be felt adequately unless we have a substantial archive of all that has managed to be reported.
I have frequently assigned responsibility for particular developments in Darfur, including to individuals as well as organizations and governments. I have argued for robust action of a sort that long ago became politically impossible. Indeed, we should note the recent comments by the present head of UNAMID (Mohamed Ibn Chambas) who spoke yet again of a drawdown in UNAMID, even as violence surges and insecurity for civilians and humanitarians increases by the day. The reasoning by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations is evidently that with so many peacekeeping needs worldwide, it would be foolish to commit continuing full support to an enormous—and enormously expensive—peace support operation that is failing. This is a tacit but clear admission of failure, despite various claims by African Union leaders that the AU was up to the task of bringing peace or at least security to Darfur. Chambas is here simply the messenger for the grim calculus of a cynically led UN DPKO.
Many will disagree with my assessments. And there is the inescapable fact that were UNAMID withdrawn entirely, or even substantially, humanitarian organizations would take this as a signal that they should depart as well, leaving millions of people completely vulnerable to violence, hunger, and disease. Having allowed UNAMID to continue so ineffectively, so disingenuously, so fecklessly for so long, the international community now has no good options, even at the moment when there appears to be growing acknowledgement that the Darfur genocide never ended, it simply changed in character. Moreover, the violence we have seen recently involving the Rapid Response Forces (essentially former Janjaweed), working in clear concert with Khartoum’s regular Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), has been likened by many observers to that of the most violent period early in the genocide. Sources include, inter alia, personnel for the remaining humanitarian organizations, who can speak only indirectly, through outside channels, for fear of expulsion by Khartoum. Here we should keep in mind the regime’s recent suspension of the work the International Committee of the Red Cross as part of a crude extortion scheme.
But I wish to emphasize that the question here is not whether one agrees with my conclusions or judgments. The question is rather how—with so much information about widespread, ethnically-targeted human destruction readily available—Western nations, the African Union, the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Conference, and many other international actors of consequence were able to pretend for so long that such information as has guided my analyses did not exist. Such pretense, and the necessary actions it worked to prevent, deserve the profoundest opprobrium.
What cannot be doubted is that the world has either known or deliberately chosen not to know about the brutal human destruction and suffering in Darfur, orchestrated by the National Islamic Front/National Congress party regime in Khartoum; the archival evidence offered here is simply overwhelming.
The failure in Rwanda of twenty years ago continues in slow motion throughout Darfur.
The following bibliography extends back only to August May 2011; though lengthy as it stand, it might easily have been extended much further back in time (see http://sudanreeves.org/archive/). Many entries were first published in Dissent Magazine or in the Sudan Tribune—as well as other Sudanese news websites—though this is not always indicated. The main body of entries are organized in chronological order, although a dozen or so particularly telling pieces, mainly from the past year, are put in primary position as a means of highlighting various moments that are particularly telling of Darfur’s agony. The other materials here have in many cases been distilled into various chapters and annexes of my October 2012 book, Compromising With Evil: An archival history of greater Sudan, 2007 – 2012 (available for downloading at no cost: www.CompromisingWithEvil.org/).
The original texts, with all links and formatting preserved, may be searched for at www.sudanreeves.org.
• "Civilians in Sudan’s Darfur region face wholesale destruction," The Washington Post, July 28, 2013 (Sunday) / http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/civilians-in-sudans-darfur-region-face-wholesale-destruction/2013/07/26/04953b82-ed63-11e2-9008-61e94a7ea20d_story.html
• Darfur: An inside look at massive, deliberate UN misrepresentation of human suffering and destruction, January 24, 2014: A Radio France Internationale interview with former UNAMID spokeswoman Aicha Elbasri at https://soundcloud.com/radiofranceinternationale/whistleblower-says-un-under
• Radio Dabanga: The Voice of Truth Amidst a Sea of UN Mendacity, Sudan Tribune, December 14, 2013 / http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article49178
• What We Learn of UNAMID from the September 2010 Tabarat Massacre, September 18, 2011 / http://sudanreeves.org/2011/09/18/%E2%80%9Cwhat-we-learn-of-unamid-from-the-september-2010-tabarat-massacre%E2%80%9D/
• Massive Air and Ground Attacks Against Civilians in Darfur: New Reports from the Satellite Sentinel Project, March 28, 2014 / http://sudanreeves.org/2014/03/28/4541/
• Events in Darfur Rapidly Spiraling Out of Control as Security Continues to Collapse, Sudan Tribune, August 28, 2013 / http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article47836
• Malnutrition Data for Darfur Still Being Withheld, Sudan Tribune, February 10, 2014 / http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article49907
• Khartoum’s Suspension of Activities by the International Committee of the Red Cross, Sudan Tribune, February 1, 2014 / http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article49817
• Taking Human Displacement in Darfur Seriously, Sudan Tribune, June 3, 2013 / http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article46804
• Humanitarian Conditions in Darfur: The most recent reports reveal a relentless deterioration (Two Parts), May 3, 2013 / http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=3790
• RAPE AS A CONTINUING WEAPON OF WAR IN DARFUR: Reports, bibliography of studies, a compendium of incidents, March 4, 2012 / http://sudanreeves.org/2012/03/04/rape-as-a-continuing-weapon-of-war-in-darfur-reports-bibliography-of-studies-a-compendium-of-incidents
[See also lengthy Appendix at: http://www.sudanreeves.org/2012/03/04/incidents-of-rape-to-be-read-with-rape-as-a-continuing-weapon-of-war-in-darfur/
• Rape as a Weapon of War in Darfur, November 20, 2011: http://sudanreeves.org/2011/11/20/rape-as-a-weapon-of-war-in-darfur/]
• Janjaweed in Darfur Reconstituted as the "Rapid Response Force," Sudan Tribune, February 28, 2014 / http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article50134
• Khartoum’s Assault on Humanitarian Organizations in Darfur Continues, March 19, 2014 / http://sudanreeves.org/2014/03/19/khartoums-assault-on-humanitarian-organizations-in-darfur-continues/
• April 2014: The Twentieth Anniversary of the Rwanda Genocide: What has been learned? April 6, 2014 (Two Parts), Sudan Tribune / http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article50559
("PART TWO: Darfur, the early responses" may be found at: http://wp.me/p45rOG-1bi)
• Darfur: The Genocide the World Got Tired Of, Sudan Tribune, November 24, 2011 / http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article40811
• A Grim 10th Anniversary: "Unnoticed Genocide [in Darfur]," The Washington Post, February 25, 2004
Painfully little of this ten-year-old account needs updating: “Unnoticed Genocide,” The Washington Post (February 25, 2004, http://sudanreeves.org/2004/12/13/unnoticed-genocide-the-washington-post-february-25-2004/ )
BEGINNING MAY 2011:
• "They Bombed Everything that Moved," May 9, 2011
“They Bombed Everything that Moved: Aerial military attacks on civilians and humanitarians in Sudan, 1999 – 2011 (a comprehensive report/database, http://www.sudanbombing.org)
• "How many Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are there in Darfur?" Dissent Magazine, April 28, 2011 / http://www.dissentmagazine.org/blog/how-many-internally-displaced-persons-are-there-in-darfur
The UN has finally acknowledged that figures for displacement promulgated by former UN] humanitarian coordinator Georges Charpentier are untenable, and for a many months has given no figure but simply declared: "IDPs in Darfur – figures are fluctuating and are being reviewed."
What we do know is that UN data make clear that since the official deployment of UNAMID on January 1, 2008, more than 2 million Darfuris have been newly displaced. This excludes the some 330,000 Darfuri refugees who remain displaced in eastern Chad.
See above: "Taking Human Displacement in Darfur Seriously," June 3, 2013: http://sudanreeves.org/2013/06/03/taking-human-displacement-in- darfur-seriously/
• "Darfur and Ban Ki-moon’s Bid for a Second Term," Dissent Magazine, June 10, 2011 / http://sudanreeves.org/2011/06/10/darfur-and-ban-ki-moons-bid-for-a-second-term-from-dissent-magazine-june-10-2011/
• Khartoum is preparing for a new round of humanitarian expulsions in Darfur, June 11, 2011 / http://sudanreeves.org/2011/06/14/khartoum-is-preparing-for-a-new-round-of-humanitarian-expulsions-in-darfur/
• "Darfur: Life in the Darkening Shadows," Dissent Magazine, May 18, 2011 / http://www.dissentmagazine.org/blog/darfur-life-in-the-darkening-shadows
• "Ongoing Aerial Assaults in Sudan Against Civilians and Humanitarians: An Update," June 25, 2011 / http://sudanreeves.org/2011/07/25/ongoing-aerial-assaults-in-sudan-against-civilians-and-humanitarians-an-update-wwwsudanbombingorg/
Original report and data spreadsheet: www.sudanbombing.org
• A compendium of recent reports from Darfur by Radio Dabanga, July 17, 2011 / http://sudanreeves.org/2011/07/17/a-compendium-of-recent-reports-from-darfur-from-radio-dabanga-july-17-2011/
• Darfur Pushed Further Into the Shadows (Two Parts), July 27, 2011 / http://sudanreeves.org/2011/07/27/darfur-pushed-further-into-the-shadows-in-two-parts-part-1-july-27-2011/
[Part 1: Analysis of what has limited our knowledge of Darfur and the continuing human suffering and destruction;
Part 2: A lengthy collection of dispatches from Radio Dabanga (http://www.radiodabanga.org/) giving a true sense of the violence confronting Darfuris, including continual attacks on rural populations as well the millions displaced internally and as refugees in eastern Chad; http://www.sudanreeves.org/Article355.html
• "Reporting Darfur: Radio Dabanga and the ’Black Box’ Genocide," African Arguments, August 18, 2011 / http://sudanreeves.org/2011/08/19/reporting-darfur-radio-dabanga-and-the-black-box-genocide-african-arguments-on-line-august-18-2011/
• Darfur: No Way Forward from a Dangerous and Unsustainable Situation, August 30, 2011 / http://sudanreeves.org/2011/08/30/darfur-no-way-forward-from-a-dangerous-and-unsustainable-situation/
• "Darfur and the Consequences of Impunity for Sudan," Dissent Magazine, September 9, 2011 / http://sudanreeves.org/2011/09/10/darfur-and-the-consequences-of-impunity-for-sudan-dissent-magazine-on-line-september-9-2011/
• The UN’s Man in Darfur: The Expedient Mendacity of UNAMID Chief Ibrahim Gambari, September 19, 2011 / http://sudanreeves.org/2011/09/19/the-uns-man-in-darfur-the-expedient-mendacity-of-ibrahim-gambari/
• "The UN Panel of Experts on Darfur Disappears," Dissent Magazine, September 27, 2011 / http://sudanreeves.org/2011/09/27/the-un-panel-of-experts-on-darfur-disappears-from-dissent-magazine-on-line-september-27-2011/
• "They Bombed Everything that Moved," report and data update as of October 15, 2011 / http://sudanreeves.org/2011/10/16/the-bombed-everything-that-moved-report-and-data-update-as-of-october-15-2011/
Also updated January 12, 2012, SudanTribune: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article41295
• "Evil and Ignorance: The Case of Darfur," Dissent Magazine, January 26, 2012 / http://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/evil-and-ignorance-the-case-of-darfur
• UNAMID Chief for Darfur Attends Celebration Hosted by Top Janjaweed Leader, Sudan Tribune, February 1, 2012 / http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article41486
• The Seen and the Unseen in Darfur: Recent Reporting on violence, insecurity, and resettlement, Sudan Tribune, February 29, 2012 / http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article41772
• "Darfur and the Diplomacy of Abandonment," Dissent Magazine, March 16, 2012 / http://18.104.22.168/atw.php?id=711
• CONCERNING THE UN COMMISSION OF INQUIRY ON DARFUR, April 7, 2012 http://sudanreeves.org/2012/04/07/concerning-the-un-commission-of-inquiry-on-darfur-interview-of-deborah-bodkin-canadian-police-offer-and-member-of-the-coi-november-1-2005/
See also lengthy critique of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Darfur, "Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur: A critical analysis" (Part One of Two), February 2, 2005
• Former Members of the UN Panel of Experts for Darfur Offer a Damning Alternative to the "Official" Report, April 17, 2012 / http://sudanreeves.org/2012/04/17/former-members-of-the-un-panel-of-experts-for-darfur-offer-a-damning-alternative-to-the-official-report/
• Darfur in the Still Deepening Shadow of Lies, Sudan Tribune, May 24, 2012 / http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article42713
See also July 22, 2102 extension of this analysis: http://sudanreeves.org/2012/07/22/darfur-moves-yet-deeper-into-the-shadow-of-lies/
• Darfur: UN Failure and Mendacity Culminate in an Avalanche of Violence, Sudan Tribune, August 12, 2012 / http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article43567
• "Darfur’s invisible violence," ReutersAlert, August 28, 2012 / http://sudanreeves.org/2012/08/29/darfurs-invisible-violence-reutersalert-august-28-2012/
• The UN’s Moral Rehabilitation of the Khartoum Regime, August 31, 2012 / http://sudanreeves.org/2012/08/31/3411/
• The Avalanche of Violence Continues to Accelerate in Darfur, Sudan Tribune, October 12, 2012 / http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article44181
• Violence in Hashaba, North Darfur: A brutal portent, another UN disgrace, Sudan Tribune, October 30, 2012 / http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article44379
• "Darfur: Peacekeeping and Atrocity Crimes Don’t Mix," Enough Project, November 21, 2012 / http://www.enoughproject.org/blogs/darfur-peacekeeping-and-atrocity-crimes-dont-mix
• UNAMID Evacuates Wounded SAF Soldiers in Darfur: Larger Implications, Sudan Tribune, November 18, 2012 / http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article44573
• Growing Violence in Darfur Deserves Honest Reporting, Not More Flatulent UN Nonsense, December 1, 2012 / http://sudanreeves.org/2012/12/01/growing-violence-in-darfur-deserves-honest-reporting-not-more-flatulent-un-nonsense/
• Human Security in Darfur, Year’s End 2012: West Darfur, December, 27, 2012 (Part One of Three) / http://sudanreeves.org/2012/12/27/human-security-in-darfur-years-end-2012-west-darfur/
• Human Security in Darfur, Year’s End 2012: South Darfur (Part Two of Three), Sudan Tribune, January 12, 2013 / http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article45158
• Human Security in Darfur, Year’s End 2012: North Darfur, Sudan Tribune, January 17, 2013 (Part Three of Three) / http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article45218
• Humanitarian Conditions in Darfur: The most recent reports reveal a relentless deterioration, Sudan Tribune, February 10, 2013 / http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article45480
• UN Security Council Ignores Realities of Aerial Attacks on Civilians in Darfur, Sudan Tribune, February 18, 2013 / http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article45575
(Part 2 at http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=3922)
• Human Security in Darfur Enters Free-Fall, Sudan Tribune, March 20, 2013 / http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article45896
• A Key Report on Darfur by UN Panel of Experts Consigned to Oblivion, Sudan Tribune, April 27, 2013 / http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article46376
• THE DARFUR GENOCIDE AT TEN YEARS: A Reckoning, Sudan Tribune, April 19, 2013 / http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article46292
• Some reflections on the invisibility of Darfur, Sudan Tribune, May 11, 2013 / http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article46533
• Displacement, returns, and current trends in Darfur—A compendium of reports, May 10, 2013/ http://sudanreeves.org/2013/05/11/may-2013-displacement-returns-and-current-trends-in-darfur-a-compendium-of-reports/
• Killing UN Peacekeepers: A Ruthless Proclivity of Khartoum’s SAF, Militia Proxies, Sudan Tribune, May 19, 2013 / http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article46513
• An open letter to the Public Editor of the New York Times concerning Darfur, Sudan Tribune, June 11, 2013, from Eric Reeves / http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article46907
• The Killing of Seven UNAMID Peacekeeping Personnel in Darfur: a terrible tragedy, a clear warning, Sudan Tribune, July 15, 2013 / http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article47293
[See update at http://sudanreeves.org/2013/07/18/4128/]
• Humanitarian Conditions in Darfur: Relief Efforts Perilously Close to Collapse (Two Parts), August 15, 2013 / http://sudanreeves.org/2013/08/16/humanitarian-conditions-in-darfur-relief-efforts-perilously-close-to-collapse/
• Humanitarian Conditions in Darfur: A Climate of Violence and Extreme Insecurity, Sudan Tribune, August 4, 2013 / http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article47542
• "They Bombed Everything that Moved: Aerial Military attacks on Civilians and Humanitarians in Sudan, 1999 – 2011" (updated September 2013) / http://sudanreeves.org/2013/09/22/they-bombed-everything-that-moved-aerial-military-attacks-on-civilians-and-humanitarians-in-sudan-1999-2011-updated-september-2013/
• Human Mortality in Darfur: What is Unspoken, and What This Silence Means, Sudan Tribune, September 7, 2013 / http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article47961
See extensive mortality analysis of August 2010, concluding that some 500,000 Darfuris—in Darfur and in eastern Chad—had as of that date died from violence or the consequences of violence: QUANTIFYING GENOCIDE: Darfur Mortality Update, August 6, 2010, http://sudanreeves.org/2010/08/07/quantifying-genocide-darfur-mortality-update-august-6-2010/
• Darfur Destroyed: A week in the life of a dying land, November 27, 2013 / http://sudanreeves.org/2013/11/27/darfur-destroyed-a-week-in-the-life-of-a-dying-land/
• An Open Letter to President Obama on the Bombing of North Sharafa, East Jebel Marra (Darfur), from Eric Reeves, Sudan Tribune, November 30, 2013 / http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article49015
• How is the International Community Complicit in Antonov Attacks on Civilians in Sudan? December 2, 2013 / http://sudanreeves.org/2013/12/02/how-is-the-international-community-complicit-in-antonov-attacks-on-civilians-in-sudan/
• Darfur: Violence and Humanitarian Crisis in South Sudan Further Obscure Relentless Suffering and Destruction, January 12, 2014 / http://sudanreeves.org/2014/01/12/darfur-violence-and-humanitarian-crisis-in-south-sudan-further-obscure-relentless-suffering-and-destruction/
• In the Shadow of South Sudan’s Catastrophe, Khartoum’s Actions Are Escaping Scrutiny, Sudan Tribune, February 23, 2014 / http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article50058
• Khartoum: A criminal regime in its death throes lashes out with more violence, Sudan Tribune, March 14, 2014 / http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article50293
Eric Reeves is Professor of English Language and Literature at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. He has spent the past fourteen years working full-time as a Sudan researcher and analyst, publishing extensively both in the US and internationally.