February 7th, 2011 by Daniel Sullivan
Reuters Photo: Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and General Salva Kiir (L), first vice-president of Sudan and governor of Southern Sudan, is seen at the presidential palace in Khartoum in this video frame grab taken February 7, 2011.
Today’s announcement by the South Sudan Referendum Commission confirming that 98.83 percent of southerners voted for independence, is an historical accomplishment. It marks the official end of the referendum process and the informal beginning of the post-referendum period. Acceptance of the results by Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir adds further confidence that southern independence will be realized.
February 4th, 2011 by Joshua Kennedy
Update II: If you wern’t able to join us on the 27th you can now download a recording of the call and see what you missed:
Update: The conference call has ended. We will post a recording of the call as soon as it is available. Thanks!
At noon tomorrow today Save Darfur Coalition/Genocide Intervention Network, Human Rights Watch and the Enough Project will host a joint conference call on Sudan. The call will be focused on the recent southern Sudanese referendum and feature Enough’s Laura Heaton, Save Darfur’s Daniel Sullivan and Human Rights Watch’s Jehanne Henry.
During this call we’re going to review the referendum process, take a look back at how the referendum appeared to those working in Juba and look forward to the post-referendum issues facing Sudan. We’ll also be answering your questions about the referendum and what needs to take place to create a peaceful and prosperous Sudan.
Thanks to all of your efforts, the southern Sudanese referendum was a success. Join us by phone tomorrow, January 27, 2011 at noon eastern time to learn more about where Sudan may be headed next.
Conference Call Information
: January 27, 2011Time
: 12:00 Noon Eastern TimeDial-in#
: 1-866-673-8277Conference ID #
If you would like to submit a question for the panel please email firstname.lastname@example.org
and we’ll try to make sure we get it answered.
February 4th, 2011 by Allen Combs
Activist Susan Morgan recently wrote an op-ed for the Huffington Post about the violence in Darfur and the Obama Administration’s response:
For those of us who follow events in Sudan, where the South recently voted to secede from the North and the ongoing genocide in Darfur continues into its eighth year under the watch of the international community, the stream of news reports on Thursday, January 27 was particularly noteworthy for its extreme contrasts.
In the afternoon, Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough answered a question about Darfur in a roundtable discussion on foreign policy issues which was streamed live via The White House website. As President Obama’s White House point person on Sudan, McDonough’s strong words regarding the United States’ continuing focus on the genocide in Darfur struck all the right notes. McDonough stressed that in his recent meeting with Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ali Karti, 25% of the time was spent discussing North/South issues while 75% was spent on Darfur. McDonough said, “We’re not pulling any punches” in ongoing diplomatic efforts and described Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, as “outraged” over the lack of sufficient access for peacekeepers in Darfur. Most importantly, he made it clear that the U.S. will “hold Khartoum and Juba responsible for their international obligations.”
February 2nd, 2011 by Ruth Messinger
Omar al-Bashir at the 12th A.U. Summit
The referendum on independence for Southern Sudan has come off with minimal violence, and it seems that Sudan’s president Omar Hassan Al-Bashir will accept the inevitable outcome: Southern secession. The Obama administration is rightfully pleased with how the referendum has been carried out, but this is not the time to let up. A peaceful resolution to the North-South conflict may be possible, but there are many issues that are not yet resolved, and the situation in Darfur remains unstable and threatening to those living there in camps for displaced persons. We must urge the White House to stay engaged.
Some in the West, such as The Guardian’s Simon Tisdall
, have proclaimed that “Sudan’s rehabilitation has begun.” Tisdall seems so sanguine, in fact, that he even implies that “setting the much misunderstood Darfur situation to one side,” Bashir is not really the bad actor that “rightwing American” activists portray him to be.
With all due respect to Tisdall, I ask: What?
Is there anything to be misunderstood about the organized slaughter in Darfur of as many as 450,000 men, women and children, the rape of tens of thousands of women and girls, the displacement of millions and the undermining of humanitarian groups trying to get them food, water and medicine? And how should we interpret the intense and sporadic outbreaks of new violence in that area in the last several weeks?
Is genocide something we can paper over as Tisdall suggests?
, President Obama
, Ruth Messinger
, Simon Tisdall
Posted in Activism
, Human Rights
, Humanitarian Aid
, IDP Camps
, Obama Administration
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February 2nd, 2011 by Sam Bell
A destroyed village in Darfur on December 24, 2010 / Photo: AAAS
On December 24th my colleague Martha blogged about a UNAMID report of mass displacements in Darfur:
It is now believed that there are over 18,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in and around the Khor Abeche area, including 5,000 and 3,000 reportedly displaced in Negaha and Shaeria respectively.
Today, the very reputable American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has released satellite images
of Negaha on December 24th. This is not a reused shot from 2003, 2004 or 2005. This is less than two months ago. Their conclusion:
The Negeha analysis conducted by AAAS involved a review of satellite imagery from December 2005, January 2010, and December 2010. The analysis revealed charred earth and hollowed structures affecting 554 structures in total, largely corroborating reports of an attack on the area in December 2010.
Less than a month later the White House video team was in Darfur with General Gration. The narrator references “fighting” but doesn’t tell the viewer of the tens of thousands who had been displaced just in the weeks before. See for yourself:
After the huge efforts to help secure a peaceful, credible and on-time referendum for southern Sudan, it appears the Obama Administration is looking for quick fixes for Darfur. But quick fixes sweep the fundamental problems under the rug. Quick fixes will only lead to more scenes like the ones you are seeing now.
Stayed tuned for more information and opportunities to take action to help bring peace to Darfur and all Sudan.
January 28th, 2011 by Shannon Orcutt
On Wednesday, 200 Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) soldiers surrounded a UNAMID team site and a makeshift internally displaced persons (IDP) camp at Shangil Tobaya, South Darfur. The SAF commander claimed to be carrying out their duties to return the civilians back to their original camps and villages. The civilians had fled to this UNAMID site and several others to seek protection from recent attacks that displaced over 40,000 Darfuri civilians in December as a result of the government’s aerial bombardments of villages as well as clashes between the SAF and rebel groups.
UNAMID rapid assessment mission in Shangil Tobaya, after recent clashes in December Picture: UNAMID - Olivier Chassot
According to UNAMID, the SAF commander then threatened to burn down the camp and mission’s team site if the peacekeepers. Fortunately, UNAMID stood its ground and the government troops withdrew. While UNAMID has not shown consistent effectiveness in carrying out its Chapter VII mandate through the use of necessary force to protect civilians, peacekeepers at this team site put themselves at extreme risk to protect Darfuri civilians.
The return of IDP’s, which the SAF attempted to carry out on Wednesday, is a major piece of the Government of Sudan’s strategy for Darfur
. The government claims that there are only pockets of insecurity in Sudan and that IDP’s should begin to return home. However, the situation in Darfur is far from stable and is not conducive for the return of displaced civilians. Beyond security, many of villages have been destroyed and IDP property may be occupied by Arab settlers. There are two likely motives behind the Khartoum’s push for the returns of IDPs: the government views many of these IDP camps as a source of rebel support and activity; also, if the IDP’s were to be resettled they would lose their claim to their original homelands. Currently over 2.7 million civilians, 1/3rd
of the population in Darfur, live in IDP camps and over 300,000 were displaced this year alone.
January 28th, 2011 by Sally Smith
At the risk of patting the movement on the back, Sudan activists have had a pretty good month.*
A hard-fought, year-long campaign for a free, fair and credible referendum for South Sudan culminated in an overwhelmingly peaceful vote for independence, in part due to high-level, deep engagement by the Obama administration, something activists had been focused on throughout the year.
Of course, as responsible advocates, we have to wonder: did our advocacy really make the difference? This week, we may have gotten our answer.
Tuesday night, activists were able to get a question answered in a White House panel following the State of the Union address. CNN.com reports
When asked if the United States would remain engaged in Sudan following the recent referendum on secession in Southern Sudan, Rhodes called the question a good one for the forum of young people.
He noted that the issue “simply would not have the attention it has” without pressure from young people, nongovernmental organizations, religious groups and others.
“We see it as a kind of bottom-up activism that can help advance a more responsible US foreign policy of the United States” while also helping the people of Sudan, Rhodes said.
If that tip-of-the-hat wasn’t enough, Thursday’s live webcast interview with Denis McDonough included a question on Darfur
from Foreign Policy Magazine’s Josh Rogin. Of course, Rogin had some help with the question: it was submitted through Facebook by Sudan super activist and head of Stop Genocide Now, Gabriel Stauring, who recently returned from a trip to Darfur refugee camps in Chad.
January 27th, 2011 by Ben Drexler
By MICHAEL ABRAMOWITZ & MARK HANIS
Today marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. The United Nations designated this date International Holocaust Remembrance Day to honor the memory of those killed during the Holocaust and to rededicate ourselves to doing all we can to prevent such horrible crimes from happening again.
Given the bloody history of the past five decades — in Cambodia, Rwanda, the Balkans, Darfur and other places — a healthy degree of skepticism is warranted about politicians’ commitment to the lofty goal of “never again.” However, we believe that progress is discernible. Efforts by the United Nations and among member states to make genocide prevention a priority, coupled with a new focus by government officials and civil society on keeping political crises from metastasizing into massive violence against civilians, offer hope that a world without genocide is attainable.
Nearly 17 years ago, the United Nations looked the other way as genocide unfolded in Rwanda. So it was more than a little noteworthy last week when two senior U.N. officials, charged with monitoring for the threat of such grave crimes, bluntly warned about “the possibility of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and ethnic cleansing” in the Ivory Coast.
The Security Council has reinforced the U.N. peacekeeping force in the country, and numerous governments in Africa and elsewhere are pressing Laurent Gbagbo to step down after the internationally recognized victory of opposition leader Alassane Ouattara in November’s election.
In Sudan, a referendum likely to result in partition of the country later this year proceeded relatively peacefully, following an intense diplomatic push by the United States and other countries. Only six months ago, there were serious questions about whether the referendum would occur on time, and many feared a return to the sweeping violence, even genocide, that has plagued Africa’s largest country since its independence in 1956.
Severe dangers remain in both the Ivory Coast and Sudan — particularly in the long-troubled Darfur region, where violence has surged in recent months. However, there is reason to hope that governments around the world are finally getting the message that investing to prevent mass atrocities is not only sound humanitarian policy but also far more cost effective — avoiding huge costs of handling refugees, reconstruction and other requirements that inevitably follow genocide. Genocidal states also are invariably failed states, which incubate terrorism, pandemic diseases and other scourges.
Just last year, the United Nations reaffirmed its commitment to a “Responsibility to Protect,” making clear that its members are willing to step in to protect civilians from genocide, ethnic cleansing and other atrocities when countries are unwilling or unable to do so. New U.N. offices on RtoP and Genocide Prevention are working to shine a light on situations where these crimes are occurring or likely to occur.
The Obama administration has appointed, for the first time, a White House director of war crimes and atrocities at the National Security Council and established an interagency prevention committee to address potential threats of genocide and mass atrocities.
Congress also has taken some tentative steps toward endorsing genocide prevention as a matter of policy. On the last day of its recent session, the Senate passed a resolution that recognizes the U.S. national interest in “helping to prevent and mitigate acts of genocide and other mass atrocities against civilians and supporting and encouraging efforts to develop a whole government approach to prevent and mitigate such acts.”
As important as these steps taken by Washington is the continued growth of a vibrant and vocal constituency of citizens and nongovernmental organizations committed to the abolition of genocide and other mass atrocities. Governments everywhere are on notice that they risk public opprobrium and embarrassment if they fail to respond effectively to the kind of killing that took place in Rwanda or Darfur.
Despite these gains, considerable work remains. Much of this agenda was laid out in the December 2008 report by the Genocide Prevention Task Force, co-chaired by Madeleine Albright and William Cohen. The report recommends an array of measures aimed at strengthening government capacity to prevent mass atrocities.
Some of the recommendations have been adopted, but many have not — including a strong presidential statement of policy on preventing genocide, the creation of an international atrocities prevention network and greater funding for crisis prevention in countries at risk.
This must be accompanied by continued efforts to build a permanent anti-genocide constituency around the world that will hold all governments accountable for turning “never again” into a reality. This task requires organization and massive public education about the moral, financial and national security costs of genocide.
Achieving this goal would be a worthy accomplishment to celebrate on another International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Michael Abramowitz is director of the Committee on Conscience, the genocide prevention initiative of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Mark Hanis is co-founder and president of the newly merged Genocide Intervention Network / Save Darfur Coalition.
January 27th, 2011 by Allen Combs
As part of the White House’s post-SOTU outreach President Obama and several top administration officials are taking questions from the public this week. The President is going to personally sit down for an interview on YouTube at 2:30pm EST today.
Darfur activist AJ Fay
submitted an excellent video question for the President and 1,372 people gave it a thumbs-up. That made it one of the top foreign policy questions and one of the most popular video questions overall.
Take a look at AJ’s question:
This demonstrates the strength of our movement and should remind policymakers that there is a constituency of activist committed to seeing an end to the violence in Darfur.
You can learn more about AJ and the Idaho Darfur Coalition by visiting their website
and don’t forget to check out YouTube
at 2:30pm EST to see if the President takes our question.
January 26th, 2011 by Mark Lotwis
We have a chance to put Darfur on the agenda.
President Obama has announced that he will take questions from America in a live interview tomorrow on YouTube.
This is an opportunity we can’t pass up. Let’s put the President on the record about the situation in Darfur.
Last night, the President spoke passionately about many of the world’s toughest challenges – including making sure the recent referendum in South Sudan occurred on time and was peaceful. Unfortunately, he didn’t talk about how he will help bring peace to Darfur.
Activist AJ Fay of the Idaho Darfur Coalition has already submitted an excellent question to YouTube that you can vote for:
The Darfur crisis is getting worse. How will you make sure humanitarian workers and UN peacekeepers have full access to civilians in Darfur – and how will you provide leadership to reach a comprehensive peace agreement for Darfur?
Now we need to ensure his question is selected for President Obama.
Voting is easy and only takes a minute.
To vote, just follow these 4 easy steps:
- Go to http://www.youtube.com/worldview
- Sign into YouTube or create an account (this only takes a minute so please hang in through this step!)
- Enter “The Darfur crisis” into the search bar on the right hand side of the page and click the search button
- You should see AJ’s video question in the center area – just click the thumbs-up button
Once you’ve voted the thumbs-up icon will turn green and your vote has been recorded. That’s all it takes.
Once you’ve voted for AJ’s question, you can help spread the word by sharing this opportunity using Facebook, Twitter
or an email
. We need to get as many votes as we can, so please share this with your friends and family.
Help us to make sure the President tells the nation what he plans to do to bring peace to Darfur by going to www.YouTube.com/worldview
Thanks for your support and don’t forget to tune in tomorrow at 2:30pm Eastern time to see if the President takes our question.