Category Archives: Genocide

Giving Thanks and Seeking Blessings

This Thanksgiving, let us give thanks for what we have in our lives and seek to bring blessings into the lives of those who lack them.

As I write this article, Sudanese Armed Forces are amid an offensive against the Sudan Revolutionary Front that has largely been a failure. We are thankful that those who defend themselves against genocide have thus far been able to withstand the offensive. For many thousands of innocent civilians, however, there is no way to withstand the indiscriminate bombing of villages. From November 21-25 alone, nearly 25,000 civilians have become displaced from the intentional bombing of civilian targets. More than 460,000 people have been displaced over the course of this year.

The Khartoum Regime continues its regular campaign of displacement and ethnic cleansing and genocide through bombing huts and fields.

A video was released on November 18 of such a bombing along with a plea from Yassir Arman for help. Here is the plea. The video (graphic and difficult to watch) follows:

This video is what happened yesterday, the 17th of November, in Buram, Nuba Mountains. To all those who continue to appease the Khartoum regime and ignore the solid facts on the ground, the Khartoum regime is targeting civilian populations in Sudan, committing war crimes, and killing the very children who need to be vaccinated. And for the families of these children, the air and ground bombardment of Khartoum is a more visible threat than polio. This is a fact that many in Africa and in international community circles are deliberately ignoring because admitting it would require them to provide civilian protection as per international humanitarian law, and for them, it is better to keep a blind eye when the government of Sudan has denied access of humanitarian assistance for civilian populations for two years and is terrorizing and killing the civilian populations at the same time. We hope this video will make them, for once, tell the truth. The silence of some circles in the international community is providing the environment for General Bashir to continue killing and targeting the civilian populations in the rural and urban areas of Sudan without being questioned by anyone, even by some of those who indicted him. Bashir is being given a blank check by some circles within the international community to kill the people of Sudan, but the Sudanese people will continue to resist him and defend their right to peace, democracy, the respect of human rights, and the right for equal citizenship. We call upon all who value human life and human dignity to wage a campaign for unhindered access for humanitarian assistance in the Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile and Darfur as well as a humanitarian cessation of hostilities that addresses the civilian humanitarian needs, as required by humanitarian international law, without conditioning them on a political agenda. Civilian populations should not be punished for political purposes or gain. The right for humanitarian aid and protection is guaranteed by international humanitarian law.
Yasir Arman
Secretary General, SPLM-N
Secretary for External Affairs, SRF
November 18, 2013

Interview with Mukesh Kapila

Mukesh KapilaMy interview with Mukesh Kapila on “Understanding the World” is now both on Youtube and Podcast. Dr. Kapila talked about the situation in Sudan and the history of the genocides perpetrated by the Sudanese government against the people of Sudan over the past decades. Dr. Kapila is a leading authority on genocide and perhaps the leading authority on the Sudanese genocides. He is well worth listening to. Below is the Youtube recording of the program which lasts about an hour. Dr. Kapila is on for about 50 minutes of the show. At the bottom of this posting you will find the audio only podcast link.

The podcast of the interview may be found by clicking on this link.

 

Join us to hear Carl Wilkens

Carl Wilkens will join Rabbi Kaufman and Mark Finkelstein live on Understanding the World tomorrow morning, April 11, 2013. The show airs beginning at 8:30 am Central and runs until 9:30 am. You may listen in live or join in the chat room on the internet at www.12Talk2.com or see the recording on Youtube at www.youtube.com/12talk2net .

Carl Wilkens will be speaking in Des Moines at Temple B’nai Jeshurun on April 20 at 7:30 pm admission is free of charge.

Wilkens Speaking 2_400x400

U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Bridget Conley-Zilkic – Project Director
“The 1994 genocide in Rwanda illustrated the absolute worst in humanity — not only in how it was perpetrated, but also in how the people of Rwanda were abandoned by the world. Against this horrible history, the brave and honorable decision of Carl Wilkens to stay and help stands out as a glimmer of hope for everyone, then and now.” B. Conley-Zilkic

About Carl Wilkens-

As a humanitarian aid worker, Carl Wilkens moved his young family to Rwanda in the spring of 1990. When the genocide was launched in April 1994, Carl refused to leave, even when urged to do so by close friends, his church and the United States government. Thousands of expatriates evacuated and the United Nations pulled out most of its troops. Carl was the only American to remain in the country. Venturing out each day into streets crackling with mortars and gunfire, he worked his way through roadblocks of angry, bloodstained soldiers and civilians armed with machetes and assault rifles in order to bring food, water and medicine to groups of orphans trapped around the city. His actions saved the lives of hundreds.

Carl returned to the United States in 1996. After being featured in the 2004 PBS Frontline documentary, “Ghosts of Rwanda”, about the Rwanda genocide, he began to receive letters, phone calls and offers from teachers around the country to come and share his experiences with students.

In January 2008, with no end in sight to the ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan, Carl decided quit his job and dedicate himself full time to accepting these invitations.  He and his wife Teresa have since formed an educational nonprofit, World Outside My Shoes, to facilitate this important work.

Sudan – The Failing Economy and The Future

Over the past few months, I have written several articles dealing with the state of the Sudanese economy and implications for the ongoing conflicts in which Sudan is involved. I wrote in October about ongoing attempts to bail out the Sudanese government in direct contradiction to the sanctions imposed upon it for its genocidal actions, but I wrote as early as May and  June that the economic situation will eventually have a major impact on Sudan’s ability to maintain its military or to avoid uprisings in the streets. Economically, things have gotten much worse in the months since. Professor Eric Reeves wrote a lengthy description of the economic situation faced by the Sudanese government in which he detailed an array of major problems. I encourage you to read the full article, but wish to highlight here some of what Professor Reeves describes. He notes that:

  1. Sudan is one of the most corrupt countries in the world which makes business investment there very difficult and expensive to conduct as well as causing resentment and distrust.
  2. Sudan is one of the worst performing economies in the world. There is negative economic growth in Sudan. The economy is getting smaller at a rate of -11.2% per year.
  3. Inflation is sky-high. In October the official rate was 45.3%. Meaning that next year, everything will cost nearly one-and-a-half times what it does right now. The inflation rates for food and fuel are much worse than that. As bad as this is, Reeves notes that in September, the official rate was listed at 42% but some suggest that the actual rate was closer to 65%.
  4. The Khartoum Regime has sold off much of its oil assets in order to pay current bills.
  5. Anti-regime protests forced Khartoum to reinstate fuel subsidies that the World Monetary Fund demanded that it end so that Sudan’s currency market could stabilize.
  6. The Sudanese government is now printing money to service its increasing debt resulting in both inflation in prices and devaluing of its currency. One US Dollar now is exchanged for 6.5 Sudanese Pounds in the black market compared with 5 pounds earlier this year.
  7. Sudan has limited foreign currency reserves and thus is facing a situation in which it is forced to use its own devalued currency to purchase needed items in foreign markets including the 400,000 tons of Sugar it imports each year.
  8. Arab governments are reticent to offer financial backing to the regime. Only Qatar (and I would add, probably Iran) has offered aid. Claims to the contrary about large deposits in the Central Bank of Sudan actually diminish the regimes credibility and therefore credit with other nations and exporters.
  9. Future prospects of oil income are far more limited than they once were with most of the oil reserves located in South Sudan. In April, 2012 Sudan was actually listed as a net oil importer by the International Monetary Fund meaning that it uses more oil than it produces.
  10. Agricultural land has been poorly managed or destroyed and Sudan no longer has sufficient native agriculture to meet national food needs.
  11. A huge percentage of Sudan’s gross domestic product GDP is going to pay for military operations. These bills are being paid in Sudanese Pounds which are being devalued. Thus soldiers who are being paid the same wages each month are seeing the value of what they are being paid diminish. With 50% inflation, someone paid $3000 per year is now being paid the equivalent of $2000. That is going to promote resentment and could spell the collapse of the regime’s efforts to defend itself.
  12. Political support is weakening along with increasing resentment among those who work for and support the regime.

Professor Reeves concludes:

Despite the already acute and growing danger of complete economic implosion, the regime persists with immensely expensive and unproductive policies, including war in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile, as well as hostile actions along the North/South border, and the supplying of renegade militia groups inside South Sudan.  For a regime that is ruthlessly survivalist, this makes no rational sense: current economic realities are diminishing the chances that the regime will survive.

The world needs to stand up to the Khartoum Regime and force it to change its ways or leave power, not only for the benefit of the greatly suffering peoples in Darfur, the Nuba Mountains, and Blue Nile, but also for the sake of Sudan itself and its population held hostage by an irrational, destructive, and hate-filled regime.

All Things Being Equal, There Is No Morality

It is becoming more and more the norm that newspapers and editorials present “both sides” of any and every issue. To be considered unbiased, it seems that one must invariably find fault with each side of a dispute and to present both sides as equally responsible for any problems. The logic is that one side cannot be correct or right. They only have one opinion, one view. The other side’s view must be equally valid or they would agree with the first side. This makes no sense. It is an abdication of journalistic ethics to make no effort to determine right or wrong, truth or lies. Yet it is the new standard.

Ask both sides. Print both views.

The latest in this trend of politically correct moral equivalency may be found in a recent New York Times editorial about Sudan and South Sudan. The Times Editorial Board wrote:

South Sudan, along with Sudan, created this crisis, and they have the means to fix it.

The two sides fought a civil war that killed more than two million people before a peace deal in 2005. In the past year, they barely avoided a return to all-out conflict. Violence continues in Darfur and in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, a rebel-held area where the Khartoum government is trying to bomb and starve the people into submission. Thousands have been displaced.

It is difficult to see how South Sudan created the crisis by stopping the flow of oil that was providing an endless supply of money for Sudan to use to buy weaponry from Iran with which it has been using to bomb the border region, including into South Sudanese territory, and to commit genocide first in Darfur and now in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile. Was there no conflict ongoing before South Sudan stopped the flow of oil in January, much less when it went into Heglig in March and April? In fact, I think it safe to say that there were many attacks ongoing by the Sudan Armed Forces in the border region prior to South Sudan’s military response in Heglig.

Here’s an article about the Sudan Airforce bombing Jau in Unity State in South Sudan on February 14.

Here’s one about the bombing of Western Bahr-al-Ghazal state in January.

Then of course there is the bombardment of South Sudan friendly civilians in South Kordofan and Blue Nile which is ongoing, but began long before the flow of oil was shut off from the south or any South Sudanese troops set foot in Heglig. Satellite Sentinel’s report from January of 2012 details similar events for months prior. One could potentially make the argument that defending civilians against genocide is a good reason to conduct military operations, but the international community has made it pretty clear that the people are on their own and that South Sudan cannot offer official help. “Genocide away,” I guess. “Never again” are words for commemorations rather than policies.

But more to the point, how can one forget the bombing of Yida Refugee Camp in Unity State in South Sudan on November 10th, 2011?  The Times must believe that Sudan’s bombing of the refugee camp must have been justified in anticipation by several months of South Sudan’s future military action or else it would be difficult to argue that “South Sudan created this crisis,” even limiting the “crisis” in question to the past year alone. Moral equivalency cannot possibly allow for Sudan to be the obvious aggressor even when its leadership is wanted for genocide by the International Criminal Court!

This all said, while restoring the flow of oil through Sudan will bring money into the South Sudanese economy, it also will provide Sudan with a much needed influx of capital with which to fund its military and police activities, harming the possibility of regime change in Sudan and prolonging the ongoing crisis of oppression caused by the Khartoum Regime for decades now.

The Economic Crisis in Sudan and Revolution

This week, Sudan offered to admit humanitarian aid into South Kordofan and Blue Nile under certain (unacceptable) conditions, including only allowing organizations approved by the regime to distribute the aid. The conditions for the admittance of aid offered by the Sudanese are clearly both a delaying tactic and a barely veiled attempt to weaken the position of the SPLM-North and the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) which have been able not only to hold off the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) but to soundly defeat them on the field of battle.

The Khartoum Regime is facing a slew of crises that are building upon one another.

First, the independence of South Sudan took with it the vast majority of the oil resources.

Second, the battle of Heglig resulted in two major losses for Sudan, even after South Sudan returned control of Heglig to Sudan. The flow of oil out of Heglig from Sudanese sources was greatly reduced due to damage to the installation there and the flow of oil through the pipeline from South Sudan was completely shut off, virtually eliminating the two primary sources of income for Sudan. This has led directly to an even bigger problem.

Third, the resulting economic crisis is forcing changes that do significant damage to the ability of the Khartoum regime to maintain power.

  • It can no longer provide subsidies for gasoline and food that keep the populace happy. It has already eliminated the gasoline subsidy and may be forced to lessen or eliminate food subsidies as well as a result of pressure on the prices due to hyper inflation. It is one thing to offer $2 worth of bread for $1 and something entirely other to offer $10 worth of bread for $1. As the real price increases, the subsidy becomes untenable.
  • It can no longer borrow large sums of money even from China because the fear of hyper inflation is so great that nations are concerned that the loans would not be repaid at all or would be paid back at pennies on the dollar. Without oil flowing through the pipeline, Sudan can’t borrow money.
  • It can no longer support the bureaucracy necessary to maintain a police state. The cost of maintaining a fighting force substantial enough to hold off rebel groups on multiple fronts, maintain a deterring presence on the South Sudanese border in disputed territories, and maintain control in the streets in the center of the country is immense. As the need for police support in the interior of the nation increases, the Khartoum Regime will have no choice but to abandon the periphery or offer significant compromises to the internal opposition groups.

The implications of this choice are profound. The regime has a choice of how to weaken, but not to avoid weakening. It can try to maintain some control by ceding some power to the internal opposition, hoping to quell rioting, or it can risk a complete collapse by defending the periphery while continuing to fight in the center as well. The choice would appear obvious except for one problem.

No matter who will run the country in the near future, there will be overriding economic problems. Let us imagine for a moment that the regime would collapse and the SRF would take over the entire country after a major fight. The nation, emerging from this conflict, would have extremely limited financial resources and millions of people facing food insecurity. The oil industry would take time to build up. The new government would need to devote substantial resources to maintaining security and much of the Arab wealth would flee the country in fear of the new regime. Sudan could become a failed state in rapid fashion with a resulting humanitarian crisis dwarfing the current problems facing the nation.

While there is hope for positive change in Sudan and the revolts occurring right now are a good sign that it might happen. Things could easily take a turn for the worse. This is a regime that has committed genocide already. To imagine that it could not use extreme violence against protesters would be delusional.

The best case scenario at this point would be for the Khartoum regime to willingly go into exile while a regime that includes the SRF, if not one led by the SRF, would work with willing parties in Khartoum to create a peaceful transition of power that allows for immediate and  massive international investment in Sudan and in the border region of South Sudan, enabling the rapid growth of oil related income for the two nations.

Let us hope for a peaceful transition of power that leads to rapid economic growth. Anything else may not be enough for hundreds of thousands of people in Sudan and South Sudan who are already struggling to survive.

Sudan Says that It Accepts Humanitarian Access

Sudan today said that it will accept humanitarian access to South Kordofan and Blue Nile as long as there are observers from the African Union and Arab League to monitor it. The deal requires the immediate cessation of hostilities. Clearly this is the primary aspect of the agreement. The fact is that the regime cannot continue to fight a losing battle against the Sudan Revolutionary Front in South Kordofan while also facing severe economic troubles and protests in the streets.

It may well be necessary for there to be a ceasefire in the south so as to allow humanitarian access to save the tens of thousands of people whose lives are in jeopardy, but it is also clear that Sudan could not in the near term return to full scale combat readiness. The Sudanese government will need to shift finances from military to domestic spending and once that shift takes place, the SAF will be worse off against the SRF than it is today. This is great news if it actually happens, that Sudan lets in humanitarian aid, but even if it does not, the very fact that it is considering doing so is an indication that the resolve and ability of the regime to maintain its previous policies is significantly weakened.