Darfur genocide

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The Darfur genocide refers to the systematic killing of Darfuri men, women, and children which has occurred during the ongoing conflict in Western Sudan. It has become known as the first genocide of the 21st century.[1] The genocide, which is being carried out against the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa tribes has led the International Criminal Court (ICC) to indict several people for crimes against humanity, rape, forced transfer and torture. According to Eric Reeves more than one million children have been "killed, raped, wounded, displaced, traumatized, or endured the loss of parents and families".[2]

Omar al-Bashir, president of Sudan was indicted by the ICC in 2010 for the crime of genocide, it is the first instance of the ICC issuing a warrant for genocide to a sitting head of state.[3]

In 2013 the United Nations (UN) estimated that up to 300,000 people had been killed during the genocide, in response the Sudanese government claimed that the number of deaths was 'grossly inflated'.[4] By 2015 it was estimated that the death toll stood between 100,000 and 400,000.[5]

War crimes

Arab Janjaweed tribes have been a major player in the conflict.

The BBC first reported on the issue of ethnic cleansing in November 2003, and earlier that year, on March 2003 an administrator from the United States Agency for International Development when giving testimony to congress referred to ethnic cleansing and 'population clearance' which was occurring in Darfur.[6] On April 2004, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released Darfur Destroyed: Ethnic Cleansing by Government and Militia Forces in Western Sudan, a 77 page report compiled by HRW following 25 days spent in the region. The executive director of the African branch of HRW, Peter Takirambudde, stated 'There can be no doubt about the Sudanese government’s culpability in crimes against humanity in Darfur'. The HRW report also documents Janjaweed killings of Muslim religious leaders, desecration of the Koran and the destruction of mosques.[7]

The use of rape as a tool of genocide has been noted, this crime has been carried out by Sudanese government forces and the Janjaweed ("evil men on horseback")[8] paramilitary groups.[9][10] The actions of the Janjaweed have been described as genocidal rape, with not just women, but children also being raped, as well as infants being bludgeoned to death and the sexual mutilation of victims being commonplace.[11][12]


Destroyed villages (August 2004)

In 2007 a former employee of Google, Andria Ruben McCool, conceived the idea of using the high resolution imagery from Google Earth to map what was occurring in Darfur. The project was titled Crisis in Darfur and is run by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in partnership with Google earth. The software allows users to zoom in on the region, and users were able see over 1600 destroyed and damaged villages. Mark Tarn writing in the Guardian describes the images as 'dramatic' as the area is marked by red and yellow icons which he says 'graphically conveys the mayhem that has been inflicted on the people of the region'.[13]

In 2004 Colin Powell told the state committee on foreign affairs that a genocide had been carried out in Darfur, that the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed were responsible, and that the genocide may still be ongoing.[14] Powell stated that having reviewed the evidence which had been compiled by the State Department and having compared it to information which was freely available throughout the international community he came to the conclusion that genocide had been carried out in Darfur"[15]

In a speech given by President George W. Bush on May 29, 2017, he confirms that the situation in Darfur should be classified as a genocide. President Bush goes on further to say that the United States will be taking action against the Government of Sudan due to the lack of positive change in the country, at the hands of President Omar al-Bashir. In the same speech, President Bush details the way in which the United States' Department of Treasury will be tightening economic sanctions on Sudan. Not only will the United States tighten their economic sanctions, but President Bush claims that the Secretary of State will have meetings with the United Kingdom and other allies in order to put into action a new United Nations Security Council resolution. To end the speech, President Bush calls upon the United Nations, the African Union and other members of the international community to not obstruct the steps being taken to restore peace to Darfur. President Bush also calls upon the President Bashir to stop the injustices and killings of innocent people in Darfur. [16]

According to Rebecca Joyce Frey, the international community has taken the same stance with regards to Darfur as it did with the Rwandan Genocide, that of an 'outside observer' or 'bystander'. Joyce Frey also argues that Bashir, as well as other leaders have realized that the lack of intervention in Rwanda from the international community gives them free rein to continue the genocide without them having any serious concerns over international intervention.[17]

Nicholas Kristof writing in the New York Times has claimed China "is financing, diplomatically protecting and supplying the arms for the first genocide of the 21st century' in Darfur"[18]

China was seen as an enabler for President Bashir's resistance to UN deployment and international attention. China did press Sudan to accept the UN deployments in Darfur. However China had also supplied Khartoum with weapons and had the power to veto actions of the united Nations.[19]

In a 176-page report carried out by the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur to the United Nations Secretary-General, the Commission determined that the Government of Sudan did not intentionally pursue policies that would lead to genocide. The Commission "found that government forces and militias conducted indiscriminate attacks, including killing of civilians, torture, enforced disappearances, destruction of villages, rape and other forms of sexual violence, pillaging and forced displacement, throughout Darfur." The Commission concluded, however, that "[t]he crucial element of genocidal intent appears to be missing, at least as far as the central government authorities are concerned." The Commission goes on to say that the war crimes and crimes against humanity that occurred in Darfur are just as important as if the situation were determined to be a genocide. [20]

The Save Darfur Coalition, as David Lanz discusses in his article entitled, "Save Darfur: A Movement and Its Discontents", was one of the biggest international social movements and had significant impacts on how the world reacted to Darfur. Some of the achievements that Lanz attributes to the Save Darfur Coalition, that became extremely popular in the United States, was the change in rhetoric from the government. Lanz attributes Colin Powell's consideration of the Darfur Crisis as a genocide as one of the movement's biggest achievements. One other accomplishment that Save Darfur claims responsibility for was their vital role in lobbying the UN Security Council for their referral of Darfur to the ICC. [21]

In the United States, the Save Darfur movement got the attention of many celebrities, most notably including: Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Mia Farrow and Richard Branson. Farrow famously travelled to Darfur and filmed children playing. Farrow and Branson also posted videos[22] to YouTube, where they, and others, went on hunger strikes in solidarity to the people in Darfur. George Clooney was credited as one of the most influential celebrities to bring the Darfur Crisis onto the world stage. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt had made $1m donation to three charities working in Sudan. [23]

Proceedings of the ICC

Initially the ICC refused to add the charge of genocide to the indictment for Bashir, however following an appeal this decision was overturned. The trial chamber found that there were "reasonable grounds to believe him responsible for three counts of genocide".[24]

On 14 July 2009, the ICC issued an indictment for the president of Sudan, Omar Bashir, for crimes against humanity and for having facilitated and ordering the genocide in Darfur.[25] On 12 July 2010 the ICC issued a second indictment for the arrest of al-Bashir for genocide, this was the first instance of the ICC issuing an arrest warrant for the crime of genocide.[26] As well as Bashir another six suspects have been indicted by the court, Ahmed Haroun, Ali Kushayb, Bahar Abu Garda, Abdallah Banda, Saleh Jerbo, Abdel Rahim Mohammed Hussein, none of those indicted have yet been taken into custody.[27]

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, prosecutor for the ICC having filed charges for crimes against humanity, is also pursuing in his application the charge of genocidal rape as such actions can be tried before the ICC as stand-alone crimes.[28]


  1. ^ Williams 2012, p. 192.
  2. ^ Totten 2006, p. xxxix.
  3. ^ Elhag 2014, p. 210.
  4. ^ Al Jazeera2013.
  5. ^ Straus 2015, p. 233.
  6. ^ Daly 2010, p. 293.
  7. ^ Human Rights Watch b 2004.
  8. ^ Straus 2005, p. 126.
  9. ^ Hirsch 2012.
  10. ^ Hashim 2009, p. 226.
  11. ^ Rothe 2009, p. 53.
  12. ^ Hagan, Rymond-Richmond & Parker 2005, pp. 525–562.
  13. ^ Tran 2007.
  14. ^ January 2007, pp. 114-115.
  15. ^ Markusen 2009, p. 99.
  16. ^ https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2007/05/20070529.html
  17. ^ Joyce Frey 2009, p. 101.
  18. ^ Kelly & Moreno-Ocampo 2016, p. 112.
  19. ^ Funk, Kevin, and Steven Fake. Scramble for Africa : Darfur-Intervention and the USA. Black Rose Books, 2009.
  20. ^ http://www.un.org/news/dh/sudan/com_inq_darfur.pdf
  21. ^ https://www.jstor.org/stable/40388427?seq=5#metadata_info_tab_contents
  22. ^ https://www.youtube.com/user/fastdarfur/videos
  23. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/world/2007/may/19/film.usa
  24. ^ BBC 2010.
  25. ^ Phares 2010, p. 269.
  26. ^ Human Rights Watch2010.
  27. ^ Bartrop & Jacobs 2014, p. 732.
  28. ^ Scheffer 2008.


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  • Bartrop, Paul R.; Jacobs, Steven L (2014). Modern Genocide: The Definitive Resource and Document Collection. ABC-CLIO. p. 732. ISBN 978-1610693639.
  • BBC (12 July 2010). "Darfur warrant for Sudan's Bashir: ICC adds genocide". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  • Daly, M. W. (2010). Darfur's Sorrow: The Forgotten History of a Humanitarian Disaster (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 293. ISBN 978-0521838337.
  • Elhag, Hussein Adam (2014). "Energy development and transportation". In Ali, Hamid Eltgani. Darfur's Political Economy: A Quest for Development. Routledge. p. 210. ISBN 978-1857437119.
  • Hagan, John; Rymond-Richmond, Wenona; Parker, Patricia (2005). "The Criminology of Genocide: The Death and Rape of Darfur" (PDF). Criminology. 43 (3): 525–562. doi:10.1111/j.0011-1348.2005.00016.x.
  • Hashim, Nadra O. (2009). Language and Collective Mobilization: The Story of Zanzibar. Lexington. ISBN 978-0739122112.
  • Hirsch, Michele Lent (8 February 2012). "Darfur-Sudan". Women Under Siege. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  • Human Rights Watch (13 July 2010). "Sudan: ICC Warrant for Al-Bashir on Genocide". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  • Human Rights Watch b (7 May 2004). "Sudan: Government Commits 'Ethnic Cleansing' in Darfur". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  • Joyce Frey, Rebecca (2009). Genocide and International Justice. Facts On File. p. 101. ISBN 978-0816073108.
  • January, Brendan (2007). Genocide: Modern Crimes Against Humanity. Twenty-First Century Books. pp. 114–115. ISBN 978-0761334217.
  • Kelly, Michael J.; Moreno-Ocampo, Luis (2016). Prosecuting Corporations for Genocide. Oxford University Press. p. 112. ISBN 978-0190238896.
  • Markusen, Eric (2009). "Three Empirical Investigations of Alleged Genocide in Darfur". In Grzyb, Amanda. The World and Darfur, Response to Crimes Against Humanity in Western Sudan. McGill-Queen's Press. p. 99. ISBN 9780773535350.
  • Phares, Walid (2010). The Coming Revolution: Struggle for Freedom in the Middle East. Simon and Schuster. p. 269. ISBN 978-1439178379.
  • Rothe, Dawn (2009). State Criminality: The Crime of All Crimes. Lexington. ISBN 978-0739126721.
  • Straus, Scott (2005). "Darfur and the Genocide Debate". Foreign Affairs. 84 (1): 123–133. JSTOR 20034212.
  • Scheffer, David (3 November 2008). "Rape as genocide". New York Times. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  • Straus, Scott (2015). Making and Unmaking Nations: War, Leadership, and Genocide in Modern Africa. Cornell University Press. p. 233. ISBN 978-0801479687.
  • Totten, Samuel (2006). "Chronology: The Darfur Crisis". In Samuel Totten, Eric Markusen. Genocide in Darfur: Investigating the Atrocities in the Sudan. Routledge. ISBN 978-0415953290.
  • Tran, Mark (11 April 2007). "Mapping the Darfur conflict". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  • Williams, Dianne (2012). Race, Ethnicity, and Crime. Algora Publishing. p. 192. ISBN 978-0875869155.
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