The book: Not On Our Watch, by Don Cheadle and John Prendergast
Eliyahu N. Kassorla
Global Social Problems
C. Dale, Ph.D.
Darfur: A Brief Explanation
There is a country in Africa named Sudan. Sudan is independent now, but it was not always. The age of imperialism brought the Egyptians the north, and the British to rule the south. The Egyptians instituted Muslim rule and encouraged the spreading of Islamic values. The Egyptians were neglectful of the region of Darfur, and funneled their support and resources to the Arab north. The British, in control of the south, were also neglectful of the Darfur sultanate, devoting resources to the southern ports. The British did institute many reforms, including making English the official language and increasing the activity of Christian missionaries, to reduce the Islamic influence (53). Additionally, the northern-Sudanese are ethnic Arab, while the southern Sudanese are ethnic African (52).
As time progressed, the northern and southern halves of Sudan drifted apart and became very different. When the British withdrew after World War II, they left control and rule of south Sudan to the elites of north Sudan. Two years later, conflict began when General Ibrahim Abboud began violently proselytizing Islam in southern Sudan. This Islamisation triggered the first of many conflicts, using religion to justify mass murder and wanton human destruction. The Muslim north is very intolerant to non-Muslim beliefs and religions, and this immediately led to rebellion in the non-Muslim South. This conflict later took over baggage from the United States and Soviet Union, each attempting to win their ideological battle during the Cold War era. The Soviet Union regularly sold weapons to the north Sudanese, arming the militant Islamist government. Other governments armed the south Sudanese. After a failed military coup in the north, however, the north and south signed a peace agreement in 1972 (54). Nearly four years later, another Islamist dictatorship emerged. In 1983, the government ordered the southern Sudanese soldiers to abandon their weapons. When the soldiers refused this order, the northern Sudanese army was sent to attack, and the south Sudanese sought refuge in Ethiopia (56). Islamists, acting under the National Islamist Front, continued to enact laws demeaning the non-Arabs, such as declaring Arabic the official language, or imposing Islamic law (56-58). Three southern rebel groups emerged, the Justice and Equality Movement, Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement, and the Sudanese Liberation Army. In 1991, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army entered Darfur to spread pro-southern rebellion. In retaliation, northern forces burned dozens of villages.
All of these conflicts left Darfur underdeveloped, and the tribes of Darfur blamed the Arabs. Darfur is home to about eighty tribes, some of which are the Fur, the Masalit, and the Zaghawa. Further, the northern policies left Darfur with many displaced persons. To escape the conflict, many of the displaced persons crossed the border, in to Chad. Northern Sudanese were responsible for abduction and impressments into slavery of the Darfur people. These slaves were forcibly converted to Islam and denied education (61). Northern Sudanese were also responsible for 550,000 deaths by starvation (61). The Janjaweed, pro-Islamic-Arab mercenaries, continued to burn homes, mass killings, looting, rapes, and aerial bombardment of villages of non-Arabs (71).
Additionally, because of the famine, many more people died. Darfur is home to many nomadic tribes who depend on livestock for their sustenance. The encroaching desert reduced the grazeable area and the available water, leading to dramatic decline in the ability of the people of Darfur to provide food. Compounding this, the widespread theft of livestock by Janjaweed, as well as poisoning of the wells, left even more to starve (76). The north controlled government also diverted humanitarian aid, further compounding the starvations (77). Between 2003 and 2004, the northern Sudanese government impeded, and essentially blocked, international aid workers, relief supplies, equipment, and medicines (82). Further, the northern Sudanese government denied the ability of aircraft to fly the humanitarian aid (82). Further, upon arrival of aid workers to Sudan, on visas that were extremely difficult to obtain, the north Sudanese government further required the aid workers to attain travel permits to go to Darfur (83).
Although the conflict is seemingly complicated, one unalienable truth rings loud: it is unquestionably wrong to intentionally target non-combatant civilians, women and children. The goal of every civilized human being must be the extermination of any practice which contributes to the intentional destruction of innocent and non-combatant human life. Darfur is just one in a long list of conflicts intended to deprive persons of their inalienable, and Lockean, natural rights.