Genocide Declaration Stirs World||
One of the two rebel groups in Sudan's Darfur region broke off peace negotiations
Wednesday, as the United Nations' World Health Organization issued new figures
saying 6,000 to 10,000 people are dying per month there in one of Africa's worst
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The report comes a week after U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell declared
that the killings, rapes and other atrocities committed in Darfur amount to "genocide."
Powell used the word in remarks before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
his finding on a U.S. State Department survey of 1,136 refugees living in neighboring
Chad. He determined that "the government of Sudan and the Janjaweed bear
responsibility, and genocide may still be occurring."
the Sudanese government claimed that Powell's statement was "flawed, regrettable
and dismaying." The government claimed the report was "based on partial
observations by an American team that had never set foot in Darfur and interviewed
politicized refugees in Eastern Chad."
is genocide and why is it significant?|
The word genocide came out of the violence of World War II and recalls the
Nazi attempt to systematically eliminate the Jewish people in the Holocaust. The
official definition is the intentional destruction of a national, ethnical, religious,
or racial group. In 1948 the United Nations General Assembly gave genocide a legal
definition in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of
Historically, many heads
of state have been hesitant to use the label genocide, as doing so would make
them legally obliged to act to "prevent and punish" the perpetrators.
years ago, the Clinton administration resisted applying the term genocide to ethnically
motivated massacres in Rwanda until 800,000 people had been killed. The former
president later apologized for not having acted more quickly.
was careful to emphasize that "no new action is dictated by the determination"
that genocide is occurring, a statement that has left some activist groups frustrated.
"You don't declare genocide and then fail to act," Salih Booker, executive
director of Africa Action told the Inter Press Service News Agency.
Prendergast, a Sudan specialist at the International Crisis Group warned that
will only be meaningful if it's backed up by more
assertive action at the U.N. Security Council."
conflict in Darfur|
Tension in Darfur between black Africans and Arabs dates back decades. The
two groups have long competed over scarce land, water and other natural resources.
However, the situation came to a head in early 2003, when two groups of
black Africans from the region openly rebelled against the Sudanese government,
demanding inclusion in new power-sharing arrangements.
suppress the rebellion, the Sudanese government trained and armed Arab militias,
according to human rights groups.
"The Janjaweed, armed militias supported
by the Sudanese armed forces, are committing massive human rights violations in
the Darfur region in the west of Sudan. They are systematically pillaging and
destroying the towns and villages of Darfur, forcing the people to flee for their
lives," Amnesty International reported.
To date, the violence has claimed
some 50,000 lives and has forced 1.4 million people from their homes. About 1.2
million of them live in camps within Darfur, while 200,000 have fled over the
border into Chad.
The Sudanese government denies supporting the Janjaweed.
can the Security Council do?|
On July 30, the United Nations' most powerful body, the Security Council passed
a resolution demanding that the Sudanese government disarm the Janjaweed and stop
the violence within 30 days. If the authorities failed to do so, the Security
Council threatened to take action against the government.
When the Secretary
General's Special representative to Sudan went to investigate the situation at
the end of August, he found that the government had not made satisfactory progress.
The Security Council is currently discussing how best to respond to this report.
members agree that more peacekeepers are needed on the ground. The African Union
has already sent monitors and troops to support them, and the United Nations advocates
expanding that force.
How to punish the Sudanese government is a more complicated
issue. The United States and the European Union have threatened sanctions in which
they would refuse to buy oil from Sudan, thus starving the government of profits
from the industry. However, China, which buys a lot of oil from Sudan, has threatened
to veto any Security Council resolution that includes sanctions.
Compiled for NewsHour Extra by Alexis Ortiz