The Darfur Crisis

Sudan has been embroiled in a series of civil wars since 1983. On 6/30/1989, a military coup by Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir brought authoritarian rule to Sudan. In 1991, Islamic law was imposed on non-Muslims in the areas within his control. The people of northern Sudan are primarily Arabic Muslims, while the people of southern Sudan are primarily African Christians and practitioners of traditional indigenous religions. As a result of the effort to impose Islamic law, a civil war commenced between the northern region and the southern region.

A comprehensive Peace Agreement established an interim Government of National Unity on 1/9/2005. Southern Sudan was granted autonomy and, following a referendum held in 1/2011, South Sudan seceded on 7/9/2011. The Islamist National Congress Party, governed by President al-Bashir, continues to rule northern Sudan.

In 2/2003, the Sudan Liberation Movement (S.L.M.) and the Justice and Equality Movement (J.E.M.) charged the Sudanese government with oppressing non-Arab Sudanese in favor of Arab Sudanese and commenced military action. In response, the government-supported Janjaweed militia (from the northern Arabic region), the Sudanese military, and the Sudanese police, have terrorized the African population in the western Darfur region of Sudan. The Liberation and Justice Movement (L.J.M.) later joined the fighting against the government.

Over 300,000 civilians have died in the western region of Darfur since 2003. Many have died through forced starvation. The Janjaweed militia, the Sudanese military, and the Sudanese police have been accused of torture, rape, enslavement, and the murder of men, women and children, most of whom are noncombatants. An estimated 1.9 million people have been internally displaced in Darfur; over 270,000 have fled to Chad. Hundreds of villages have been destroyed. Crops and livestock have been stolen or destroyed. The Janjaweed militia has also blocked aid from reaching refugee camps, so those in the camps are starving. On 7/31/2007, a U.N./African Union force of peacekeepers were authorized. However, they have not been effective in protecting the civilian population.

On 9/9/2004, the U.S. accused the Sudanese government of genocide and, on 2/2/2005, the U.N. conceded that war crimes and crimes against humanity had been committed. On 3/31/2005, the U.N. Security Council approved a resolution to prosecute those who have committed such crimes before the International Criminal Court (I.C.C.). On 7/14/2008, the I.C.C. charged President Omar al-Bashir with war crimes and crimes against humanity for leading the campaign of murder, rape, and mass deportation. On 3/4/2009, the I.C.C. issued a warrant for his arrest on these charges. On 7/12/2010, the I.C.C. issued a second arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir, adding the charge of genocide.

One faction of the S.L.M. (Minawi) signed a peace agreement with the Sudanese government on 5/5/2005, but the other parties would not sign, and its provisions were never fulfilled. The J.E.M. and the Sudanese government signed a ceasefire agreement on 2/23/2010, with an agreement to pursue peace talks. In 4/2010, the S.L.M. (Juba Unity), S.L.M. (Unity), S.L.M. (National Consensus), S.L.M. (Abu Haraz), and the Banner of Democratic Sudan merged with the L.J.M. On 5/31/2011, a framework peace agreement was signed by the J.E.M., the L.J.M., and the Sudanese government. The S.L.M. (Minawi) did not participate in these talks. On 7/14/2011, the L.J.M. and the Sudanese government signed a peace agreement based on the framework agreement. The J.E.M. said that key issues identified in the framework agreement were not addressed.

The fighting continues.