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. 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".
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'. By 2015 it was estimated that the death toll stood between 100,000 and 400,000.
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. 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.
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") paramilitary groups. 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.
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'.
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. 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"
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.
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".
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. 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. 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.
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.
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