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Jewish World Review Feb 10, 2005/ 1 Adar I, 5765

Nat Hentoff

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Darfur: The genocide rages on | The United Nations has disgraced itself again. A special commission recently reported that the Khartoum government in Sudan is not committing genocide against the black African Muslims in Darfur. But even as the commission was investigating, the killings and government bombings of villages continued. As with the 1994 horrors in Rwanda, five years from now as the corpses mount in Darfur, some world leaders will again piously say: "Never again."

The U.N. special commission did admit that crimes against humanity and war crimes are taking place in Darfur by government-directed Arab Janjaweed and Khartoum's own soldiers and helicopters.

Yes, said the commission there is "killing of civilians, torture, enforced disappearances, destruction of villages, rape and other forms of sexual violence, pillaging and forced displacement. ... It is clear that most attacks were deliberately and indiscriminately directed against civilians." This is not genocide?

So far, at least 300,000 civilians have died from violence and disease, and some 10,000 more are annihilated every month. Yet, says this shamefully sophistic U.N. commission: "Generally speaking the policy of attacking, killing and forcibly displacing members of some tribes does not evince a specific intent to annihilate, in whole or in part, a group distinguished on racial, ethnic, national or religious grounds." That's the definition, in international law, of genocide.

Specifically speaking, international genocide is then, indeed, the case in Darfur.

At least 800,000 were massacred in Rwanda while Bill Clinton and Kofi Annan (then the head of the U.N. peacekeeping division) deliberately did nothing to stop it. How many more will have to be slaughtered in Darfur before enough of the world is able to confront the horrifying face of genocide and end it? A million? Two million?

Or, as Terry George — director, producer and co-writer of the film "Hotel Rwanda" — says in the Jan. 18 edition of Newsday: "Is it that we consider human life in Africa of less value than elsewhere?"

Is that how we feel in America? Where are the protests of the genocide by religious leaders in the streets? Does Michael Moore or care?

Now, the United Nations, increasingly useless in matters of life and death, is debating where those its commission has accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity should be prosecuted.

There is a movement, supported by Annan, to turn the suspects over to the International Criminal Court. The United States vigorously disagrees, for it has no confidence in that court, and instead suggests a new tribunal run by both the African Union and the United Nations. It would be installed at the war crimes court in Arusha, Tanzania, now dealing with suspects in the Rwanda genocide.

The New York Sun's Benny Avni — a persistently perceptive and candid reporter on the United Nations — wrote on Jan. 30 that this new debate, as the killing goes on in Darfur, is "like arguing about the shape of the prosecution table at Nuremberg while the gas chambers of Auschwitz are still active."

Can anything be done while this next debate at the U.N. General Assembly drones on — and the Janjaweed enjoy their murderous assignments from the Khartoum government?

The United States — in a statement by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell — has been the only nation to explicitly and honestly declare these atrocities in Darfur are genocide. And George W. Bush has shown deeply felt concern. But is there anything more we can do beyond words?

As Avni says: "What is needed, instead, is action. Backed by an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean, Washington should immediately declare and enforce a no-fly zone over western Sudan. A few British and American military experts should then help organize a sizeable African Union force on the ground, which will put an end to the slaughter and ensure that villagers can go back to their homes, now occupied by Khartoum-backed Janjaweed militias."

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As of now, there are some 1,300 African Union observers in Darfur, and they do not have the power or the authority to do more. They are without a mandate to stop the genocide — or whatever the slippery United Nations chooses to call it. But the United States and Britain could provide the funds to equip 10,000 or more African Union troops to go after the Janjaweed and protect those black African Muslims who still survive.

The English, however, want the International Criminal Court to prosecute the war criminals; but if Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush can transcend that disagreement, there is still a chance that Darfur will not become more of a Rwanda-like nightmare than it already is.

Both Blair and Bush had the courage and determination that resulted in the resounding elections in Iraq. Will they lead a coalition of the willing to bypass the impotent United Nations and demonstrate to the world that human life in Africa is of universal value? I see no other hope for the remaining victims in Darfur.

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Nat Hentoff is a nationally renowned authority on the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights and author of several books, including his current work, "The War on the Bill of Rights and the Gathering Resistance". Comment by clicking here.

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