Secretary of State Powell’s testimony on the genocide in Sudan , made before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee today, September 9, 2004, is clear and comprehensive. Powell’s text is must-read for those involved in the issue. Here is a key portion:
SYG Annan’s August 30 report called for an expanded AU mission in Darfur to monitor commitments of the parties more effectively, thereby enhancing security and facilitating the delivery of humanitarian assistance. The report also highlighted Khartoum’s failure to rein in and disarm the jinjaweid militia, and noted that the Sudanese military continued to take part in attacks on civilians, including aerial bombardment and helicopter strikes.
We have begun consultation in New York on a new resolution that calls for Khartoum to cooperate fully with an expanded AU force and for cessation of Sudanese military flights over the Darfur region. It also provides for international overflights to monitor the situation in Darfur and requires the Security Council to review the record of Khartoum’s compliance to determine if sanctions, including on the Sudanese petroleum sector, should be imposed. The resolution also urges the Government of Sudan and the SPLM to conclude negotiations on a comprehensive peace accord.
And finally there is the matter of whether or not what is happening in Darfur is genocide.
Since the U.S. became aware of atrocities occurring in Sudan, we have been reviewing the Genocide Convention and the obligations it places on the Government of Sudan.
In July, we launched a limited investigation by sending a team to refugee camps in Chad. They worked closely with the American Bar Association and the Coalition for International Justice and were able to interview 1,136 of the 2.2 million people the UN estimates have been affected by this horrible violence. Those interviews indicated:
— A consistent and widespread pattern of atrocities (killings, rapes, burning of villages) committed by jinjaweid and government forces against non-Arab villagers;
— Three-fourths (74%) of those interviewed reported that the Sudanese military forces were involved in the attacks;
— Villages often experienced multiple attacks over a prolonged period before they were destroyed by burning, shelling or bombing, making it impossible for villagers to return.
When we reviewed the evidence compiled by our team, along with other information available to the State Department, we concluded that genocide has been committed in Darfur and that the Government of Sudan and the jinjaweid bear responsibility — and genocide may still be occurring. Mr. Chairman, we are making copies of the evidence our team compiled available to this committee today.
We believe in order to confirm the true nature, scope and totality of the crimes our evidence reveals, a full-blown and unfettered investigation needs to occur. Sudan is a contracting party to the Genocide Convention and is obliged under the Convention to prevent and to punish acts of genocide. To us, at this time, it appears that Sudan has failed to do so.
Article VIII of the Genocide Convention provides that Contracting Parties “may call upon the competent organs of the United Nations to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article III.”
Today, the U.S. is calling on the UN to initiate a full investigation. To this end, the U.S. will propose that the next UN Security Council Resolution on Sudan request a UN investigation into all violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law that have occurred in Darfur, with a view to ensuring accountability.
Mr. Chairman, as I said the evidence leads us to the conclusion that genocide has occurred and may still be occurring in Darfur. We believe the evidence corroborates the specific intent of the perpetrators to destroy “a group in whole or in part”. This intent may be inferred from their deliberate conduct. We believe other elements of the convention have been met as well.
Under the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, to which both the United States and Sudan are parties, genocide occurs when the following three criteria are met:
— specified acts are committed:
b) causing serious bodily or mental harm;
c) deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about physical destruction of a group in whole or in part;
d) imposing measures to prevent births; or
e) forcibly transferring children to another group;
— these acts are committed against members of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group; and
— they are committed “with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, [the group] as such”.
The totality of the evidence from the interviews we conducted in July and August, and from the other sources available to us, shows that:
— The jinjaweid and Sudanese military forces have committed large-scale acts of violence, including murders, rape and physical assaults on non-Arab individuals;
— The jinjaweid and Sudanese military forces destroyed villages, foodstuffs, and other means of survival;
— The Sudan Government and its military forces obstructed food, water, medicine, and other humanitarian aid from reaching affected populations, thereby leading to further deaths and suffering; and
— Despite having been put on notice multiple times, Khartoum has failed to stop the violence.
Mr. Chairman, some seem to have been waiting for this determination of genocide to take action. In fact, however, no new action is dictated by this determination. We have been doing everything we can to get the Sudanese government to act responsibly. So let us not be preoccupied with this designation of genocide. These people are in desperate need and we must help them. Call it a civil war. Call it ethnic cleansing. Call it genocide. Call it “none of the above.” The reality is the same: there are people in Darfur who desperately need our help.
I expect that the government in Khartoum will reject our conclusion of genocide anyway. Moreover, at this point genocide is our judgment and not the judgment of the International Community. Before the Government of Sudan is taken to the bar of international justice, let me point out that there is a simple way for Khartoum to avoid such wholesale condemnation. That way is to take action.
The government in Khartoum should end the attacks, ensure its people — all of its people — are secure, hold to account those who are responsible for past atrocities, and ensure that current negotiations are successfully concluded. That is the only way to peace and prosperity for this war-ravaged land.
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