Powell: Sudan Killings ‘Genocide’
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell went one step further today than he has before by declaring that the killings by militia forces terrorizing the Darfur region of Sudan amount to genocide. In testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee he painted a grim picture of rapes, burning of villages and other atrocities committed against black Africans in Darfur by the Arab forces known as Janjaweed. He also laid the blame squarely with the government in Khartoum. “We concluded Ã¢€” I concluded Ã¢€” that genocide has been committed in Darfur, and that the government of Sudan and the Janjaweed bear responsibility, and that genocide may still be occurring,” Mr. Powell said. He added that interviews with more than a thousand of the estimated 2.2 million people who have fled to neighboring Chad, indicated “a consistent and widespread pattern of atrocities,” with three-fourths of those interviewed reporting that the Sudanese military forces “were involved in the attacks.” “This was a coordinated effort, not just random violence,” he said.
Some 50,000 black Africans have been killed by marauding Arab Janjaweed militias armed and encouraged by the government in Khartoum in a campaign of razing villages, destroying crops and poisoning water supplies that the United Nations has characterized as ethnic cleansing. The killings were declared to be genocide by the United States Congress on July 22. Last week the Democratic presidential nominee, Senator John Kerry, called on the the Bush administration to declare the killings genocide.
Mr. Powell pointed out that Sudan “is a contracting party to the Genocide Convention and is obliged under the convention to prevent and to punish acts of genocide.” He added, “To us at this time, it appears that Sudan has failed to do so.” On Wednesday the United States circulated a draft Security Council resolution on Sudan threatening penalties on its oil industry and expanding an African Union force monitoring violence in the Darfur region. The measure will be formally introduced today.
In the strongest U.S. statement to date on the humanitarian crisis in Sudan, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell today said for the first time that “genocide” has been committed there and that the government of Sudan and Arab militias “bear responsibility.” “Genocide may still be occurring,” Powell said in a statement submitted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
As a party to an international genocide convention, he said, Sudan is obligated to prevent genocide and punish perpetrators. “To us, at this time, it appears that Sudan has failed to do so,” Powell said. Powell cited a State Department report formally released today based on interviews of Sudanese refugees in Chad. The report found “a consistent and widespread pattern of atrocities committed against non-Arab villagers in the Darfur region of Western Sudan.”
Interesting. The problem, it seems to me, is that terming the killings “genocide” would seem to require that we actually do something to stop them. That’s incredibly unlikely, unless one counts calling for UN sanctions as “something.”