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The myth of peace in Darfur

The National Congress Party’s (NCP) peace agreements, like the DDPD, will never achieve peace as long as their signatories exclude the real actors in the conflict.

In July 2011 the Sudanese government with the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) signed the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD), an attempt to create the appearance of achieved peace and security in the region. The government directed all its media channels towards celebrating this “achieved peace” in Darfur whilst ignoring the fact that the most powerful rebel groups had not signed up to the document. The world however, has turned its back on the continued massacres.

Although the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued arrest warrants for the Sudanese president, Omar El Bashir, as well as a number of government officials for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity since 2003; they are yet to be prosecuted. In 2010 the Sudanese minister of justice assigned four special prosecutors to investigating these crimes; all of them resigned without explanation and having not made any progress in the investigations.

In January 2012 the Darfur conflict entered a new era with armed clashes between the Arab tribes themselves over ownership of land and resources in the north and south of Darfur. Although the government had supported the same Arab tribes in clashes with the non-Arab population, the magic faded quickly into undesired and uncontrollable conflicts. One of the residents testified, “It’s very hard now to stop the ongoing clashes, the tribes are armed, and whenever looting or killing happens they identify the perpetrator as an affiliate to a certain tribe rather than a criminal. The revenge goes beyond harming the perpetrator and extends to the families and tribe as a whole”.

Intertribal conflicts have always been part of life in Darfur; but the governments’ involvement is leading to endless devastating clashes. According to an activist, who prefers to stay anonymous, in August 2013 over 110 persons were killed in clashes between Rezeigat and Maalia tribes, hundreds of Maalia were displaced, their houses were looted and burnt while Abdel Hameed Kasha, the State Governor of Central Darfur supported Rezeigat in their war against Maalia, and he was publically accusing them of supporting rebel groups.

On July 31, 2012 and during the June/July 2012 protests in Sudan, 13 peaceful protestors were shot dead and over a hundred were injured by police and National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) officers in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur. The majority were minors and secondary school students. The Darfur Regional Authority (DRA), the principle instrument for the implementation of the DDPD, condemned the violent incidents but only blamed the federal government for their shortcomings in providing fuel and electricity. Two weeks later, on August 13 2012, the DRA premises were attacked by gunmen who kidnapped DRA officers and the state minister of youth affairs.

In December 2012, four students of Algazira University were found dead in a stream after having participated in a peaceful protest demanding the enforcement of the exemption of Darfuri students from public university tuition fees, as stipulated in the DDPD in 2011. Three out of the four students killed were originally from Darfur and Alsadig, one of them had waited five years until his family as well as residents of the Kalma camp were able to raise enough funds for his ticket to Khartoum and for his tuition at Algazira University. The DRA managed to send condolences to the familie: however, they failed to make any mention of the DDPD let alone provide any explanation as to why their children had been assassinated.

From 3 till 5 July 2013, the streets of Nyala witnessed violent clashes between Janjaweed, the pro-government militias, and the National Intelligence and Security Services NISS. This came after “Dakroon” - a nickname for one of the Rezeigat/Janjaweed leaders - and Abutira, a commander with border patrols, were shot dead by the NISS in the suburbs of Nyala. The violent clashes continued for three days, tens of people were killed, including two aid workers, while the exact numbers of those killed and injured from the NISS and Janjaweed remains unknown.

In Nyala market on 8 July 2013 Ahmed Salih Zakaria, a man from the Salamat tribe, shot Ali Koshaib, a Janjaweed leader and commander wanted by the ICC for committing crimes against humanity and war crimes. Koshaib, protected by a bulletproof vest, only suffered an injury to his arm, but his two bodyguards were killed. Zakaria was arrested immediately but died in custody two weeks later, and pro-government newspapers claimed that he had died from a bullet injury he sustained as he was trying to kill Koshaib. Furthermore, according to HRW, Ali Koshaib was involved in the ethnic attacks against the Salamat tribe in Central Darfur, in April 2013.

On 18 September 2013, Ismael Wadi, a businessman of Zaghawa descent was shot dead in Nyala. After his funeral, mass protests erupted in the city demanding justice and condemning the state of insecurity. Again the police shot live ammunition at peaceful protestors leaving 15 dead and over 70 people severely injured. The DRA, as usual, condemned the murder of Ismael Wadi and the consequent violence, however neglecting to mention the killing of the protestors.  A resident of Nyala testified to the fact that a curfew has been imposed from 7 pm onwards since these incidents took place, and that at the beginning of November this curfew was pushed to 8pm and anyone who attempted to break it was risking his or her life. If the person was lucky they would be forced to spend the night in a public park, prosecuted in the morning and punished by paying a fine or facing imprisonment. Although South Darfur appears to be the most troubled; according to Radio Dabanga on 6 November 2013, the government is insisting on evacuating the camps around Nyala and forcing Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to return to their villages.

The Darfur conflict is now completing its first decade; over 300,000 civilians have been killed and over 3 million people have been displaced, of which over 450,000 fled this year alone. There are hundreds of thousands of children who’ve never had a place they could call home, apart from the displacement camps. The National Congress Party’s (NCP) peace agreements, like the DDPD, will never achieve peace as long as their signatories exclude the real actors in the conflict. Peace in Sudan will never be achieved unless all the criminals are held accountable and justice is achieved for the martyrs, the displaced and for war survivors.

About the author

Yosra is a Sudanese blogger & activist. As an advocate for the rights of women, refugees & displaced communities, Yosra has been selected as a correspondent for Voices of Our Future 2013 by World Pulse. She blogs in English/Arabic here & tweets @sudanesedream

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