Genocide Studies Darfur Special Issue

A special issue of the journal, Genocide Studies and Prevention, focuses on the case of Darfur. It includes an article by Alan Kuperman, examining the political calculations of the Darfur rebels, focusing in particular on whether the promise of an international intervention changed their calculations in favor of sustaining the war and blocking peace efforts. A second article, by Victor Peskin, examines the Sudan Government’s defiance of the ICC. There is a debate between Greg Stanton and Alex de Waal on whether Pres. Bashir should be charged and arrested by the ICC. Samuel Totten analyzes the 2005 International Commission of Inquiry into Darfur and argues that it erred in failing to identify genocide. There are also reviews of academic book on Darfur. The volume as a whole is an important addition to the academic controversies on Darfur, especially at the intersection between genocide studies and political science.

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One thought on “Genocide Studies Darfur Special Issue

  1. Review:
    Saving Darfur – Rob Crilly
    London – Reportage Press 2010

    This is Rob Crilly’s first book.

    He says that he left his mother’s home to Africa – a disarming reference to his refreshingly candid attitude (in view of the semi-stigma attached in certain UK regions to the young men and women who cling on to the family home in the Italian or Sudanese manner!) His experience, which we share is a remarkable voyage of discovery which he summarised in his book. His apprenticeship and first jobs were spent with highly reputable newspapers (including the Times and the Christian Science Monitor) as well as some less grand titles like the Daily Mail. He was so unassuming during the launch of his book (10 February 2010) in London that he insisted that his was not an academic work but a generalised chronicle of how his misconceptions about Darfur were shattered.

    The book (247 pages) has no index and no references; but these facts are misleading, because, buried in its pages, are several treasures that demonstrate the best qualities of British journalism, education and liberal values.

    Mr. Crilly chose a literary style, not a dry, crisp, factual record. He did so in a manner which (if I may digress) promise the emergence of a talented novelist in the near future.

    There are ten chapters in the book, all woven together very well, with lucid suspense; with the exception of chapter 6 which belongs somewhere else. The Teddy Bear Named Mohamed is about the arrest and subsequent pardon of Mrs. G. Gibbons in Khartoum. The likage to Darfur is contrived (that defiance and pressure do not work with the Sudanese who respond better to alternative methods).

    Without taking sides, Rob Crilly, like an innocent iconoclast, demolishes one myth about Darfur after the other. He begins with the claim that the conflict is between Arabs and Africans and shows, by visiting Jebel Marra (SLA stronghold) and meeting Arabs who sided with the Fur that the two were indistinguishable and that they were rebels and allies, not enemies.

    Then he demolishes the simplistic portrayal of the conflict as a black-and-white situation in which the rebels are good all the time and the government is guilty all the time. He realised that the rebels could manipulate the media and he recorded some incidents in which they were not the victims; but the aggressors (blocking the routes of nomads, stealing of aid agencies’ vehicles, recruiting children, using camps as arms dumps, obstructing aid deliveries).

    Another myth which Rob Crilly demolishes is the Arabs as Janjaweed. He visits them and reaches the conclusion that they are victims of climate change. Their migration and trade routes are blocked. Arab too were displaced; but they didn’t go to the camps and there was a “blind spot” about them. They “remained out of sight of the aid agencies, human rights monitors and journalists who began arriving.”

    Rob Crilly confronts the role of NGO’s and advocacy groups that called for “change” and not relief in Darfur and Sudan. They spent money calling for intervention in Sudan not reconciliation. Not a cent went to the relief effort in Darfur. He noted the contrast of focus. Five millions died in the D.R. of Congo; but there was more attention to Darfur! He explains the discrepancy by the “simplistic” message about Darfur. Conflicts in Somalia and the Congo were more complicated; less straightforward.

    He shows the faults in attitudes of N. Kristof, E. Reeves and J. Fowler. He even has the “guts” to question the role of a senior “Times” of London editor who visited the Justice and Equality leaders in Chad and wrote a “series of glowing articles” in their support. What Crilly didn’t specify is the Times senior reporter’s operational advice to the JEM rebels about the best timing for their next attack on Khartoum!!

    The roots of Save Darfur Coalition are not glossed over. It was organised by Jerry Fowler of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and Ruth Messinger of the American Jewish World Service. Evangelical Christians were invloved together with tens of faith-based organisations. Fowler today is not so sure. He admitted “In anything like this, there’s a bit of a learning curve”. Aegis Trust (the British holocaust organisation) no longer refers to “genocide” in its literature and website. Indeed Crilly quotes a US evangelical student whom he met in Darfur. The student candidly said: “It’s not a genocide; but if we call it a genocide then it gets people’s attention. Crilly does not mince his words about the advocacy campaign: “By focusing on criminalising the government and making military intervention a priority, Save Darfur had made peace more elusive and increased the suffering of ordinary Darfuris.”

    Rob Crilly’s criticism of the Save Darfur and the celebrities it mobilised acquires crediblity because the government too is severely censored. Although they enhance his credibility and honesty as a writer, his comments on the government’s actions are deficient because he seems to be unaware of the results of the fact-finding mission on Darfur. After several visits to Darfur and hundreds of interviews the official report stated that all sides (i.e. including government forces) have committed atrocities. It called for trials which have indeed convicted many culprits. We translated that report in London into English and distributed it. What the Sudanese government disputed is the allegation that what happened in Darfur was systematic and planned.

    Harsh criticism and condemnation of our government didn’t stop Rob Crilly from stating that the ICC indictment has actually made ordinary people “rally around” President Bashir. The timing is relevant because of the adverse effect on peace prospects.
    Missing from Crilly’s argument about timing is the consideration of both the ICC and Save Darfur as factors in “burying” news from Iraq, Afghanistan and Gaza.

    During the book launch, R. Crilly said that he didn’t believe in any “conspiracy” theory against Sudan.

    The present writer does not either, mainly because what was unleashed against Sudan (despite the anonymous cheques which financed Save Darfur Coalition) was not concealed. It was an open book. Those who have seen the concentration camps in Germany (the way I did) never deny the holocaust or its lessons; but they also read what is written by honest Jews and Israelis about the way the extreme right in Israel is manipulating the holocaust in order to justify “inexcusable acts” against the Palestinians as Jonathan Littell is quoted in the Israeli newspaper (Haaretz 31 May 08). Anti-Arab prejudice and seeing Sudan through the Arab Israeli conflict are the two main “magic” factors in the foundation spread of Save Darfur campaign. They are both baseless; for Sudan is quite moderate in the Arab-Israeli conflict. It accepted the Saudi – Arab League proposal for a two state solution, giving the Palestinians only 22% of Mandate Palestine.

    To conclude, Rob Crilly’s book is not an academic work; but it is in the best traditions of investigative journalism. Its place in any book collection about Sudan or Darfur is secure, more secure than some of the “politicised spin research” which adorns many shelves.

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