31 August 2012

Genocide Scholars Call Attention to South Kordofan and Blue Nile States

A group of 66 genocide experts wrote an open letter to President Obama calling to attention the humanitarian crisis faced by people living in Sudan's South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. The authors implore Obama to launch a humanitarian intervention into the region. "The continuing multiple atrocities amount to at least crimes against humanity. This, in and of itself, is alarming. According to the tenets of the Responsibility to Protect now is the time to protect the targeted population," they write.

“It has become impossible for us to remain silent. We exist to remind the world that genocide is not a crime merely found in history books, but something we must stand strongly against in both word and deed right now. If we do not stand with the victims, then we are automatically standing with those who commit such crimes. We urge the Obama administration to take a stand against these atrocities now for this very reason; otherwise, history will be unforgiving for further inaction,” explained Samuel Totten, genocide scholar and professor at the University of Arkansas.

The experts say that attacks by the Sudanese government has displaced 200,000 to 300,000 people who are taking shelter in the Nuba Mountains.Recently, attacks by the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement-North in South Kordofan displaced roughly 3,000 people. OCHA reports that relief was provided to those displaced by UN partners.

Projections by FEWS Net show that food security will remain a problem in South Kordofan at the end of the year. The good news is that it is an improvement over the current food security situation, but a lot will depend on the response, whether people can return home and crop yields.

Further problems are being caused by flash flooding. The majority of the problems are taking place in Darfur, but there have been problems in South Kordofan. In sum, the flooding has affected 100,000 people.

All these factors add up to a concerning situation in southern Sudan. The scholars are forceful in their wording, making it clear that they believe that R2P applies to the situation.
Although we welcome your efforts to aid the refugees who have found their way to camps in South Sudan, we must point out that as world leaders you have the moral authority granted by the UN’s unanimous 2005 declaration of the Responsibility to Protect to demand delivery of aid to those inside Sudan. As guarantors of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed that same year, moreover, you have not fulfilled your legal and moral obligation to sanction violators of that agreement. 
The Sudanese regime continues to slaughter its own civilians, while denying them access to aid and in defiance of various international treaties and conventions it has signed, not to mention the Sudanese constitution.
To ensure that aid can make it to South Kordofan and Blue Nile, they want the US to establish a a humanitarian corridor, work with the SPLM-N forces and include Sudanese officials in observing the distribution process.

Appeasement makes an appearance to characterize the US response thus far. They conclude that they are right and immediate action is necessary by appealing to a historic view saying, "If your administration chooses to stand with the victims of Sudan’s continuing campaign of ethnic cleansing, then history will accord you respect and honor. If you do not stand with the victims, history will be much harsher."

The same mistakes that were made in Darfur should not be made again, said John Hubbel Weiss of Cornell University. “The world witnessed this during the north-south war and in Darfur, so we should not be surprised that Bashir’s cronies are using it again. This is a calculated action meant to annihilate those who support the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North political and military movement. At the local level, this means that many people are automatically targeted based on geographic location and ethnicity regardless of their true political affiliations,” explained Weiss.

Read the full letter here.