- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 8, 2007

This is the first of two columns about the ongoing genocide in Darfur.

President Omar Bashir, head of the National Islamic Front government of Sudan, will not allow the International Criminal Court to question suspects involved in his nation’s genocide in Darfur (which he denies). His minister of foreign affairs, Al Samani El Wassili, insists, according to the March 25 Sudan Tribune.com, that the sovereign nation of Sudan is fully able to conduct its own investigation of alleged crimes in Darfur. This, he assures us, is because Sudan has one of the best systems of justice in Africa.

Two women — Saadiyeh al-Fadel and Umounah Daldoum — have been convicted of adultery, and, now waiting for execution, they are being held in Wad Medani prison. One of the condemned women has her 18-month-old daughter with her. (Presumably, the child will not also be stoned to death, but her fate is uncertain.) Lt. Gen. Bashir boasts that the Sudanese judicial system authorizes Islamic Shariah law — which stipulates death by stoning for adultery.

According to the Associated Press, Faisal al-Bagir of the Khartoum-based Sudan Organization Against Torture says the women’s trials were unfair under the justice system. But Lt. Gen. Bashir asks us to trust this system to deal on its own with crimes that might have been committed in Darfur by forces other than those of his “innocent” government.

“There were no defense lawyers,” explains Faisal al-Bagir, “and the trial proceedings were in Arabic, a language the defendants do not understand.” (Their male partners will not be punished.) Both women have confessed to adultery, but it is unclear how the confessions were obtained. The two women, sentenced last year, await the throttling hand of Lt. Gen. Bashir’s justice. Both women, the Sudan Tribune reported on March 15, “are in bad condition and are suffering psychologically due to the harsh judgment passed on them.”

Where is the National Organization for Women? Where are such feminist icons as Gloria Steinem? Are not the black women of Darfur who have been repeatedly and brutally raped their sisters? Will American feminists not try to stop the stoning to death of the two women? Or will there at least be a vigil when these women are dead at the hand of Lt. Gen. Bashir? Or do most American males and females not care about the walking-dead survivors in Darfur — so far away and so black?

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported (March 8) that U.N. human rights head Louise Arbour charged that the mass rapes of women in Darfur have not abated. On International Women’s Day in The Hague, Mrs. Arbour noted that Darfur women in refugee camps “are forced to go out of the camp to collect firewood. They believe, they tell us, that if the men went out they would be killed, and that’s why it’s the women who expose themselves, and they get raped. These women “have children from these rapes — children to whom they cannot give a name because they’re the children of the janjaweed [rapists].”

The monstrous, murderous Arab janjaweed are Lt. Gen. Bashir’s militia. Along with Sudanese army soldiers and helicopters, the janjaweed have also killed many thousands of black African men in Darfur and burned out the villages. Children have also been raped, and there have been reports of children being tossed into the flames by laughing members of the janjaweed.

By now, there have been many reports in the American press on what U.N. officials ritualistically and accurately describe as “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.” In a newly released book, “The Devil Came on Horseback: Bearing Witness to the Genocide in Darfur” (Public Affairs Books in New York), co-author Brian Steidle, a former captain in the Marine Corps, details what he witnessed as a military observer for the African Union in Darfur.

He tells of a 1-year-old, Mihad Hamid, who had been shot in the back as her mother was running from Sudanese government troops: “The child had gaping entry and exit wounds that accentuated her struggle to breathe.” “The Devil Came on Horseback” ends with questions: “What nation can allow genocide to continue? What person can turn their back on the victims of such hatred? When the genocide in Darfur has ended, what will you say you did to stop it?”

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