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Darfur: Civil War Or Genocide? Essay

1198 words - 5 pages

According to Raphael Lemkin , Polish-born jurist who escaped Nazi Germany and served as an advisor to the U.S. Department of War during World War II, genocide is defined as “…the systematic murder of an entire national, ethnic, or religious group”(Vile). Despite the clarity that Lemkin’s term genocide brings, the world is still having trouble deciding when to apply the word. This is sharply exposed by the unending debate on the crisis in Darfur. To understand the crises in Darfur to be genocide, one must reflect on the history of the crisis, acknowledge the actions that constitute genocide, and evaluate the responsibility of other countries in ration to the crisis.
The beginning of the crisis’ history began with civil war. There are those who believe the high casualty and displacement statistics are the result of an unrelenting “… gurilla conflict” (Aliprandini) or civil war between the Arab and non-Arab peoples, who are predominantly native African Sudanese, since Sudan gained its independence in 1956 (ProQuest). The Arabs, who are primarily herders, and non-Arabs, who are generally farmers, coexisted for many years (Lerner). In 1984 a brutal drought hit Dafur. Prior to the drought the farmers would let the herders use the land for grazing. As a result of the drought, there was less land for grazing and farming creating great tension and competition between the farmers and herders. As the drought worsened, the African farmers stopped sharing the land with the Arab herders. The Arab herders suffered immensely. Some Arab herders tried to farm land themselves, but without the proper tool or knowledge, most were not successful. Other herders stole cattle from the African farmers, which turned into a miniature civil war between the farmers and herders and by 1988; hundreds if people were dying in the clashes (Lerner). Both Arabs and non-Arabs were responsible for the casualties. During that time Ahmad Dereij was elected Darfur’s governor (ProQuest). He caused major conflict when he chose mostly Fur and African politicians for the ministry. His preference towards the non-Arab Darfuris angered the Arab citizens. The history of civil war is a large contributing factor to what is happening in Darfur today.
The opposing side of the debate believes it is necessary to acknowledge the actions in Darfur constitute genocide. This belief is supported by the actions of the Sudanese government, the Janjaweed militia, and the casualty and displacement statistics. The most obvious question is asked “Are there justifications for the Sudanese government’s position that no international organization can interfere in its own internal affairs” (Milkias)? In 1989 Sudan’s democratically-elected government was overthrown by the Arab general, Omar al-Bashir. Omar al-Bashir did not treat the non-Arabs and Arabs equally. His government’s policies and laws mostly benefited Arabs. In response to unfair treatment, African rebels including the Sudan Liberation Movement and...

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