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Yahya, Rone, and Hurwitz

Pictured above, from right, Western Darfur native Mohamed Yahya, Jamera Rone, and Director of the Law School’s Human Rights Program, Deena Hurwitz.

U.S., International Community Failing to Pressure Sudanese Government

“The only solution to stop what’s going on in Darfur is international intervention,” Mohamed Yahya said to a Law School audience on February 7. Yahya, chairman of the Charlottesville-based Damanga Coalition for Freedom and Democracy and a native of Western Darfur in Sudan, joined former U.S. Agency for International Development administrator Roger Winter, and Human Rights Watch counsel Jemera Rone in criticizing the international community for moving too slowly in Darfur and for sending the wrong message to the government there. The panel was sponsored by the Law School’s Human Rights Program and the J.B. Moore Society of International Law.

“I FEEL SO SAD when the law which is made to protect the people all over the world fails to protect my people in Darfur.”

While wars in Sudan have been ongoing for decades, the government has undertaken a campaign to wipe out civilians of the Darfur region, hiring Arab militia, called Janjaweed — slang for outcasts or highway robbers — to help clear out villages. An estimated 30,000 people have been killed by Sudanese and Janjaweed forces, and 1.8 million have been displaced, including 200,000 who fled into Chad. The humanitarian crisis threatens even more lives because the Janjaweed have destroyed livestock and farms.

The Sudanese government believes the villages are the rebel base for recent insurgencies, said Rone, counsel for Human Rights Watch’s Africa division.

“The Sudan government was surprised because the international community had started to make a lot of noise about it,” Rone said. A war in southern Sudan between the Arab government in the north and the mostly black, Christian southerners had gained international attention as well. When a peace agreement was signed in January, there was no statement condemning government actions in Darfur.

“Unfortunately the international community and especially the UN failed to act seriously to stop what is going on in Darfur,” said Yahya, a member of the Massaleit tribe, one of the groups the Sudanese government targets. Yahya had been studying at al- Azhar University in Cairo when he learned his village had been attacked and many of his relatives killed. He found asylum in the United States in 2002 and moved to Charlottesville. “I feel so sad when the law which is made to protect the people all over the world fails to protect my people in Darfur.” Full Story

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