For the Sunday Scribblings prompt, "deepest, darkest," drawings by two young victims of the Darfur tragedy and news of a resolution adopted Friday by the UN Human Rights Council. Photos of children's drawings courtesy of Human Rights Watch. Click photos to enlarge.
Thirteen-year-old Mahmoud describes his drawing: "These men in green are taking the women and the girls. They are forcing them to be wife. The houses are on fire. This is an Antonov. This is a helicopter. These here, at the bottom of the page, these are dead people."
A description of his drawing by Mostafa, age eight: “We were running. From soldiers. Janjaweed. Planes. They were chasing us. These are men. These are women. We ran to the wadi [riverbed, or oasis]. Then we ran to Chad.”
According to Human Rights Watch, the government of Sudan is responsible for “ethnic cleansing” and crimes against humanity in the context of conflict in Darfur, on Sudan’s western border with Chad. Since 2003, the Sudanese government and ethnic “Janjaweed” militias it arms and supports have committed numerous attacks on civilian populations of the Fur, Masalit, Zaghawa and other ethnic groups perceived to support the rebel insurgency. Government forces have participated in massacres, executed civilians—including women and children—burned towns and villages and depopulated land long inhabited by the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa. The Janjaweed militias - Muslim like the groups they attack - have destroyed mosques, killed religious leaders and desecrated Qurans belonging to their enemies.
Countless women and girls have been raped. Hundreds of villages have been bombed and burned; water sources and food stocks have been destroyed; property and livestock looted. Mosques, schools and hospitals have been burnt to the ground.
The United Nations estimates that more than two million people have been left homeless in the fighting. Almost a quarter of a million refugees are now in neighboring Chad, one of the poorest countries in Africa. Abandoned villages have been destroyed. Even when villages are left intact, many refugees are unwilling to return to Darfur unless their security is protected. “If we return,” one refugee told Human Rights Watch, “we will be killed.”
The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) ended its fourth regular session Friday in Geneva, adopting a compromise text regarding the crisis in Darfur. While this was welcomed as "a small step forward," Human Rights Watch said UNHRC failed to address many of the world's most urgent human rights situations.
"The council again chose talk over action on worsening human rights situations in countries such as Burma, Iran, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan," said Peggy Hicks, global advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. "The council's resolution on Darfur is a relatively bright light in an otherwise disappointing session."
The council adopted an amended Darfur text put forward by Germany, after extended negotiations involving a competing Algerian draft. The resolution establishes a group composed of six currently-serving independent experts on a range of abuses - including violence against women, extrajudicial executions and torture - and led by the council-appointed expert on Sudan. The group is charged with working to ensure follow-up and implementation of existing recommendations by the council and its experts, by the council's predecessor, the UN Commission on Human Rights, and by other UN human rights institutions. The group must report to the council in June. The text does not criticize the Sudanese government directly for its role in orchestrating and perpetrating violations of human rights and humanitarian law in Darfur.
African states played a key role in breaking the council's silence on Darfur. Cameroon, Ghana, Mauritius, Nigeria, Senegal and Zambia all called for action in response to a report on Darfur from a mission established in December by the council. These and other states, including Uganda and Mauritania, engaged in discussions over the German text. A key test for the council will be whether these and swing states such as India, Indonesia, the Philippines and South Africa will address abuses in other locations.