African Sheikh Musa Hilal & Janjaweed - Misseriya and Rizeigat tribes sign peace deal in W. Darfur, W. Sudan
The signing ceremony was attended by the Governor of Western Darfur state and nine leaders from different tribes. Fighting between the two communities began in February last year. The chairman of the reconciliation committee, who is the minister of education in Western Darfur state, Abdalla Khamis Mohammed, spoke to SRS (Sudan Radio Service) on Tuesday (red highlighting in this blog post is mine):
[Abdalla Khamis]: “Both parties should abide by the agreement and stop being hostile towards each other. They should open paths for each other, and the rule of law should be attained by stripping tribes of their weapons and ammunition, this will be done in the presence of the nine tribes. The Messiriya was represented by Algomi Al-Tahir Hamid, while Rizeygat was headed by Alhag Khadam Abdulkarim Mohamed.”See further details and related reports here below, including a copy of Rebecca Hamilton's article regarding her interview with Sudanese Sheikh Musa Hilal, chief of the Rizeigat tribe. Although the interview took place in Sudan and the article was published last December, I held back from chronicling it here at Sudan Watch mainly because I took a dim view of its poor tabloid style content and crazy title: "The Monster of Darfur".
In my view, most of Ms Hamilton's writings on Sudan are dangerously naive and disrespectful. They make me cringe and my blood boil. To my mind, her irresponsible "reporting" and political activism is, like many other people on the Darfur bandwagon, driven by self interest. To be fair, Ms Hamilton is quite a talented writer. I wish I could write half as well as she does. Her training as a lawyer enables her to articulate in a manner that gives people the impression she really knows what she is talking about. If my memory serves me correctly, Ms Hamilton (pictured below) is a New Zealand-born Australian and was educated at Harvard in Boston, USA. According to her recent tweets on Twitter, she has just emigrated from Australia to the US. Incidentally, Sudan Watch receives a lot of visitors located in Australia.
For the record, here below is a sample of Ms Hamilton's tweets. Note that some of her tweets at Twitter have been deleted. After following her writings on Sudan over the past few years, I am amazed that she feels confident about visiting Sudan again. Why she expects to be permitted as a guest in Sudan is beyond my comprehension. Apart from the millions of lives and livelihoods at stake, what upsets me most about her writings is that they bring professional journalists (especially females) into danger and disrepute. Real war correspondents such as Julie Flint have risked their health and lives to report from Sudan. Any person can dub themselves a 'human rights activist' and think it is their right to say and do as they please. Unlike professional journalists, there is no code of conduct for 'human rights activists'. It seems to me that the business of human rights and its related activism is a cash cow concocted by and for lawyers and other opportunists who benefit from peoples misfortunes. Note who is making money from human rights issues and how terrorists and self proclaimed 'freedom fighters' are make a living. Most of them are feeding off the backs of illiterate poverty stricken people, like blood sucking leeches.
As a matter of fact, the Rebecca Hamilton's of this world are doing a disservice to the people of Sudan. Many thousands of officials and experts behind the scenes in and around Sudan know exactly what is going on but because Sudan is a tinder box of a war zone, and for the good of Africa and its residents, they wisely say the least. Surely, irresponsible people such as gobby Hamilton who are not professional war correspondents are either naive or stupid or foolish, or all three. Maybe it's a Harvard thing. It seems to me that when it comes to issues of democracy and human rights, Harvard educated people are brainwashed into a blinkered way of thinking. They all appear to think and speak in the same way, like robots produced in a factory. It reminds me of a sect, i.e. a faction united by common interests or beliefs. Interestingly, the best Western reporters on Sudan are all Brits.
Here is the copy of some of Hamilton's tweets. (Note that her bio on Twitter says "Currently writing book examining impact of advocacy on Darfur policy")
bechamilton: just sunk 2 hrs of my life into getting 2 ppl in kht who have each others ph #s to actually manage to talk- - -
Twitter / bechamilton 30 June 2010 18:07
bechamilton: up at 3am in NY to get Kht business hours. Plse let today be the day a visa comes through . . .
Twitter / bechamilton 30 June 2010 08:11
bechamilton: on plus side, have had time to catch up with my favorite colonel from fasher who is now making the adjustment back to headquarters
Twitter / bechamilton 29 June 2010 21:37
bechamilton: playing waiting game with Sudan consulate
Twitter / bechamilton 29 June 2010 21:35
bechamilton: doing battle with sudanese bureaucratic systems - one of my least favorite activities
Twitter / bechamilton 28 June 2010 19:51
bechamilton: exploring our new country on roadtrip honeymoon. now in kentucky abt to go to bluegrass music festival. i leave for sudan in 4 days.
Twitter / bechamilton 25 June 2010 15:38
Heading to airport. Immigrant visa in passport and brown envelope full of docs. Very excited to be immigrating to U.S.
10:30 PM 13 June 2010 via web
bechamilton: heading out to my "farewell to the hague" drinks!
Twitter / bechamilton 11 June 2010 17:04
bechamilton: It's right to have sticks AND carrots available but #ICC Art 16 shld not be thought of as part of that toolbox: http://bit.ly/cKykfe #IJC
Twitter / bechamilton 11 June 2010 14:48
bechamilton: Wondering what the protocol is for an ICC judge commenting on my blog that he is offended by my language . . http://bit.ly/9FUA0E #IJC
Twitter / bechamilton 11 February 2010 09:26 *
Cool. My @TNR piece on Musa Hilal made the most viewed list.(Wld have prefered the one on services for rape survivors had instead though)
10:56 PM 04 December 2009 via web
* [Copy of comment at Rebecca Hamilton's blog - Posted by Cuno Tarfusser http://bechamilton.com/?p=1641#comments
I had the opportunity to read your comment headed “No Criminal” on the Abu Garda decision of PTC I of the ICC and without going into the merits of the decision itself and your opinion about it, let me just say that I am astonished and I feel offended myself by the offensive language you used defining my colleagues, reducing what has been a serious and extensive legal debate between us to triviality. It is even worse that you present your debatable opinion as if it was mine “But to paraphrase:…”. Therefore I would like to express here my friendship, solidarity and esteem to my two colleagues, discussions with whom on legal issues and otherwise always have been and always will be informed by the utmost mutual respect.
Copy of reply comment - posted by Bec Hamilton:
Dear Judge Tarfusser
I apologize for any implication that you do not have the greatest respect for your colleagues. My “para-phrase” was tongue-in-cheek (I am, at times to my detriment, the product of an Australian culture of irreverence) – the tone of which was inappropriate to impute to you.
For the record, please see amendment in post above.
Bec Hamilton ]
RELATED REPORTS AND FURTHER READING
Copy of an extract from Wikipedia online, the free encyclopedia:
Janjaweed- - -
Dates of operation: 1987 - present
Leader: Sheikh Musa Hilal
Active region(s): Darfur, Sudan
Ideology: Islamic fundamentalism
Size: Unknown (less than 25,000 est.)
The Janjaweed (Arabic: جنجويد; variously transliterated Janjawid, in translation means "Devil on Horseback" ) is a blanket term used to describe mostly armed gunmen in Darfur, western Sudan, and now eastern Chad. Using the United Nations definition, the Janjaweed comprised Arab tribes, the core of whom are from the Abbala (camel herder) background with significant Lambo recruitment from the Baggara (cattle herder) people. This UN definition may not necessarily be accurate, as instances of members from other tribes have been noted.
In the past, they were at odds with Darfur's sedentary population over natural grazing grounds and farmland, as rainfall dwindled and water became scarce. They are currently in conflict with Darfur rebel groups—the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army and the Justice and Equality Movement. Since 2003 they have been one of the main players in the Darfur conflict, which has pitted the largely nomadic tribes against the sedentary population of the region in a battle over resource and land allocation.
Arab tribes sign peace deal in Sudan's Darfur
Copy of report by Andrew Heavens in Khartoum, Sudan - excerpt:
KHARTOUM - Tuesday, 29 June 2010 (Reuters) - Two rival Arab tribes have signed a peace deal in Sudan's Darfur region, peacekeepers said on Tuesday, raising hopes for an end to fighting that has killed more than 200 people since March.- - -
Leaders from the Misseriya and Rizeigat groups signed a reconciliation deal in the West Darfur town of Zalingei on Monday, said Darfur's U.N./African Union UNAMID mission in a statement.
The two groups have been caught in a cycle of revenge attacks since the killing of two members of the Misseriya group early in March.
UNAMID said hundreds of people had been forced to flee the fighting which one U.N. source has said may also have been based on an underlying struggle for control of fertile grazing land.
The deal came after weeks of meetings between the two groups and officials from the peacekeepers and local government. [...]
Two rival Darfur tribes sign reconciliation agreement
Copy of press release by United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) - Tuesday, 29 June 2010 (via ReliefWeb):
29 June 2010 - Two Darfur tribes, the Misseriya and Rezeigat Nouaiba, yesterday signed a reconciliation agreement in Zalingei, West Darfur. The ceremony, held at the local University, was attended by the Wali (Governor) of West Darfur, officials from the Sudanese Judicial and Legislative Council, senior military and police officials and members of the Native Authority, as well as officials from UNAMID.- - -
Since the conflict began in early March between the two tribes, more than 200 people have died in clashes and hundreds have been displaced.
A reconciliation committee was established on 29 April involving native administrations and local leaders, with UNAMID and the Darfur Peace and Reconciliation Council (DPRC) in order to assist the tribes in reaching a lasting peace accord. A conference was organized last month in Zalingei aimed at addressing the causes of the conflict and to discuss ways in bringing the two tribes to a peaceful resolution.
Darfur: UN-African mission welcomes peace deal between warring tribes
Copy of report from UN News Centre - Tuesday, 29 June 2010 - excerpt:
[...] Sporadic clashes between the two groups first erupted in early March, with the most recent outbreak occurring last week in two villages not far from Zalingei. The latest fighting reportedly killed 20 people.Click on various labels at the end of this blog post to view related reports in the archives of Sudan Watch.
UNAMID, the Darfur Peace and Reconciliation Council and local leaders and native administrations set up a reconciliation committee earlier this year to try to end the fighting, and a conference was also held last month in Zalingei as part of efforts to tackle the root causes of the conflict.
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The forgotten Arab victims of the Darfur Sudan Chad conflict
Among Arab leaders there is growing frustration that they are the forgotten people, accused of being Janjaweed when many families played no part in the conflict, or lost everything when they could ignore it no longer.
They accuse aid workers, celebrities and campaigners with the Save Darfur Campaign of concentrating efforts on the African tribes, neglecting the suffering of Arab communities.
Adam Mohammed Hamid, of the Nomad Development Council of Sudan in Khartoum, said: “People think they know who the Arabs are, but they don’t. They come to Sudan and speak to the African tribes, but no one speaks to the Arabs. Many are not fighting. Some are in the rebels. It is not what people think.”
Without the Janjaweed on board there will be no lasting solution, writes ROB CRILLY, in Otash Camp, South Darfur. Read Full story published at Sudan Watch, March 16, 2010: The forgotten Arab victims of the Darfur Sudan Chad conflict
Photo and caption from Sudan Watch archives May 2006: Musa Hilal, an Arab tribal chief accused by the United States of leading a dreaded militia in Darfur, rides his horse in Misitiriyha in north Darfur, Sudan, May 10, 2005. Musa told Reuters in an interview that he would not go to a court outside Sudan but would accept a fair trial in the country and added that if national trials for war crimes in the western region were unjust or political, he would fight this with all the means at his disposal. Picture taken May 10, 2005. (Reuters/Beatrice Mategwa Wed May 11, 2005; 2:47 PM ET)
Photo and caption from Sudan Watch archives May 2006: Musa Hilal, chief of Arab Rizeigat tribe in Mistiriyha, North Darfur, Sudan May 10, 2005 (Reuters/Taipei Times)
Photo and caption from Sudan Watch archives May 2006: Sudanese tribal leaders (from L to R) Ibrahim Abdalla Mohamed, Saeed Mahmoud Madibo, Mostafa Omer Ahmed, Ahmed Alsamani and Mohamed Adam Rijal wait to participate in a meeting with rebel groups during negotiations on a peace plan for Darfur in Abuja, Nigeria Tuesday, 02 May 2006. The government of Sudan has accepted an 85-page draft settlement but three Darfur rebel factions refused to sign, saying they were unhappy with the proposals on security, power-sharing and wealth-sharing. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)
Photo and caption from Sudan Watch archives May 2006: Sudanese tribal leaders attend the Darfur talks at the venue of the Darfur peace talks in Abuja, Nigeria, Tuesday, 02 May 2006. (AP/ST)
Photo and caption from Sudan Watch archives 26 September 2004: Arab tribal leaders (from left) Ramadhan Daju Hassan, Mohammed Idris Maghrib and former member of parliament Obeid Habullah Dico calling for peace in West Darfur, Sudan.
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"THE MONSTER OF DARFUR" by Rebecca Hamilton
For the record, here is a copy of the article (mentioned above) by Rebecca Hamilton, published on The New Republic (http://www.tnr.com) 03 December 2009; 12:00 am:
The Monster of DarfurFURTHER READING
Musa Hilal has the blood of hundreds of thousands on his hands, but the Janjaweed leader claims he's just a peacemaker.
In late February 2004, Janjaweed militias and Sudanese government forces waged a three-day, coordinated assault on Tawila, a village in northern Darfur. Government aircrafts destroyed buildings, while the Janjaweed broke into a girls’ boarding school, forced the students to strip naked at gunpoint, and then gang-raped and abducted many of them. Video footage shows fly-covered corpses strewn among the village's smoldering ruins. And giving orders and distributing weapons during the siege, eyewitnesses say, was Sheikh Musa Hilal.
Hilal's name looms large on the list of perpetrators who’ve committed atrocities in Darfur since violence erupted there in 2003. At Khartoum's request, he organized the Janjaweed, predominantly Arab militias that have operated hand-in-glove with the Sudanese government to cleanse Darfur of its non-Arab population. Hilal, who is now almost 50 years old, is among those most responsible for the deaths of more than 200,000 people and the displacement of another 2.7 million. The U.S. government has sanctioned him, and the United Nations has issued a travel ban and asset freeze against him. In mid-2006, Hilal stopped giving English-language media interviews.
This past August, however, he agreed to meet with me--three years and two months since he had last spent time with a Western journalist. Sheikh Musa, as Hilal is known by his Mahamid clan, said that he wanted to correct the “misperceptions” the world has about him.
At his palatial villa in Khartoum, where paintings of Mecca and Medina adorn the walls, Hilal greeted me wearing a flowing white djellabya and a smile on his lightly freckled face. He escorted me and my translator across his porch, past a group of men sitting cross-legged on mats--Hilal’s relatives, who double as his bodyguards because he only trusts his tribe for security. As we settled into his lounge room, servants offered us chilled Coca-Cola and bottled water. Caramels with “Made in Poland” wrappers sat in small crystal bowls on the coffee tables.
Hilal was hospitable, even charming, as he discussed his career with me, insisting that he is anything but the cold-hearted criminal the world thinks he is. Since January 2008, he has worked as an adviser to the Ministry of Federal Affairs, so he spends his days in an air-conditioned office next to President Omar Al Bashir's Republican Palace on the edge of the Blue Nile. It's a far cry from the deserts of Darfur. But Hilal told me that he didn’t accept the offer of a bureaucracy position immediately. “I said to [the president], ‘I am the leader of my tribe. … I am a very rich man. I know there are some advisers who just sit here to get money, but I want to actually have a job--solving the problem of Darfur!’” he recounted, with a grandiose sweep of his arm. Hilal shifted his embroidered taqiyah, a skull cap, back from his forehead, revealing a receding hairline. “I said, ‘If all I do is sit here--well, I can sit with my tribe. Also, if you think I need this position to make me famous, I don’t. I am already known all over the world.’”
Hilal agreed to the new job when Al Bashir told him that he could be “useful” in Darfur. Leaning forward in his chair, to be sure he had my full attention, Hilal explained that "useful" is all he's ever wanted to be. "All my work," he said, "depends on struggling hard to make peace in Darfur."
Hilal became the leader of some 300,000 Mahamid, an Arab tribe in Darfur, in the late 1980s, as an influx of weapons was seeping into Sudan from Chad and Libya. This ignited Darfur’s troubles, Hilal said, because African tribes started demanding more government representation and support--and they suddenly had the means to fight for it. "They only cared about their own tribes--the Fur, Zaghawa, and Masaleit. They started to attack the Arab tribes," Hilal said, pulling at his faint, graying goatee. "We Arab leaders told them that this way--fighting--was not a good solution.” (He didn't mention his involvement with the Libyan-supported "Arab Gathering," or Al Tajama al Arabi, an ethnically polarizing political movement described by Sudan expert Alex de Waal as “a vehicle for militarized Arab supremacism.”)
Tensions continued to mount over the next several years, and, in late 2002, the governor of North Darfur arrested Hilal because he hoped that removing him from the region would dissipate ethnic hostilities. While Hilal was under house arrest, however, rebel forces in Darfur attacked a Sudanese air base, and Khartoum asked the Mahamid leader to become an ally--specifically, to recruit and coordinate local Arabs to serve in proxy militias for the government. “We accepted this invitation of the government to be armed by them, and, from that time on, we stood with the government," Hilal said.
At the height of the atrocities in Darfur, the Janjaweed that Hilal recruited systematically terrorized, raped, and killed non-Arab civilians. As the militias surrounded villages, the Sudanese air force would destroy homes, schools, and markets with crude bombs. As villagers tried to flee, the Janjaweed were there to complete the destruction.
As Hilal describes it, however, his goal has always been “for all the people who fight to come and sit together to find peace.” When I brought up a 2004 memo that he wrote for Janjaweed commanders and the government’s security and intelligence services, stating his objective to “change the demography of Darfur” and to “rid Darfur of all African tribes,” Hilal scoffed. “False,” he said, claiming that he had never written it. "Why would I want to take the Africans out when I myself am African?” With a laugh, he said that alleging differences between ethnic groups in Darfur is "out of date. No one … today will say ‘I am Arab' or 'I am African.’”
The Sudanese government first promised to disarm the Janjaweed in 2004. But, after meeting Hilal, I traveled to Darfur and saw a group of the militiamen on the outskirts of Kalma, one of the region's largest displaced persons camp. (United Nations staff told me that the Janjaweed are often there.) When the women in the camp leave to collect firewood or seek work in town, they know that they risk being attacked. I was told of one woman who, while walking away from the camp just a few weeks earlier, was approached by a man she described as Janjaweed. He had a young boy with him. The man grabbed the woman, tore off her clothes, beat her, and raped her. When he finished, he said to the boy, “Now it’s your turn with the black woman.”
After my return from Darfur, Hilal agreed to meet with me for a second time. It was late at night and pouring rain. My driver, fearful that Sudan’s ubiquitous national intelligence and security agents might see his car stationed outside Hilal’s house, insisted on parking some blocks away. By the time I got to the front gate, I had waded ankle-deep through Khartoum's muddy streets. (One of Hilal's armed guards rinsed the mud from my feet with a garden hose.)
Hilal stood to greet me, and we entered his lounge-room once again, where servants offered freshly squeezed orange juice. This time, however, he had an English-speaking relative accompany him--presumably a safety net to make sure my translator didn't misconstrue any of Sheikh Musa’s words.
Hilal seemed genuinely slighted that I had traveled to Darfur without him. “Next time you go, I will pay for you to go with me!” he said, with a characteristic sweep of his hand. It was the same invitation he had made to Samantha Power when she was writing a piece for The New Yorker some five years earlier. Now, as then, Hilal also refused to take responsibility for the violence and despair in Darfur. Regarding President Omar Al Bashir's indictment by the ICC earlier this year, he said simply, “I object.” Asked if he is concerned about being indicted himself, he replied dismissively, “I feel the same as Bashir: This court is not our concern.” Still, he flinched the first time I said ICC, even before my question was translated. And he stopped accentuating his words with the open and confident gestures of a man accustomed to respect, instead assuming the closed, cross-armed posture of a man under attack.
Hilal soon steered the conversation back to the rehearsed lines from our first meeting, about how he hopes, particularly in his bureaucratic role, to create dialogue among the people of Darfur. President Al Bashir's decision to appoint Hilal as a formal adviser was likely a signal to the proxy Arab militias that, as the ICC began indicting people suspected of crimes in Darfur, the government wouldn't hang them out to dry. But having the Janjaweed leader on its formal payroll is also sure to be problematic as Sudan seeks to normalize relations with the West.
Hilal, however, is undeterred by such concerns. He told me that the world needs to recognize the real victims of the Darfur conflict: the Arabs. As Hilal explains it, Arabs were forced to flee their villages long before any “zurga” (literally “black,” a derogatory term for non-Arabs). But, he added scathingly, “[W]e would never go to a [displaced persons] camp and be seen as beggars." To solve the crisis in Darfur, Arabs have to be in charge, he continued. "We have the majority in the field. We have the majority of the livestock. There can be no solution without us”. He sat back in his chair and lit a cigarette. “I am not the leader of the Janjaweed. I am the leader of all the Arab tribes in Darfur,” Hilal said, his relaxed confidence returning.
Putting out his half-finished cigarette, Hilal indicated to my translator that the interview was over. I pushed for one more question, and asked if he has any regrets about his conduct in Darfur. He paused to think. “I have an idea for a solution in Darfur, but I have not been able to implement it on the ground," he said, offering no details. “This is the one thing I am sorry for."
Rebecca Hamilton is the author of the forthcoming book The Promise of Engagement. She is an Open Society Fellow and a visiting fellow at the National Security Archives.
Source URL: http://www.tnr.com/article/economy/the-monster-darfur
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www.tnr.com/article/economy/the-monster-darfur?page=0%2C1 - Cached
www.realclearworld.com/.../the_monster_of_darfur_106807.html - Cached
www.clonick.com/blog/category/mundo-latente/page/204/ - Mexico - Cached
ijcentral.org/blog/P210/ - Cached
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Rebecca Hamilton est étudiante dans un programme conjoint organisé par la Faculté de droit d’Harvard et par la John F. Kennedy School of Government, où elle est une boursière Knox. Avant de commencer ses études de droit, elle a travaillé au Soudan avec les populations déplacées à l’intérieur des frontières. A son retour aux Etats-Unis, Rebecca a cofondé l’association Harvard Darfur Action Group, laquelle a été impliquée dans la décision historique d’Harvard de retirer ses investissements des compagnies qui soutenaient la campagne génocidaire du gouvernement soudanais. Depuis, elle travaille à la mise en place d’une coalition politique permanente contre le génocide et les atrocités de masse au travers du Réseau d’intervention contre le génocide, et elle intervient régulièrement au travers des Etats-Unis pour parler du Darfour. Elle a rédigé pour le Harvard Human Rights Journal un article intitulé « The Responsibility to Protect: From Document to Doctrine-But What of Implementation? », et elle a récemment coécrit le plaidoyer pour le Darfour « Not On Our Watch », publié dans l’ouvrage War In Darfur and the Prospects for Peace (édité par Alex de Waal). Elle a écrit à propos du Soudan dans des quotidiens tels que The International Herald Tribune et The Boston Globe. En 2005, Rebecca a travaillé pour le Tribunal pénal international pour l’ex-Yougoslavie, et en tant que directrice de rédaction du Harvard Human Rights Journal. Mlle Hamilton a obtenu son baccalauréat en Australie, où elle a reçu la médaille universitaire et les distinctions pour son travail en neuroscience à l’Université de Sydney. (Source: http://efchr.mcgill.ca/InternationalYoungLeaders_fr.php)
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Quote of the Day
"The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." — Albert Einstein