The African Genocides:The Rwanda-Darfur connection

‘The land of the dead,’ is what Rwanda was called in 1994. Dour images are what covered the frontpages of every popular magazine and newspaper with images of innocent children standing among the dead. Fortunately, the killings had phased out but unfortunately history is repeating itself in Darfur.
A UNAMID peacekeeper talks to displaced women in Darfur
A UNAMID peacekeeper talks to displaced women in Darfur

‘The land of the dead,’ is what Rwanda was called in 1994. Dour images are what covered the frontpages of every popular magazine and newspaper with images of innocent children standing among the dead. Fortunately, the killings had phased out but unfortunately history is repeating itself in Darfur.

Located in the western region of Sudan, Darfur is caught up in the cycle of genocide. The stages are so obvious but the most influential bodies worldwide choose to give a deaf ear, just like it was in 1994 when Rwanda’s cries for help were ignored.

Two genocides happening within a time frame of only 15 years in one continent is insane. If the Jewish holocaust was not enough to teach humanity about humane living, at least one would conclude that the Rwandan genocide that consumed over one million Tutsi lives will never again happen. But history is repeating itself in Darfur. 

Classification Stage

Just like the Rwandan genocide, the mission to eliminate lives basing on differences of views and appearance is the same.

While ethnic differences between the Tutsi and Hutu tribes was the reason for the frenzied killings in Rwanda, in Darfur inspite of the same religious belief in Islam, the difference in ethnicity between the Arab Muslims and the Black Southern Muslims is the reason for the frenzied killings.

This is the Classification stage of genocide; the first stage where differences in ethnicity force people to breed the ‘Us and Them’ thought line.

Symbolization Stage

The genocide ideology that was characteristic among the ‘interahamwe’ militia prior to the Rwandan genocide, is the same ideology that habours the minds of the ‘janjaweed’ militia- the faction supported by Sudan’s government responsible for burning down entire Darfur’s villages and IDP camps.

They are ruthless, cold hearted and insensitive brainwashed ‘devils on horseback’- just like their ‘janjaweed’ name suggests. This is the Symbolization stage of genocide; the second stage where people are categorized by names that identify and emphasize their classification.

Dehumanization Stage

The leadership style of a state leader shows significantly on either a people’s motivation to appreciate their differences as they thrive towards achieving development or the opposite- to dehumanize one group of people by calling them names and likening them to animals, insects or trees of no value.

Just like it was in prior to 1994 in Rwanda, under the leadership of Juvenile Habyarimana, the media was the most influential tool that spread hate propaganda, the same is true with Darfur, where, Omar al- Bashir practically controls the Sudan’s media. Intentionally, coverage of the Darfur region is blocked and foreign media and aid workers cannot access the region.

Any journalists found with video or picture coverage of the actual event of killings is executed, if lucky, their evidence is destroyed while their lives are spared to tell of what they cannot prove.

This is the Dehumanization stage; the third stage of genocide where hate propaganda is spread.

Organisation Stage

The connection between the animosity and coldness towards the victims in Darfur extends beyond the Arab world.

It embraces, for example, all those European and western leaders who bend their consciences to accommodate Arab power.

Their state interests in oil, money and strategic territories are the reasons for the double standards so well played by these superpowers.

They cunningly scheme around with their lip service as they offer friendship in terms of aid money, which is used by dictator regimes to fuel murderous incitement and buy weapons of destruction while at the same time they fail to take serious measures against the culprits of war crimes.

When Omar al- Bashir was indicted for the genocide in Darfur, he wasn’t arrested. Instead, the oil rich Arab states rushed to his side in support while the West and Europe gave numerous excuses as to why they could not intervene.

This is the Organisation stage; the fourth stage of genocide planning and financing.

Polarisation Stage

With organisation, a cause is furthered with a ‘core team’, in this case- the genocide extremists. They further division and enforce polarization.

They prevent social interaction or intermarriages between groups of people. Leaders of the oppressed group are silenced and made incapable of decision making.

Like it was in 1994, Hutu extremists sparked off the genocide by bombing down the plane carrying former president Habyarimana and blamed it on the liberation fighters of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF). The same is true in Darfur, where the uprising non-Arab rebel groups are blamed by the government as the reason for the suffering of the Darfur people.

Every time the rebels resist the government, a village is burnt down. This is the Polarisation stage; the fifth stage of genocide.  

Preparation Stage

A group is strategically separated in a region just like it is in Darfur. Confined in small villages and concentration camps, Darfurians are separated and confined.

They are cut off from communication, water and starved to death. This is the Preparation stage; the sixth stage of genocide. 

Extermination Stage

At the prime, when a group is weakened, any form of resilience is reciprocated by the elimination of entire villages that are surrounded, burnt down, people shot dead irrespective of their age.

This is what is legally called ‘genocide.’ The regime government armed groups form a coalition with militias, in Sudan’s case the ‘janjaweed’ to exterminate the Darfurians. This is the extermination stage; the seventh stage of genocide that the Darfur is going through.

At this stage international intervention can easily stop the genocide.

Unlike Rwanda’s UNNAMIR intervention under Operation Torquoise- the UN peacekeeping force which was a failure because it was compromised, Dafur’s source of hope is UNAMID which is a 20,000 AU-UN peacekeeping force, this time determined to succeed due to the integration of the African Union (AU) and Rwanda’s RDF (Rwanda Defence Force) forces who are using past genocide experience on ground.

They are to ensure that the Darfur crisis ends with no surprises like that of the exclusively French Operation Torquoise who instead of creating peace facilitated the 1994 Rwanda genocide.

Denial Stage

Rwanda is still undergoing the denial stage of the genocide. This is the final stage after the killings stop and genocide deniers try to cover up any evidence. However, some are arrested and tried by the International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda (ICTR) while others have fled into exile and have acquired impunity.

Unfortunately, for Darfur the genocide is a slow and painful one. The world superpowers have been incapacitated to intervene because greed for power and wealth is priority.

This has compromised innocent lives in exchange for their state interests.  As a result, Omar al- Bashir is still in power and has full support from his Arab allies, who are the sole source of the world’s oil-- the backbone that drives the economies of all developed countries.

The ones who can stop the genocide in Darfur in just a few minutes, but they do not.

If the Darfur situation today is not dealt with urgently, sadly the repercussions will far much surpass that of the Rwandan genocide, this time there will be no excuses because, history is repeating itself and everyone knows it.

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