Arab militiamen, known as Janjaweed, are said to be responsible for much of the ethnic cleansing and herd raiding in Darfur.
by Dave Kopel
he international gun prohibition lobbies and their United Nations allies insist that there is no personal right of self-defense--that people should be forced to rely exclusively on the government for protection. The prohibitionists also insist that there is no human right for people to possess the means of self-defense, such as firearms.
But what are people supposed to do when the government itself starts killing citizens? The genocide in Darfur, Sudan, is the direct result of the types of gun laws that the United Nations is trying to impose throughout the entire world. Millions of people have already died because of such laws, and millions more will die unless the U.N. is stopped.
Like Iran today and Afghanistan under the Taliban, Sudan is ruled by a totalitarian Islamic government. The current regime, which calls itself the National Islamic Front, took power in a military coup in 1989 and immediately began imposing Islamic law throughout the country and perpetrating genocide.
The first victims were the inhabitants of the Nuba Mountains of central Sudan. According to Gregory Stanton of Genocide Watch, “The Nuba were grouped into ‘Peace Villages,’ where their women were systematically raped by Arab men, their children stolen to serve as slaves and at least 100,000 people ‘disappeared,’ never to be seen again.”
The next targets were the Africans of south Sudan, who are mainly Christians or Animists. The most recent genocide victims are the people of Darfur, a Texas-sized region in western Sudan.
The Darfuris are Muslims, but like the majority of Sudan’s population, they are black Africans, in contrast to the Arabs who control the government.
The foundation of Sudan’s genocide is, as with almost every other genocide in world history, the disarmament of intended victims.
In Sudan, it is virtually impossible for an average citizen to lawfully possess the means for self-defense. According to the national gun control statutes, a gun licensee must be over 30 years of age, must have a specified social and economic status and must be examined physically by a doctor. Women have even more difficulty meeting these requirements because of social and occupational limitations.
There are additional restrictions on the amount of ammunition one may possess, making it nearly impossible for a law-abiding gun owner to achieve proficiency with firearms. A handgun owner, for example, can only purchase 15 rounds of ammunition a year. The penalties for violation of Sudan’s firearms laws are severe and can include capital punishment.
The practical application of the gun laws is different. If you are someone the government wants to slaughter--such as one of the black Africans of central, southern and western Sudan--then you are absolutely forbidden to possess a firearm. A U.S. Department of State document notes: “After President Bashir seized power in 1989, the new government disarmed non-Arab ethnic groups but allowed politically loyal Arab allies to keep their weapons.”
On the other hand, if you’re an Arab who wants to kill blacks, then Sudan’s gun control laws are awfully loose. In Darfur, there has been a long rivalry between camel-riding Arab nomads and black African pastoralists. The Arabs consider blacks to be racially inferior and fit only for slavery. In Darfur Rising, the International Crisis Group explains: “Beginning in the mid-1980s, successive governments in Khartoum inflamed matters by supporting and arming Arab tribes, in part to prevent the southern rebels from gaining a foothold in the region … . Arabs formed militias, burned African villages and killed thousands. Africans in turn formed self-defense groups, members of which eventually became the first Darfur insurgents to appear in 2003.”
The report states that what provoked the black Africans to rise up against the Khartoum tyranny was “the government’s failure to enforce the terms of a tribal peace agreement requiring nomads of Arab background to pay blood money for killing dozens of Zaghawas [one of the African tribes in Darfur], including prominent tribal chiefs.”
Likewise, Peter Verney, of the London-based Sudan Update, writes that the government armed the Arabs “while removing the weapons of the farmers, the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa.”
He points out that the disarmament of the black Africans has been enforced ruthlessly: “Since 2001, Darfur has been governed under central government decree, with special courts to try people suspected of illegal possession or smuggling of weapons … The security forces have misused these powers for arbitrary and indefinite detention.”
While the blacks there are forbidden to possess arms, the Arabs are given arms by the government--five or six guns per person, according to Amnesty International. The Arabs are then formed into terrorist gangs known as Janjaweed (literally, “evil men on horseback” or “devil on a horse”).
You can be confident that when handing out rifles to Arab terrorists, the Sudan government does not follow its law that anyone who wants a gun must undergo a medical examination.
As a result of tyrannical oppression, there are armed rebel groups in the Sudanese genocide regions. That these resistance groups had been able to acquire weapons illegally was a great affront to the United Nations and the gun prohibition lobbies, who denounce any form of gun possession by “non-state actors.” A “non-state actor” is any person or group whose arms possession is not approved by the government. Good examples include the Sudanese who were fighting the genocide in their own country, the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto and the American revolutionaries.
The Sudanese resistance movements, although able to acquire some arms for their own operations, did not have the resources to protect the many isolated villages in the vast nation.
So, with black villagers disarmed (thanks to Sudan’s strict gun laws) and Arab gangs well armed (thanks to the government), the stage was set for genocide.
In south Sudan, the genocide program has killed 2.2 million victims and driven 4.5 million from their homes. Those not killed have often been sold into slavery. Rape has been extensively used as an instrument of state terror.
In Darfur, according to Smith College professor Eric Reeves, the leading U.S. scholar on Sudan genocide, the Janjaweed have caused the deaths of up to 450,000 black Sudanese (www.sudanreeves.org). The Janjanweed have also raped untold thousands and have forced over 2 million black Sudanese into refugee camps.
Notably, the majority of villages bombed were villages where there were no armed rebels. Thus, the destruction of the villages should be seen not as an overzealous form of counter-insurgency warfare, but rather as a deliberate attempt to destroy an entire society. The ethnic cleansing of Darfur has been so thorough that, literally, there are no villages left to burn.
The displaced villagers live in squalid refugee camps in Sudan or in neighboring Chad, where mortality rates from disease and malnutrition are very high. The U.N. is, incredibly, pushing for these camps to be turned into “safe areas” under the control of the Sudanese military.
The special representative of the U.N. secretary-general who signed the “safe areas” plan was Jon Pronk, who in 1995 was in charge of the “safe areas” scheme in Bosnia. There, Serbs murdered thousands of Bosnians while Dutch “peacekeepers” stood idle.
The Sudanese victims are generally unarmed. Amnesty International reported the testimony of a villager who complained: “None of us had arms and we were not able to resist the attack.” One under-armed villager lamented: “I tried to take my spear to protect my family, but they threatened me with a gun, so I stopped. The six Arabs then raped my daughter in front of me, my wife and my other children.”
In cases when the villagers were able to resist, the cost to the marauders rose. Human Rights Watch reported that “some of Kudun’s residents mobilized to protect themselves, and fifteen of the attackers were reportedly killed.”
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review asked a U.S. State Department official why there were no reports of the Darfur victims fighting back. “Some do defend themselves,” he explained. But he added that the perpetrators have heli-copters and automatic rifles, whereas the victims have only machetes.
Darfur is one of those places where the government has implemented the Rebecca Peters principle that crime victims should not use arms to protect themselves. The Sudan Organisation Against Torture (a human rights group based in London) reported on March 20 about an incident that took place on March 7:
Two men “in military uniforms attacked four girls from Seraif idp [refugee] camp, Hay AlGeer, West Nyala, Southern Darfur. The girls were attacked whilst collecting firewood outside the camp at 11:30. During the attack, one of the men assaulted one of the girls and attempted to rape her. The armed man touched the girl’s breasts and attempted to forcefully remove her underwear. When she resisted, the man began to beat her. In defence she grabbed a knife that she had been using to cut the firewood and stabbed the attacker in the stomach.
“Following the stabbing, the girls managed to escape and returned to Seraif camp where they reported the incident to police officers inside the camp. The police refused to file the case.”
One of the rapists later died from a knife wound. “Following the news of the death, the officers immediately arrested the four girls inside the camp on suspicion of murder.” They face execution by hanging. The girls are: Amouna Mohamed Ahmed (age 17), Fayza Ismail Abaker (16), Houda Ismail Abdel Rahman (17), and Zahra Adam Abdella (17) (www.sudantribune.com/article_impr.php3?id_article=14627).
Under intense pressure from President Bush, the Khartoum government signed a cease-fire treaty for south Sudan in late 2004. The government has promised that in 2010, the south Sudanese will be able to vote on a referendum for independence. In May of this year, the Khartoum government and the Darfur rebels signed a treaty, the Abuja Accord, which was supposed to stop the Darfur genocide.
But Reeves argues that there is no evidence that the Islamic tyrants intend to stop their destruction of the people of Darfur. To believe that Sudan will obey the treaties it has signed is to ignore the fact that in 2003, Sudan ratified the International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
--and then went right on committing genocide in Darfur. Reeves predicts that hundreds of thousands more Darfuris will die, while the United Nations continues to fail to act in any way that actually protects the victims or hinders the genocidaires.
One reason for U.N. inaction is that the Chinese, Russians and French--each of whom have Security Council veto power--are determined to protect their own lucrative commercial and oil development relations with Sudan’s tyrants.
Because the international community has utterly failed to protect the Darfuris, they have every moral right to protect themselves. The United Nations, however, is hard at work to make sure that genocide victims in Sudan, and anywhere else in Africa, will not be able to resist.
Sudan is covered by a U.N.-backed treaty called “The Nairobi Protocol for the Prevention, Control and Reduction of Small Arms and Light Weapons in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa.” The protocol was signed in 2004 by representatives of Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania.
The protocol requires universal gun registration, complete prohibition of all civilian-owned semi-automatic rifles, and “heavy minimum sentences for … the carrying of unlicensed small arms,” as well as programs to encourage citizens to surrender their guns, widespread searches for firearms, educational programs to discourage gun ownership and other policies to disarm the public.
In other words, the U.N. is successfully pushing for gun control even in East African nations with current genocides: Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia. Several other countries subject to the Nairobi Protocol, such as Rwanda and Uganda, have recent histories of genocide against disarmed victims. Quite plainly, the U.N. believes that even resisting an actual genocide in progress is not a sufficient reason for someone to want to own a gun.
A similar disarmament project is being pushed by the United Nations in the South African Development Community (SADC). Two of the SADC nations--Zimbabwe and Congo--are also the sites of current genocide.
Even more extreme U.N. gun prohibitions--a total ban on firearms imports for civilian use--are being imposed in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Among the ECOWAS states are the Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire) and Guinea. According to Genocide Watch, Ivory Coast has entered the final pre-genocide phase of “preparation.”
In Guinea, the National Alliance for Democracy and Development warns that, “There is a looming Rwanda-type genocide … .”
The gun prohibition lobbies have so thoroughly penetrated the United Nations that at the U.N. anti-gun conference, held last month in New York City, gun prohibition lobby staff actually served as delegates from various governments.
The prohibition lobbies and their U.N. allies will tell you that people never need guns for protection--not for protection from rapists, and not for protection from genocidaires. Governments and the United Nations will protect everyone--they promise.
The tragedy of disarmed victims in Sudan, and all over Africa, shows the deadly falseness of the prohibitionist promise. For decades, genocidal tyrants have slaughtered millions of Africans while the rest of the world has stood idle. Now, the United Nations has become objectively complicit in genocide, by trying to ensure that never again will anyone targeted for genocide be able to use a firearm to save himself or his family.