1. The government of Sudan continues to deny there is a problem. But in the US there is new focus on stopping the genocide in Darfur.
[Click on the image at right to see one small example of satellite pictures that document the destruction of villages.]
2. US Secretary of State Colin Powell will visit Sudan the middle of next week, at the same time that United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan will be in the country.
3. Powell is reportedly poised to take a much stronger stance than Annan, including threatening Sudan with sanctions and with war crimes prosecutions of the leaders of the genocide.
4. The US government position is backed by satellite images showing destruction in Darfur that is targeted only at blacks, and not on Arabs, hard data consistent with "ethnic cleansing" and genocide.
Natsios said the State Department and USAID purchased commercial satellite photos showing 576 villages, including 300 that have "been completely destroyed" and 76 that have been "severely damaged. The rest are fine, and they are all Arab. It's clear that ethnic cleansing is going on here," Natsios said. (Washington Post, subscription required)
5. On Wednesday the US Senate passed an aid measure for Darfur, co-sponsored by Senators DeWine and Durbin. A similar measure had already passed the US House of Representatives.
6. Also on Wednesday, Pierre-Richard Prosper, Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, gave testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives, International Relations Committee, Subcommittee on Africa that included the names of the Janjaweed leaders who the US believes are directly leading the genocide, as well as the following statement: (Full text available from AllAfrica.com)
There is the question of whether this is genocide. We see indicators of genocide, and there is evidence that points in that direction. However, we are not in a position to confirm. To do so, we need Darfur to be opened up.
I have requested a visa to travel to Darfur and personally examine the situation. Despite this request having been submitted weeks ago, it is still pending. In the meantime, we have told the Sudanese that we are appalled by what is happening in Darfur and have indicated that there is evidence of continued Sudanese Government support of militias and knowledge of the abuses.
7. Wednesday, Senators John McCain and Mike DeWine had a very strong co-authored editorial published in the Washington Post.
8. Wednesday, the US Congress' Congressional Black Caucus joined with NGO Africa Action to call for US intervention in Sudan and for labeling the crisis a genocide.
9. Thursday the US Holocaust Museum shut down in order to bring attention to Darfur, as did its sister organization in the UK.
10. On Saturday two US Senators with long concern for Sudan and Darfur, Senators Brownback of Kansas and Wolf of Virginia, arrived in the capital of Sudan and are expected to go to Darfur on Sunday.
11. Saturday leaders of the US and the European Union nations issued a joint statement on Sudan, from their summit in Ireland.
12. Because of the Powell trip, major news organizations can be expected to run stories on Darfur this weekend and next week. Here is a good summary on MSNBC. One of the best editorials is by Nicholas Kristoff in the New York Times today, which starts off:
Dithering as Others Die
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
The New York Times: June 26, 2004
LONG THE SUDAN-CHAD BORDER — The ongoing genocide in Darfur is finally, fortunately, making us uncomfortable. At this rate, with only 250,000 more deaths it will achieve the gravitas of the Laci Peterson case.
Hats off to Colin Powell and Kofi Annan, who are both traveling in the next few days to Darfur. But the world has dithered for months already. Unless those trips signal a new resolve, many of the Darfur children I've been writing about over the last few months will have survived the Janjaweed militia only to die now of hunger or diarrhea.
One of the really impressive things is the non-partisan nature of the growing support for Sudan. Right and left, all colors, all faith communities.
Of course, nothing really matters except progress on the ground. For a feeling of the reality in the field, read Marcus Prior's Darfur aid worker's diary. All our talk is worthless unless action is taken.
Expect the talk to heat up next week, with more leaders speaking up as people of all persuasions grasp the enormity of the tragedy in Darfur. I pray that this leads to decisive action, soon.
[Apologies for not covering Africa, Asia, the UK and Europe in this review, but Daniell is off. If readers will do surveys or send important items, by way of the comments or email, I will be very thankful!]