Sudan’s Final Solution

Sudan’s Final Solution

Published: June 19, 2004
The New York Times

LONG THE SUDAN-CHAD BORDER — In my last column, I wrote about
Magboula Muhammad Khattar, a 24-year-old woman whose world began to
collapse in March, when the Janjaweed Arab militia burned her village
and slaughtered her parents.

Similar atrocities were happening all over Darfur, in western Sudan,
leaving 1.2 million people homeless. Refugees tell consistent tales of
murder, pillage and rape against the Zaghawa, Fur and Masalit tribes
by the Arabs driving them away.

As this genocide unfolded, the West largely ignored it. That was not
an option for Ms. Khattar and her husband, Ali Daoud.

The night after the village massacre, survivors slipped out of the
forest to salvage any belongings and bury their dead. They found the
bodies of Ms. Khattar’s mother and father; her father’s corpse had
been thrown in a well to poison the water supply. Ms. Khattar was now
responsible for her 3-year-old sister as well as her own two children.

Then, as they prepared the bodies, one moved. Hussein Bashir Abakr, 19,
had been shot in the neck and mouth and left for dead, but he was still
alive. His parents had both been killed, along with all his siblings
except for one brother, who had been shot in the foot but escaped.

That brother, Nuradin, gave up his duty to bury their parents,
choosing instead to carry Hussein into the forest and to try to
nurse him with traditional medicines. Nuradin’s bullet wound made
every step agonizing, but he was determined to save the only member
of his family left. Over the next 46 nights, Nuradin dragged himself
and his brother toward Chad.

Finally, they staggered over the dry riverbed marking the border,
where I found them. Hussein has lost part of his tongue and many of
his teeth and cannot eat solid food. He is sick and inconsolable;
his wife and baby were carried off by the Janjaweed and haven’t been
seen since. As I interviewed him, he bent over to retch every couple
of minutes, Nuradin still cradling him tenderly.

Ms. Khattar and most of the other villagers decided they could not
make the long trek to Chad. So they inched forward at night to find
refuge on a nearby mountain.

Every other night, she crept down the mountain to fetch water, risking
kidnapping by the Janjaweed. “It was so hard in the mountains,”
Ms. Khattar recalled. “There were snakes and scorpions, and a
constant fear of the Janjaweed.” Six-foot cobras have killed some
of the refugees. To feed her children, Ms. Khattar boiled leaves and
plants normally eaten only by camels. Even so, her mother-in-law died.

Officially, Sudan had agreed to a cease-fire in Darfur. But at the
end of May, a Sudanese military plane spotted the villagers’ hideout,
and soon after, the Janjaweed attacked.

“Ali had told me: `If the Janjaweed attack, don’t try to save me. You
can’t help. Don’t get angry. Just keep the children and run away to
Bahai [in Chad]. Don’t shout or say anything,’ ” Ms. Khattar said. So
she hid in a hollow with the children, peeking out occasionally. She
saw the Janjaweed round up all the villagers, including her husband
and his three young brothers: Moussa, 8, Mochtar, 6, and Muhammad,
4. “Even the boys,” she remembers. “They tied their hands like this”
— she motioned with her arms in front of her — “and then forced
them to lie on the ground.” Then, she says, the males were all shot
to death, while women were taken away to be raped.

There were 45 corpses, all killed because of the color of their skin,
part of an officially sanctioned drive by Sudan’s Arab government to
purge the western Sudanese countryside of black-skinned non-Arabs.

The Sudanese authorities, much like the Turks in 1915 and the Nazis in
the 1930’s, apparently calculated that genocide offered considerable
domestic benefits — like the long-term stability to be achieved by
a “final solution” of conflicts between Arabs and non-Arabs — and
that the world would not really care very much. It looks as if the
Sudanese bet correctly.

Perhaps Americans truly don’t care about the hundreds of thousands of
lives at stake — we have other problems, and Darfur is far away. But
my hunch is that if we could just meet the victims, we would not be
willing to acquiesce in genocide.

After two Janjaweed attacks, Ms. Khattar was left a widow, responsible
for three small, starving children in a land where showing her face
would mean rape or death. I’ll continue her saga in Wednesday’s

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress