Johann Hari: The century's first genocide is nearly over

The militias would love to carry on rampaging in Darfur, but there are no black people left
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Their racist Janjaweed militias would love to carry on rampaging, but the black villages have all been burned down and the women have been raped with "Arab seed" to "destroy their race from within" - what's a poor militiaman to do? The first genocide of the 21st century has proceeded without a hitch, and the genocidaires have won.

Some of the survivors have washed up on Britain's shores. Adam Hussein now lives in Doncaster. One day last year, he was out with his uncle and sister when "suddenly we saw an aeroplane come through the town and start bombing. After a few minutes, we saw the Janjaweed, who attacked my sister and uncle and... they died. I saw them catch other young girls and rape them." Adam was tossed into jail by the Janjaweed as part of their pogrom. He only escaped by luck, and scrambled to catch a boat which ended up in London. (Ah, but no doubt the right-wing press believes he only left Sudan so he could live in luxury on the £38.50 the British Government lavishes on him every week).

The primary responsibility for this genocide lies, of course, with the National Islamic Front government in Khartoum. For decades, they treated Darfur as nothing more than a source of loyal Muslim conscripts to fight in their civil war against Christians in the South. The "Zurga" were good enough to use as cannon fodder - to die in their hundreds of thousands fighting in a futile war - but not good enough to be allowed into government or to have any public funds spent on them. When in 2003 the "Zurga" staged a minor rebellion against decades of being treated like this, Khartoum reacted with staggering ferocity. They unleashed the Janjaweed militias - a fancy term for men on horseback with knives and machine guns - and backed their raids up with helicopter gunships.

As the violence grew more and more wild, the hardliners in Khartoum saw this as an opportunity. Darfur sits on the geographical faultline between Arab Africa and black Africa, and since the 1980s Khartoum's Islamists have longed to "completely Arabize our part of Africa" and drive the "inferior" black population out. This was their chance. They ensured the crushing of a local rebellion slid gradually into genocide.

It was clear very early on that this was a rerun of Rwanda. Romeo Dallaire was the head of the UN peacekeeping force in Rwanda who tried desperately - and in vain - to persuade the world to intervene, only to watch helplessly while hundreds of thousands were systematically murdered. Last year, he called Darfur "Rwanda in slow motion." So where were all those people who watched that genocide on their TV screens and solemnly intoned: "Never again"? They did not come for Adam and his family. Tony Blair had pledged in 2001 that "if Rwanda happened again, we would have a moral responsibility to act." But confronted with precisely that, he offered nothing but a moral fig-leaf: he proposed that an African Union (AU) force should be sent to monitor a ceasefire in Darfur. But the AU did not have the physical capability to pacify Tunbridge Wells, never mind Darfur. They sent just 3000 troops to monitor an area the size of France - and the handful of troops they did send didn't even have a mandate to protect civilians. Darfur expert Gerard Prunier says the AU force consists of "thousands of little black Dallaires, who can only watch while the killing continues. Sending them was the world's way of doing nothing without actually admitting it."

This was illustrated with hellish clarity last week when a refugee camp supposedly guarded by AU troops was entered by Janjaweed militiamen who butchered 37 people without a single shot being fired against them. It was Darfur's mini-Srebrenica, a moment that exposed the futility of the world's interventions so far.

The Bush administration talked tough about Darfur at first, becoming one of the first governments to publicly use the g-word. But at the same time, as the Los Angeles Times has revealed, they were sending jets to Khartoum to fly Sudan's intelligence chief Salan Abdallah Gosh - the man overseeing the massacres - to Washington. He was ushered into secret meetings where he was feted as a "close ally" for sharing some intelligence about al-Qa'ida and moving towards opening Sudan's oil fields to US corporations. Ah well, what's a spot of genocide between friends? The state department has even begun spouting the Sudanese propaganda line that the Janjaweed are "wild out-of-control tribesmen" not under the control of Khartoum. But how many wild out-of-control tribesmen have helicopter gunships bearing the insignia of the Sudanese army?

The list of people who have betrayed the Darfurians continues. China and France both have oil interests in Sudan - so they told Kofi Annan they would veto any attempt by the Security Council even to impose sanctions on Sudan. At the height of the murders in Darfur, the United Nations itself appointed the Sudanese government to a three-year term on the UN Human Rights Commission. The jihadists who claim to be fighting on behalf of Muslims from Palestine to Chechnya to Iraq have said nothing to condemn the mass slaughter of 400,000 innocent Muslims in Darfur. No: they support it, because the Khartoum government imposes sharia law wherever it goes and even invited their hero Osama Bin Laden to make Sudan his home from 1991-6. Major corporations - including Siemens and Alcatel - continue to work and pay taxes in Sudan even though they know the money is being funnelled towards mass murder.

Darfur's holocaust is a bleak demonstration of how little the world's most powerful institutionsare motivated by basic human morality. Confronted with a clear example of the most terrible crime of all, they have conspired to carry on working with the killers as if the genocide is at best a minor inconvenience.

A few weeks ago, it was suggested that we abolish Holocaust Memorial Day. The reasons given - that it 'discriminates' against Muslims - were clearly absurd. But I am beginning to think we should indeed remove it from the calendar. How can we bow our heads and murmur "Never Again" next year when Adam and his family know we don't mean a damn word of it?

j.hari@independent.co.uk

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