Stage Nine of Genocide: Extermination

           The ninth stage of genocide according to the Genocide Watch outline is extermination. The definition of this stage as provided by President Gregory Stanton is as follows:

➔ 9. EXTERMINATION begins, and quickly becomes the mass killing legally called “genocide.” It is “extermination” to the killers because they do not believe their victims to be fully human. When it is sponsored by the state, the armed forces often work with militias to do the killing. Sometimes the genocide results in revenge killings by groups against each other, creating the downward whirlpool-like cycle of bilateral genocide (as in Burundi). Acts of genocide demonstrate how dehumanized the victims have become. Already dead bodies are dismembered; rape is used as a tool of war to genetically alter and eradicate the other group. Destruction of cultural and religious property is employed to annihilate the group’s existence from history. The era of “total war” began in World War II. Firebombing did not differentiate civilians from non-combatants. The civil wars that broke out after the end of the Cold War have also not differentiated civilians and combatants. They result in widespread war crimes. Mass rapes of women and girls have become a characteristic of all modern genocides. All men of fighting age are murdered in some genocides. In total genocides all the members of the targeted group are exterminated.

          To further contextualize this stage, extermination, you will read the following excerpt from Combat Genocide recounting the history of Darfur since 2003. The excerpt describes the methods enacted by the government to direct violence as well as the systematic massacres against Africans in Darfur. 

The Conflict in Darfur:

           Darfur is a region of western Sudan. The name Darfur in Arabic means “home of the Fur” the largest tribe residing in the area. A number of other tribes live in Darfur, the largest of which are the Massalit and the Zaghawa. The large majority of tribes in Darfur are African-Muslim, but their traditions differ from Arab-Muslim traditions due to the influence of African history and culture.

           The conflict in the Darfur region has been going on for many years, and experts point to two central causes:

          First, tensions between the center and the periphery exist, because throughout the years of Sudan’s existence, Darfur’s residents have suffered from discrimination, lack of resources, education, health services, etc. There is a large gap between the resources that the government has invested in Darfur and those invested in riverine Sudan.

          Second, In the 1980s conflict arose between nomadic Arab tribes and indigenous African tribes in Darfur. Due to desertification and the subsequent expansion of the desert, the nomadic tribes were forced to enter the farming areas in order to reach pastureland. This caused local conflicts between the farming tribes and the nomadic tribes. The most significant of this conflict was the Fur/Arab war of 1987.

           As the years went on, Darfur’s residents began to criticize the government more vigorously for discrimination. The government was not providing them with resources to meet their basic needs, and not defending them against Arab presence in Darfur, who certainly felt growing pressures because of spreading desertification demanding their own “Dar”.

The uprising in Darfur:

           In the early 2000’s, several groups in Darfur began operating underground organizations. In 2002, an uprising broke out against the Khartoum government where rebels attacked government building, and military and police bases. In response, the Sudanese army began to attack and bomb the rebels’ centers.

           On April 2003, the rebels changed the nature of the conflict with one operation. In just a few hours the rebels attacked the El Fasher Air Force base and destroyed four bombers and their helicopters, killed 75 pilots, and captured 32 prisoners, including the base’s commander.

           At the time of the operation, the Khartoum government was in the process of preparing a peace agreement with the south, due to intense international pressure. The Sudanese rulers understood that they lost south Sudan, and inevitably the region would declare independence. Wary of entering into a new military campaign that could last for years and could end in capitulation to international pressure, and the demand for independence for Darfur, the government decided to take a hard-line approach to suppress the uprising.

 The Extermination:

           Due to the weakness of the military following the attack on El-Fasher and subsequent battles, in addition to the fear of international criticism and pressure, the Khartoum government began to fund, arm, and train the Janjaweed militias from the Arab tribes, mostly from north Darfur. The government, of course, denied its involvement and claimed that the conflict was between local tribes, but in reality, it equipped the militias and reinforced many of their attacks via aerial bombing with Antonov planes.

          By fall 2003, the Janjaweed was well-equipped to defeat the rebel groups and to conduct systematic massacres in Darfur villages. Thousands of villages were destroyed, pillaged, burned to the ground, and residents dislocated and killed amongst the violence. Only the villages of African tribes were bombed and attacked; nearby Arab villages were left unharmed.

          Hundreds of thousands of people were murdered in air bombings and Janjaweed attacks, and millions fled their homes. Consequently, there were also hundreds of thousands of refugees who fled and crossed the border to nearby Chad.

          At the beginning of 2009 the UN estimated that there were 2.7 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Darfur and approximately 270,000 refugees in eastern Chad. The battles between the rebel groups and the Janjaweed spread into Chad, which led to tensions between Chad and Sudan, and an immense struggle for Chad in dealing with the huge number of refugees. In Chad, the United Nations High Commissioner established refugee camps for refugees and other aid organizations.

          In the refugee camps, the Janjaweed used rape as a weapon, capturing, attacking and raping women when they ventured outside refugee camps to collect firewood. Many refugees who fled their homes continued to flee from repeat attacks by the Janjaweed throughout Darfur. Due to the extreme of the isolation of the region and the Khartoum government’s were able to obstruct most humanitarian organizations by denying access to critical areas, but the UN and NGOs still operated.

          In May 2006, the Khartoum government signed a peace agreement In Abuja, Niberia with one of the rebel groups, but the rest of the rebel groups did not accept the agreement, and the conflict continued. In 2007, the conflict remained extremely intense and increasingly chaotic; an additional wave of attacks on villages and refugee camps began, and thousands of women were raped. Sudanese army planes and helicopters, painted white to disguise them as UN or aid organization aircraft, continued to attack villages and refugee camps. There were reports of abandoned villages being taken over and re-settled by Arab populations.

           Since 2007 the number of massacres and killings has decreased, but they continue to this day. In March 2009 Khartoum expelled 13 international aid organizations, representing roughly half the humanitarian capacity in Darfur. A humanitarian disaster was created, and vast numbers died of hunger and disease.

           The genocide in Darfur is still taking place. Although the rate of the massacre has decreased, the killings have yet to end. The refugees have not returned to their homes, the Janjaweed has not put down its weapons, and the perpetrators of the genocide have not been brought to justice. The Sudanese government continues to deny the existence of the genocide and its own connection to the Janjaweed, and still claims that the conflict is one between local tribes with no more than tens of thousands of dead.

           International agencies estimate the number of dead at approximately 500,000 people. The UN estimated that there were 3 million IDP’s in Darfur and Khartoum; approximately 330,000 refugees in eastern Chad; as many as 50,000 in CAR; a smaller number in Egypt, and in some developed countries that have accepted refugees, including Israel.


Last modified: Monday, 2 Mar 2020, 23:14