Monday, February 12, 2007

Darfur Heroics: Africa Action correctly slams Nastos

By: Africa Action Posted on: 2/12/2007

Africa Action Slams Natsios’ Denial of Genocide in Darfur

Rejection of “Genocide” by Top U.S. Official Contradicts Reality in Darfur; Shift in Language Seeks to Rule Out Necessity for New U.S. Action

Monday, February 12, 2007 (Washington, DC) – Africa Action today harshly criticized U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan Andrew Natsios for his recent claim that the crisis in Darfur no longer constitutes “genocide.” In a presentation at Georgetown University on February 7, Natsios said, “The term genocide is counter to the facts of what is really occurring in Darfur.” Africa Action emphasized today that Natsios’ statement represents a significant shift in U.S. policy on this crisis, and contradicts numerous reports from the region, which confirm that the government-sponsored genocide is continuing in Darfur.

Nii Akuetteh, Executive Director of Africa Action, said today, “Natsios’ declaration that genocide is no longer occurring in Darfur denies the reality on the ground, and conflicts with numerous statements from the White House and State Department over the past two years. This is more than a semantic change. Natsios’ claim represents a calculated attempt to re-characterize the crisis, undermine its urgency, and obviate the need for new U.S. action to address it.”

Africa Action emphasizes that the definition of “genocide” laid out in the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide continues to describe the realities in Darfur. The organization notes that the “intent” of the Sudanese government to destroy, in whole or in part, specific African communities in Darfur is clear from documentary evidence, from the pattern of attacks and from the testimony of witnesses in the region. Furthermore, the five types of violent acts described in the Convention continue to be visited upon the people of Darfur, including widespread killings, the infliction of bodily and mental harm through rape and other crimes, and the deliberate destruction of livelihoods throughout Darfur.

Ann-Louise Colgan, Director of Policy Analysis & Communications at Africa Action, said today, “Reports from the United Nations, the African Union, and human rights groups confirm that the Sudanese government continues its attacks on civilians, and has stepped up its support for Janjaweed militias in Darfur. The genocide is ongoing, and this reality must be confronted, not denied, by the Bush Administration. Natsios’ statement represents a further step backward in the U.S. response to this crisis.”

As Natsios continues to threaten the Sudanese government with a mysterious “Plan B” if it does not cooperate with the U.S. and the international community on Darfur, Africa Action emphasized today that this empty threat is no substitute for a U.S. plan of action to stop the violence and protect civilians in Darfur.

Marie Clarke Brill, Director of Public Education & Mobilization at Africa Action, said today, “Activists across the country are outraged by Natsios’ denial of genocide in Darfur and by the continued absence of a U.S. strategy to address this worsening crisis. Threats of “Plan B” from the Bush Administration have left Khartoum unfazed. The death toll is mounting, and the U.S. must act now to stop the escalating violence by the Sudanese government and to provide protection to civilians and humanitarian operations in Darfur.”

Africa Action notes that almost six months have now elapsed since the passage of Resolution 1706 at the United Nations (UN) Security Council, and that no progress has yet been made towards the deployment of the authorized UN peacekeeping force for Darfur. Later this month, Africa Action will release a new analysis of the failures of the U.S. and the international community to challenge Khartoum’s obstruction and implement Resolution 1706.

Africa Action continues to advocate a new diplomatic offensive from the U.S. to break the current deadlock on Darfur. For more information, see Africa Action’s report “Leveraging New International Action on Darfur”:

For further information and analysis on the Darfur crisis, see


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