The Bush administration's strong backing for the Sudan peace process has given hope for an end to the oppression and enslavement of marginalized groups in Sudan. But peace is possible only if the United States government effectively monitors the actions of the Sudanese government and punishes violations of the various agreements it has signed.
Unfortunately, the U.S.-established monitoring team has failed to adequately report on the Sudanese government's violations, including the enslavement of women and children, of the 11-month-old cease-fire. In so doing, the U.S. administration has chosen a path of silence, while encouraging the State Department to create a conducive negotiating atmosphere to appease Khartoum. If the State Department continues in this way, the U.S. could make its biggest diplomatic mistake since turning a blind eye to Yasser Arafat's terrorist aims toward Israel in the Oslo peace process.
According to Sudan expert Dr. Eric Reeves, the government of Sudan has seriously hindered, threatened and obstructed the efforts and operations of the U.S.-led Civilian Protection Monitoring Team (CPMT) in Sudan, and thereby violated the U.S.-brokered agreement of March 2002. This agreement obligates the government of Sudan to assist and facilitate investigative visits, grant unhindered flight access and ensure that there is no obstacle to these visits taking place. In January of this year, however, Sudan's military officers went so far as to threaten the CPMT that their aircraft would be "shot down" if it flew over a garrison.
From March 7 to April 11, 2003, the United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) reported that the government of Sudan denied all flight access to the U.S.-led CPMT. This further delayed the CPMT investigation on reported massacres in several southern villages in the Mabaan area of the Eastern Upper Nile, from the time the reports were originally hand delivered to Ambassador Michael Ranneberger at the State Department on February 5, 2003. The delay of the State Department and the Sudanese government's obstruction resulted in a three-month degradation of evidence, due to exposure to extreme heat and animal life in the region.
Another violation of the peace agreement surfaced on May 22, 2003, when forces aligned with the government of Sudan ambushed Longochuk and 9 surrounding villages. According to villagers present at the time of the onslaught, a force of local Arab militia, led by a government military officer, attacked unarmed civilians, killing 59 and abducting 16. Dennis Bennett of Servant's Heart, the primary relief organization on the ground, interviewed a number of village sources who claim that CPMT head, General Charles Baumann, is responsible for the deaths of at least two seriously injured children because he refused to help the 11 most critical of the 33 villagers wounded in the attack he was investigating.
Soon after the attack, one of Bennett's sources, Sudan Peoples Liberation Army Commander Daniel Kot, told Bennett that he begged Baumann to evacuate the victims to a hospital or at least contact the Red Cross so they could be rushed to Kenya for medical aid. Kot claims Baumann refused any help saying, "It is none of our affair." As a result, a severely wounded 3-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy riddled with gun shot wounds died within four days of General Baumann's refusal to give Good Samaritan aid.
Despite the continued reporting of atrocities during the cease-fire and the motive to destroy villages in the path of oil expansion in the Eastern Upper Nile, the U.S.-led Civilian Protection Monitoring Team neglected to interview key witnesses who were readily available. One CPMT report failed to acknowledge that workers from a subsidiary of China National Petroleum were drilling for oil near the area the attack took place. All of the reports failed to draw a parallel between the intentional destruction of traditional village land in the Western Upper Nile -- as the oil companies advanced -- and the same actions by the government of Sudan and oil companies -- as they pushed into the Eastern Upper Nile. The reports, rather, attribute the cause of violence to disputes over cattle grazing rights, even though the geography and evidence indicate that the Sudanese government increasingly targets villages in the Eastern Upper Nile region for their oil and importance in a "divide and conquer" strategy.
In a recent e-mail, David Sims, the Deputy Director of Public Affairs for the State Department, was questioned about the reported massacres, the acts of violence and the problems that were not made public by the CPMT. In a blanket response, Sims wrote: "The Civilian Protection Monitoring Team is helping the peace process by highlighting atrocities, keeping both sides accountable to their word and recommending concrete actions both sides can take to avoid further attacks."
Could this be déjà vu?
For the ten years of the Oslo peace process, Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority repeatedly violated the agreement he signed with Rabin in the Rose Garden at the White House. Arafat transformed his limited police force, which was supposed to prevent terrorism and maintain order, into a fully equipped army. Rather than fight terrorism, Arafat and the PA gave extremists a safe haven by issuing fake sentences and putting terrorists in prisons with revolving doors.