Darfur and the myths of Janjiweed, rape and genocide (Part-1)

By: Ahmed Alhaj (Site Admin)


When the incidents of armed robbery escalated in Darfur region in 2001, the President of the Republic Field Marshal Omer Al-Bashir issued a decree establishing the mechanism for maintaining the supremacy of law and effecting development in the region.  In this decree, the President of the Republic transferred his constitutional powers, in an unprecedented step, to the then Wali of North Darfur State Gen. Ibrahim Suleiman and Chairman of Darfur Mechanism.  It was the first time the President of the Republic mandated one of his aides with his powers, which are stipulated by the constitution.  The chairman of the Darfur mechanism, started contacts with the arms holders at Jabal Mara and Karnoi areas.  But the armed elements did not honour their promises and began planning for carrying out wide-ranging military activities.  In this climate, the Darfur mechanism called for a comprehensive conference held in Al-Fashir, which recommended that dialogue should be the sole means for solving Darfur issues.  The conference also recommended development plan for the region including Jabal Mara Agricultural Scheme and the Western Salvation Road Project to which the government allocated a sum of 120 billion dinars in the budget of the year 2003.  But the armed movements attacked the engineers working in the road project and seized three vehicles, a matter that led to the stoppage of work in the project.

The Darfur problem is a creation of the Western media, which speaks about myths of Janjiweeds, rape and genocide.  The Western circles are responsible of what is going on in Darfur for financing and supporting the armed groups in the region.

The Sudan News Agency (SUNA) presents this documentary file to the local, regional and international public opinions hoping that it would refute these myths.

Axis (1)

Darfur Crisis… The World Order moves northward


Following the collapse of the former Soviet Union at the beginning of the last decade of the last century and U.S. becoming the only superpower in the world, the new order of the Americanism started to reconsider the situations in the world, specially the Islamic world.  The American intervention started by the Sudan, where attempts were made to isolate the government and to contain it.

US role in internationalization of Darfur Issue:

The American role in the internationalization of Darfur question was very clear.  The US Congress is continuously deliberating Darfur issue.  It has remained continuously focusing on Darfur following discussion of the US budget and its security strategy.

Foreign Presence in Darfur States:

The foreign intervention in Darfur may be traced back to the 1980s.  Deputy Nur-eddin Adam announced over a daily newspaper in February 1988 that “there was a foreign presence in Darfur.  The Libyan-Chadian war had moved to Darfur.”

Start of the Incidents in Darfur:

The start of the incidents in Darfur in 2003 was due to pure local elements represented in the spread of the phenomenon of the armed robbery and the attempt by the state to end the phenomenon.

The local element that contributed greatly to the fanning of sedition was the utilization by a group of politicians to the circumstances brought about by the armed conflict to settle their account with the government.  They gave the problem a political touch and started to frequent the Western capitals, especially London, where they held press conferences considering themselves as representatives of the people of Darfur, while their major goal to was power and wealth. 

To achieve these targets, they utilized the evils of regionalism and racism to hit the peaceful coexistence that had been characterizing the tribes in the region.

Axis (2)

The Janjiweeds

Meaning of the word "Janjiweed"

There are different interpretations for the word "Janjiweed"There are different interpretations for the word "Janjiweed". Some say it was derived from the Arabic phrase "jin ala jawad" or a jinn mounting a horse. Others say it was named after a person named Hamid Janjiwait, who had been practicing armed robbery with his gang in the 1980s.

President Al-Bashir: The Janjineeds are armed robbery gangs that are not affiliated to any particular tribe or ethnicity:

President of the Republic Field Marshal Omer Al-Bashir explained in reply to a question on the Janjiweeds that they are unruly armed robbery gangs that do not affiliate to any tribe or ethnicity.

Addressing worshippers at Detroit mosque in U.S. via video conference, President Al-Bashir said the West erroneously portray the Janjiweeds as the Arab tribes in Darfur.

Chairman of the Parliamentary Group of the National Congress Dr. Ghazi Salahuddin pointed out that no one could deny presence of conflicts between tribes. But one should remember that such aggressions were committed by the two sides.

The Western media focused on what it called the Janjiweeds, which is term that has no agreed upon meaning.

The Western media portrays the situation from one side. There is also armed rebel groups that commit aggressions on the citizens.

In a programme over Aljazeera TV Channel entitled "Darfur Arabs and the Myth of Janjiweed" on 4.12.2006, Abdel Wahid Mohamed Nur, the chairman of Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), said Janjiweeds are a group from the nomadic Arab tribes and also from the African tribes. But it is not true that all Janjiweeds are Arabs.

This not true, he said. He added that Janjiweeds were gangs that were not affiliated to any particular tribe.

The advisor of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Dr. Abdul-Rahman Abudom, pointed out that what is called Janjiweeds are not from the Arab of Darfur. He explained that the name Janjiweeds is not a Sudanese. But, it mostly came from West Africa. They are a mixture of Sudanese citizens and nationals of West Africa. Their practices do not like that of Darfur's Arabs in any aspect.

 In implementation of one of the recommendations of the General Conference of the Arab Journalists Union, held in Cairo on October 2-5, 2004, and at the instruction of the Chairman of the Union Ustaz Ibrahim Nafie and Secretary General Ustaz Salah-Eddin Hafiz, an Arab journalist delegation was formed to pay a visit to Sudan to get first hand information on the humanitarian situation in Darfur.

The delegation comprised Ustaz Saif Al-Sharief, the Assistant Secretary General of the Union as chairman of the delegation besides the membership of Ustaz Al-Hashimi Nowaira, the Assistant Secretary General and Ustaz Mohamed Kharaja, member of the Union from Egypt.

The delegation paid a five –day visit to Sudan during the period April 11-15, 2005, of which it spent two whole days in Darfur.

The Secretariat General of Union adopted the report in its meeting on April 17,2005 and decided its publication.

The report stated that the delegation was received in Al-Fashir, capital of North Darfur State by Deputy Wali (Governor) and Minister of Education in North Darfur State Ibrahim Abdalla Mohamed, a Mushim from Zaghawa tribe.

He strongly denied existence of any sort of genocide, ethnic cleansing or rape crimes.

He pointed that the society of Darfur rejects such practices as it is a Muslim society and it is a cohesive community.

He said the government did not support the Janjiweeds.

The report also stated that in Neyala, capital of South Darfur State, the delegation was received by the state's Wali, Engineer Al-Haj Attal-Manan on Wednesday, 12-1-2005. The report cited that the delegation found much logic in the talk of Engineer Attal-Manan, especially on rape issue. He cited that all of us are Muslims and such things could not appen in one fabric. It is difficult to differentiate between Arabs and Africans and there is inter-marriage.

Replying to a question on the Janjiweed, he said they are armed robbers that loot the properties of the government before that of the citizens.

AXIS (3)

The Western Media and the Janjiweeds Myth

The Media and its tools:

The flow of information through the international newspapers, news agencies and TV and radio channels pertinent to Darfur problem surpassed any flow on any other issue. It is comparable only to that of September 11 incidents and Iraq. Newspapers like the Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian and Telegraph and other Western newspapers and news agencies have made Darfur as a daily topic.         

          This media coverage had been characterized by the following: 

  • Citing some terminologies and hammering on them continuously to consolidate the information, such as "the Janjiweed," "Arab militias supported by the government," "the black African Muslims" and the "systematic rape."

  • Citing continuously the same background information which speaks of exaggerated numbers of casualties and IDPs.

  • Using the headline in a way that makes the positive elements look as negative ones.

  • Using the worse quotes by the UN officials and politicians or relief workers.

The Objectives of the Hostile Media Campaign:

  • Giving the necessary pretext to the anti-Sudan circles to increase pressures on Sudan or for over military intervention.

  • Preparing the international public opinion for the worst scenarios for what can happen to Sudan, including military intervention, economic embargo and other sorts of sanctions.

  • Diverting the attention from the American and British failures in Iraq and the abuses that happened in Abu Garib Prison, which was unprecedented in the modern history of the world.

  • Presenting the Arabs as aggressors through repeating the term of the "Arab Militias" and inciting the public opinion against them in preparations for any scenarios against any Arab country in the future.

  • The most important and strategic objective is that related to the war on resources, top of them oil.

The Stances of the States:

On the European level, the stance of France represents the most moderate one among all the European countries. Its special relations with Chad and Sudan helped in this so that the situation would not be aggravated between the two countries.

The stances of China and Pakistan have remained distinguished concerning their solid stance alongside the objectivity.

Their presence in the Security Council has led to the required balance in this connection.

On the Arab level, Egypt has adopted advanced stances rejecting imposition of any sanctions on Sudan.

The Saudi Arabian stance has also come frank rejecting any threats to Sudan, affirming its appreciation to the efforts being exerted by Sudan government for solving Darfur crisis.

The Justifications:

The Darfur crisis was not the first one in history of the world and not the worst the world is witnessing now. Then what made it to reach this advanced stage on the media and political levels?

Firstly: On the International Level:

The two superpowers, America and Britain, had been subjected to a great deal of criticism, even from inside the two countries for the weak justifications for their occupation of Iraq, a matter that undermined their credibility before their peoples and the peoples of the world in general and the international organizations.

Moreover, the Abu Garib Prison phenomenon caused a great damage to the American Administration, policy and the American people and other Western nations.

The photos of Abu Garib Prison, which entered every house, presented US as a country that does not mean what it says.

US entered Iraq under the pretext of existence of weapons of mass destructions and this was proved to be false.

Then US changed this pretext to the relationship between the Iraqi regime with Al-Qada network, which was also turned to be false.

Then the US resorted to the pretext of freeing the Iraqi people from fear and prisons and later it was proved that America was the worst in this connection.

This was coupled with what has been taking place in Guantanamo base and in US prisons in Afghanistan.

At that time, the US election campaign was entering the critical days and the Republicans had to divert the attention of the world from the scenarios of September 11 incidents, Iraq and Afghanistan.

At the same time, the Democrats had been working to utilize all this to prevent Republicans from reaching the White House for another term.

The Republican American Administration selected Darfur issue to divert the attention from all these.

But the other party and in order to counter this adopted a more fierce attitude towards Darfur issue. This was reflected by the position adopted the Democratic nominee Carey.

The most dangerous message disseminated by the Western media was that it portrayed the conflict as an aggression by the Arab Muslims against the non-Arab Muslims.

The objective was to incite non-Arab Muslims in the whole world against the Arabs as well as splitting the Muslim people into Arab and non-Arab

The German Role:

Germany represented an important axis in moral and material support to the rebels. Germany's role had been most worse in the European Group. Despite the clear denial by the German Foreign Minister in a press conference he held in Khartoum during his visit to Sudan of supporting the arms holders, and his justifications that the rebels were given political asylum according to the German laws; but many indicators affirmed the suspicious Germany's role in this connection.

Germany did not show any interest with the African crisis.  But it had remained showing special concern with Darfur since a long time ago.  The reasons behind this concern remained unexplained.  But it showed a German drive to find a foothold in the region.

Germany hosted all prominent rebel figures and became a centre for their movement, and activities.  Some observers believe that Germany host the greatest number of Darfur citizens compared to other European countries.

The Jewish Role

In a report by the Jewish Telegraphic agency dated 8-7-2004, under the title "Sudan has become a Jewish Topic," the Jewish writer Peter Igros wrote that the Jewish groups had doubled their efforts in the recent weeks to stop “killing of tens of thousands black Muslims in Sudan.”

The writer said the Jewish council in Washington had hosted in the same week a campaign against the killings in Sudan and on July 24 the Holocaust Museum in U.S. had suspended all its activities for half an hour to draw the attention to what had been taking place in Sudan. 

The writer further pointed out that the Jewish alliance for warding off disasters that comprised 45 Jewish groups from all political and religious spectrum had organized a fund raising campaign, named the Jewish alliance fund for Darfur relief.

When the foreign media gave a prominent coverage to Darfur crisis, it did so not because of pure professional motives, but it was a premeditated act masterminded by foreign circles that had special agenda that they wanted to serve through the issue of Darfur.

The Anti-Sudan Campaign in the Western Media:

The adviser of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs Dr. Abdel-Rahman Abudoum explained the hostile media campaign that targets Sudan through utilization of Darfur incidents as premeditated campaign intended to prepare for a following act.

He cited as an example that the Western media portrayed the Janjweeds as Arabs supported by the government to kill the African despite our knowledge with the culture of the hambata (armed robbers), that all the Janjweeds are not Arabs and that they are  just a myth.

Dr. Abudoum added that a survey slowed that Darfur problem was cited more than one hundred times daily in the international media and this was only in the big media institutions.

Dr. Abudoum called on the media men and researchers to confront the Western media campaign by utilizing all available forums, acknowledging that there was a great inefficiency in the fields of news and the humanitarian information.

Motives of the American and Western Campaign concerning Janjweeds lie:

The announced motives by the American administration and the Western countries related to the humanitarian considerations.

These motives are difficult to be understood by the sound mind. Were those humanitarian motives when Israelis practiced their job of destruction and demolishing of homes on the heads of their inhabitants, till the number of those killed in one month in Lebanon reached some one thousand?

 It was difficult to believe in the American and Western humanitarian considerations, while the Israeli crime had been committed in day light and broadcast over the TV channels and that Israel had attacked a sovereign country, Lebanon.

There is a hidden war between U.S. and France over the areas of influence in Africa. U.S. had one some grounds at areas which had been under the influence of France.

On the other hand, US works to reduce its imports from the middle East's oil by the 2025 by 75%.

This target can not be achieved except through resorting to oil resources in Central Asia and Africa.

Thirdly, this wide area is rich with untapped resources. A number of press reports spoke about existence of minerals and resources needed by the West.

One can say that the motives of intervention are many including material, religious and moral ones that that cope with the Western values and standards.

The International Role in Darfur Crisis:

In his book issued in 2000 on US foreign policy, Dr. Henry Kissinger cited in connection of Africa that that what is known about the norms of the state that the national spirit precedes the geographical borders of  states and that is what is happening in all continents of the world except Africa, where the geographical borders preceded the nationalistic spirit.

Considering this reality and coupled with weak development and infrastructures and the international economic recession which led to shrinkage of the international aid to the poor countries, all these can be the root causes of such conflicts.

All continents of the world are witnessing conflicts between government and rebels. In Europe, we find that the United Kingdom has still been endeavoring for solving the Irish problem.

And in Africa and despite the particularity we cited earlier, most of the states are affected by conflicts.

Sudan despite its sensitive geopolitical position and wide area and the effects of the 50-year long war, represents one of the most cohesive African countries.

All these are coupled with the collapse of the system of the balance of power and the emergence of the unpopular  system in the world besides  the submission of the international organizations to the will of the one superpower. This besides the animosity showed by the West to the Arabs following the September 11 incidents as well as the policies by the current government of adoption of the Islamic values and the good customs, self-reliance, diplomatic achievements towards Security Council Resolutions 1041, 1051 and 1070 besides Sudan's maintenance of all its international and regional relations as well as its adoption to the strategy of peace.

All these factors made Sudan a target to a number of international powers.

Regarding the crisis of Darfur, the American administration worked to incite the international community against the Sudan, using its media and diplomatic might for the purpose. It embarked on encouraging and politically supporting the rebels. Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell used to make statements during the sessions of negotiations in Abuja that included negative signals that made the rebels to adopt intransigent stances that led to the collapse of the negotiations more than once.

The shift of the American policy to practicing pressures on Sudan through Darfur crisis was believed to be linked to two types of objectives one is current and   the second is at the long-run.

The long term objectives were part of the policies of dismantling and reformation within the strategy of New Middle East  as well as economic interests linked to oil.

As to the short –term objectives, they were connected with the election campaign. This theory is supported by the relative ease in the crisis that followed the end of the elections and announcement of winning of Bush to new presidential term.

As to the British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose stances cope with the trends of the American foreign policies, stated that he would continue pressures on the government of Khartoum to stop the killings in Darfur. The commander of the British army Mic Jackson also said that his country was ready to send 5,000 soldiers to Darfur. Blair visited Sudan and the visit was expected to make a positive breakthrough in Darfur crisis, especially the British people have great knowledge about the Sudan as the Sudan had been a British colony for more then 60 years.

As to the European Union, it was not different from the contradictions that characterized dealings by most of the Western power with the crisis.

It had threatened to impose sanctions on Sudan for alleged negligence by the Sudanese authorities to the critical humanitarian situation in the region and violence against the civilians.

Then the file was transferred to the Security Council.

The issuance of the Security Council Resolution No. 1556 in July 2004 constituted the official declaration of the internationalization of Darfur issue, despite the cooperation showed by the government with the African Union concerning Darfur issue to keep it within its regional context.

In this review of the crisis we have pointed out that the conflict in Darfur was not a new but it is a repeated phenomenon, but it has been exaggerated by the media.

Sudanow is the longest serving English speaking magazine in the Sudan. It is chartarized by its high quality professional journalism, focusing on political, social, economic, cultural and sport developments in the Sudan. Sudanow provides in depth analysis of these developments by academia, highly ...


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