Justice and Equality Movement Sudan (JEM)
JEM Response to AU Peace and Security Council Communiqué (PSC) at its 400th Meeting, 17 October 2013.
By Abdullahi Osman El-Tom
24/10/2013: The 400th Communiqué of the AUPSC comes in 12 points, ten of them (nrs. 2-11) dealing with substantive issues. Remarkably, seven of the ten points focus on UNAMID forces, six about their safety and one about their freedom of movement. A mere three points make explicit or implicit reference to the very people UNAMID forces are intended to protect.
Given the continuous criminal attacks against UNAMID soldiers, many of them fatal; the pre-occupation with the safety of UNAMID personnel is understandable. However, the inability of the PSC to learn from this depressing situation is perplexing. To begin with, the attacks reflect the spectacular lack of peace in Darfur, a reality that shakes the mandate of UNAMID itself as “peacekeepers”.
The attacks also expose the flaw of the so-called Doha Darfur Peace Document (DDPD) which has failed to deliver peace for the peacekeepers themselves, let alone the very people whose protection justifies the ill-fated mandate. Strangely enough, this is the “peace” that the PSC wants others to join.
The Communiqué reports a loss of 13 UNAMID Peacekeepers in 2013 alone in addition to many abductions and injuries. Members of the PCS know very well that this tragic loss of life is caused by government-backed militias; the same government that addressed the meeting. Surprisingly, the Communiqué steers free of any condemnation of the GoS, which is sponsoring the killing. Of course it would be disingenuous to say the AU and its PSC do not know they are being attacked by government sponsored forces, for if that were really their belief, it would be ludicrous to count on them for the protection of Darfur civilians, the prime reason for their presence in the region. The real picture looks as if AU is there to guard the interests of the GoS even if that means the continuous loss of its soldiers.
In Point 9, the Communiqué concludes that JEM and other movements have “consistently rejected peace efforts…”. This statement by the PSC is disingenuous. To begin with, the AU has no peace agreement it can invite others to join and the evidence of there being no peace is clear in the lack of security for UNAMID personnel. The AU must stop fooling itself and cease pretending it has a peace deal to keep. Blaming JEM and others for the lack of progress is not good enough and does not help. Far from it, history testifies to the contribution of JEM to all previous attempts at reaching a dignified peace deal.
JEM takes credit for opening the Doha negotiations in the first place. Much more, it did not leave the platform without first offering what could have made the agreement comprehensive, inclusive and workable. The offer was rejected by the same AU which is now unable to confront its failings.
On numerous occasions, JEM has told the AU that its Doha agreement is flawed and will not deliver peace to the region. Suffice to say that since its launch, the security situation has deteriorated tremendously. Violence that was confined to rural areas has now moved to cities and state capitals; the number of IDPs has continued to increase and the UNAMID personnel themselves have now fallen victim to the increase in violence.
In point 9, the Communiqué states that the holdout movements have “rejected peace efforts with total disregard for the fate of the people [they] claim to be representing”. Well, the PSC is free to cast doubt on our commitment to the people we represent, but the most pertinent question is “whom is the AU representing?” Overlooking the parties that attended the Ababa meeting (AU Personnel, GoS and International reps), the jamboree has been an embarrassment for the African continent. While its PSC team focused on the protection of the peacekeepers and not on the innocent civilians who are equally worthy of protection, the rest of the participants went for a pathetic objective: discussion of en masse withdrawal of African countries from the ICC! In so doing, the AU lives up to its name as a club for dictators. Instead of focusing on fostering democracy and human rights in Africa, our esteemed institution busies itself with ensuring that our Dictators can go on killing their citizens, plundering their freedom and violating their human rights without punishment. We understand the AU is a brainchild of Dictator Gadhafi and that its personnel have been selected on the ratification of their governments, most of whom have no interest in genuine democracy. Despite this, we expect the AU to play a positive role in the promotion of democracy, a foolish expectation as the last meeting has shown.
It is difficult for us to understand the AU argument that the ICC has been targeting African presidents. To our surprise, the AU has never asked itself why African presidents and not European, Asian or others are subjects of ICC investigation. The answer of course is too painful to contemplate; mainly African presidents, or rather dictators are the ones who are notoriously committing the heinous crimes that come under the mandate of the ICC.
As matter of fact, of the eight African cases currently being handled by the ICC, four of them were referred to the ICC by African governments in alliance with the AU. Two other cases were referred to the ICC by the UNSC, the same body the PSC wants to engage with to sanction the non-signatory movements of the Doha fiasco. Well, we commend the AU for not calling African governments to withdraw en masse from the UNSC as well! It is not the Africans as such who bemoan the alleged excessive ICC focus on Africa; rather it is their dictators in the guise of Al-Bashir and others who feel threatened by the Hague Court, the ICC. The AU should take note of this divergent attitude towards the ICC in Africa. Failing that, the AU runs the risk of being thrown out together with the genocidaires of Africa.
In Point 10 of its Communiqué, the PSC states its intention to refer the non-signatories of the DDPD to the UNSC. The reason is our alleged refusal to join the AU “peace process”, which AU itself knows does not exist. As a matter of fact, the AU acknowledges the lack of involvement of the Movements in the killings and abduction of UNAMID forces and equally does not implicate these organisations in the massacres of civilians. However, at the time of circulating its unfortunate Communiqué, Sudanese activists and opposition political parties are petitioning the ICC to intervene afresh against Al-Bashir and his government. In the Sudanese September 2013 uprising, government security forces and its party militias killed over 260 protestors, arrested and tortured thousands, many of whom are still under detention in unknown locations. If the AUPSC is serious about the preservation of human rights, it should refer the GoS to the UNSC, not the freedom fighters. To date, the AU and its PCS have failed even to condemn the government of Sudan for its atrocities against peaceful demonstrators who are exercising their constitutionally legitimate rights. To the embarrassment of the AU, voices of condemnation came from further afield like the USA, EU, UN and numerous human rights organisations. We Africans have the right to demand our esteemed institution, the AU to either grow up and stop propping up dictators or, if not, to simply disband.
Finally, the Communiqué refers to us as JEM-Gibriel. This is callous, paternalistic and unprofessional. In as much as we address the AU by its chosen name and there are many alternatives to that in the streets of Africa, we demand the courtesy of being treated similarly and addressed by the term JEM, full stop.
Abdullahi Osman El-Tom
Secretary for Strategic Planning, JEM
Can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org