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Amnesty International: Sudan in Denial Over Darfur - 2004-09-21


A delegation from Amnesty International has just concluded a week-long visit to Sudan's Darfur region to investigate the ongoing human rights crisis there.

The secretary general of Amnesty International, Irene Khan, told a London news conference Tuesday her trip to war-scarred Darfur revealed a badly wounded land, with a bleak future.

"What we found there was a picture of denial by the government, of distress of the people, and on our side, of disappointment that progress is being made so slowly, too little, too late," she said.

Ms. Khan said security is the main priority for more than one million blacks who have fled their villages to escape attacks by Arab militiamen called Janjaweed who have the backing of Sudan's military.

"People don't feel safe," she added. "Everywhere we went we heard one concern. Insecurity. Men are afraid that they will be killed by the Janjaweed, if they step outside the camps. And women are afraid that they will be raped and attacked if they go out, and clearly there was plenty of evidence to substantiate the women's fears."

Ms. Khan said there are several challenges facing the world community in dealing with the Darfur crisis, high among them is to stop ethnic cleansing there.

"We have seen a pattern of ethnic cleansing, and if that ethnic cleansing is not to be solidified into a change of the demographic pattern in Darfur, then return should be a goal towards which the international community should work," she said. "But return that must be safe and voluntary and that means creating conditions of security."

Amnesty International also recommends that a United Nations Commission of Inquiry investigate killings, rapes and other crimes to determine if acts of genocide have been committed, identify the perpetrators and indicate how they can be held to account.

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