Darfur: Mass Bloodshed May Not Be Genocide

Despite the violence, Sudan crisis may not fit legal definition
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted May 4, 2009 7:38 AM CDT
Darfur: Mass Bloodshed May Not Be Genocide
Activists call for President Obama's attention in saving victims of genocide in Darfur as they rally in Lafayette Park across from the White House in Washington, Sunday, April 19, 2009.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Hundreds of thousands of people have died or been displaced in the years-long conflict in Darfur, which presidents Bush and Obama have both called a genocide. But while nobody denies the seriousness of the violence, organizations from Doctors Without Borders to the International Criminal Court say that the Sudanese government's actions don't constitute a true genocide. For them, using that word to describe Darfur is setting a hazardous precedent, writes Edmund Sanders in the Los Angeles Times.

Legally, genocide is an attempt to wipe out a racial or ethnic group, and Darfur partially fits that definition: Most of the victims have been from black African tribes that the militia leaders have called "slaves" or "subhuman." But the ICC and other groups question whether the government has true genocidal intent, and even in Darfur there is no agreement. "This isn't like the Nazis or Bosnia or Rwanda," said one man who lost 100 members of his extended family. "It's more about power, money, and land." (More genocide stories.)

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