Written by Staff Writer
Staff Writer Ahmed Hassan joined CNN in 2017 to report on life in Sudan.
CNN’s Ahmed Hassan: Bloodstains over a memorial for soldiers killed in Darfur.
A prayer is going on in Sudan’s crowded mosques. It is a break of the day, and men and women are switching chairs to kneel, face to the floor, for a cleansing ritual.
“Ojalureh,” they say out in the open, using a word meaning “blood” in Arabic. The bones and bones of the deceased are rolled up in rose petals as the dead people are patted down and frisked by Muslim clerics.
Sudan’s army has been active in Darfur since early 2011. It was deployed to counter what Khartoum says was a joint militia rebellion called the Justice and Equality Movement in the west of the country. The JEM denied the accusations.
But Darfur has become far more than a problem for Sudan, it has become a test of a leader and a people who already showed an iron grip over their land and resources.
Over the last 20 years, Sudan has faced what is one of the most violent uprisings of modern times. Nearly a quarter of a million people have been killed in the fighting in Darfur, and Sudan has claimed moral victory for defeating rebels in Darfur.
The reported financial and human cost of the war is just one element of the war, of which the direct costs in lost productivity has been hard to tabulate, but many feel that tens of thousands have been killed in Sudan’s fighting.
Pictures and a video of the government in Darfur preparing to torch houses is stunning. The U.N. has said that 90% of houses were burned, in an attack that targeted villagers that had fled. Some 15 villages were burned, and tens of thousands of people have been displaced.
Sudan may have brought down the town of Giumasa, an Arab town that was ruled by the ‘Black Revolutionaries,’ a rebel militia. Some observers say the incident was an attempt to put the rebels on the run. Others believe the government hoped to discredit the group before a United Nations probe.
There are several militias in Sudan. There are rebels, like the Janjaweed, who are accused of the ethnic cleansing that has occurred in Darfur. There are also radical factions that work in collaboration with the government, officials in Khartoum say.
The government in Khartoum calls the rebels Janjaweed, saying they are Arabs carrying out a proxy war against the government of Sudan. The rebels have denied the accusations, and instead say the government is also guilty of atrocities.
The fighting in Darfur may have ended some years ago, but the massacre in Giumasa shows that the risk of the first-order and extra-judicial killings is as great as ever.