Loosely translated as "evil horsemen",
the Janjaweed is an Arab militia that has carried out the
campaign against the people of Darfur. Although it is described
as an Arab militia, the term does not necessarily describe
all Arabs. Not all Arabs in the region are fighting on behalf
of the Janjaweed; some are fighting with the rebels. Likewise,
there are non-Arabs who support the Janjaweed. It has been
said that these forces are government backed, but the government
denies this connection, despite the fact that they clearly
called on Arab tribes who were most likely connected to
the Janjaweed, to assist in the fight against rebels in
2003. Local and central government officials played a key
role in recruiting and organizing militia members, some
of whom were outlaws and convicted felons. Victims have
said that the Janjaweed is acting on behalf of the government,
and many of them do not see the difference between the Janjaweed,
the army, and police.
Defense Force (PDF)
The PDF is the militia of the government.
Victims have described their attackers as Janjaweed, and
as wearing the same uniform, carrying the same weapons,
and having the same deployment of the PDF. Victims have
used the word “Janjaweed” to describe men who
led attacks on villages and killed civilians. These men
were later confirmed as members of the Popular Defense Force,
the militia of the government, demonstrating further the
apparent connection between the government and the Janjaweed.
Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A)
The SLM/A is the largest rebel group
in Darfur. It is mainly composed of Zaghawa, Fur, and Masalit
(who are considered black Africans), as well as some Arab
tribes. Originally called the Darfur Liberation Movement,
the SLM/A called for a united democratic Sudan with a separation
of state and religion. They aim to solve the fundamental
problems of the country and restructure the government on
a basis of equality and decentralization of power. The Movement
has said that it seeks to equally distribute the country's
wealth and political power.
Their cause is directed against the Khartoum
government. It has claimed that post-independence government
has pursued a policy of marginalization, racial discrimination,
exploitation, and divisiveness, and this has disrupted the
peaceful coexistence between African and Arab communities.
The SLM/A is divided into two parts: the
political arm ("movement") and the military arm
("army"). The non-military chair is Abdel Wahid
Mohamed al Nur and the main military leader and Secretary
General is Minnie Arkawi Minawi. Little is known about the
movement's internal structure. It has obtained weapons from
looting government installations such as police stations
and army barracks, and it may have foreign support. There
are certain areas that are said to be under SLM/A control
but this is not known for sure because of the group's operation
as a mobile guerilla force.
and Equality Movement (JEM)
The Justice and Equality Movement is
also a Darfur-based rebel group that emerged in 2001. The
movement formed part of the armed rebellion against the
government-launched attack in early 2003. It is usually
difficult to distinguish the JEM from the SLM/A, but it
has been reported that members of JEM wear yellow turbans.
The SLM/A has a larger military than the JEM, but the JEM
appears to be more political.
JEM aims to show that there is an imbalance
in terms of economic and social development in Darfur and
other regions in the Sudan. Their manifesto, the “Black
Book,” details the way in which the Sudan's post-independence
administrations have been dominated by three tribes from
the Nile valley, north of Khartoum. These tribes have held
at least half of cabinet positions in the government since
1956, including the current president, General Omar Hassan
El-Bashir. According to the Black Book, these three tribes
are completely unrepresentative of the people of the Sudan,
noting that they only represent five percent of the population.
The north of the country is influential in the government
as well as in the military hierarchy. These leaders have
tried to impose a uniform Arab and Islamic culture on the
Sudan. This imposition is meant to appeal to marginalized
Sudanese, and based on this information, the JEM is fighting
against the marginalization and for political change. There
is not very much information available about the size and
location for the JEM, but it is known that most of its members
seem to belong to the Zaghawa tribes. Most JEM activity
has been reported in the northern parts of West Darfur.
Many victims have also alleged that the
Sudanese government is at least partly responsible for the
attacks on Darfurians. The government has admitted to mobilizing
"self-defense militias" in response to the 2003
rebellion, but it denies links to the Janjaweed. The government
has also denied the accusation that it is attempting to
"cleanse" the region of black Africans. Yet it
is difficult to believe this claim when numerous refugees
have stated that after air raids by government aircraft,
the Janjaweed has ridden into the villages, slaughtering
men, raping women, and stealing whatever they could find.
Women reported being kidnapped and held for more than a
week as sex slaves before being released.