Smart Library on Globalization
Topics |  Bibliography |  Authors |  Expert Panel |  Help Print PDF Add
Leaders of local Arab militias are responsible for many atrocities in Darfur and have close ties to the Sudanese government. War criminals, like Hamid Dawai, are responsible for brutal rapes, tortures and murders in Darfur.

Hamid Dawai is an emir from the Arab Beni Halba tribe, and is a leader of the Janjaweed in far western Darfur along the border with Chad. He is described by Amnesty International as “the chief of the Arabs,” and is linked to 460 civilian killings.

Dawai's leadership provides an example of how leaders of the Janjaweed work with the Sudanese government to carry out genocide in Darfur through murder, rape and torture.

Militia and Government Cooperation

In July 2003 Dawai is alleged to have met with Musal Hilal (another major leader of Arab militias) and then left the meeting in a helicopter with Ahmad Harun (Darfur Security Desk Minister). From Harun's helicopter, Dawai was able to give the government minister an birds-eye-view of the destruction. Dawai's forces had destroyed numerous villages and turned the area of West Darfur near the Chad border into a no-man's land.

There was no way that the government official Harun could not know about Dawai's activities.

Joint Training Camp

Dawai was also involved in a training camp in Al Geneina, headquarters for joint operations between the Janjaweed and government forces. The camp at Al Geneina houses government heavy military equipment including tanks and helicopters. The joint military and militia training is no secret and is perfectly consistent with al-Bashir's warning in January 2003 that “we will use the army, the police, the mujahideen, the horsemen to get rid of the rebellion.”

Racism, Rape and Torture

But, were Dawai's attacks against “the rebellion,” or was it something more?

According to eye-witness testimony, Dawai was the leader on an attack on Terbeba, a town of about 500 people before the attack. After the attack, in which numerous people were killed, the Terbeba area was “deserted and uninhabitable, its food stores looted and burned and 90 percent of its grass huts reduced to cinders,” says Human Rights Watch. Clearly, the target of the violence went beyond rebels.

Victims of the attack say that Dawai gave orders to both Janjaweed and military personnel during the attack.


The attack was not a military campaign against rebels. It was an attempt to exterminate a racial group. Witnesses recount hearing the attackers shouting “Kill the Nuba” (“Nuba” is the term used by the Arabs to mean “black slaves”). Survivors from other villages where Dawai lead attacks, tell of hearing the Janjaweed chanting, “Nuba, Nuba, out, out!”

Rape and Torture

The Janjaweed and military did not merely kill black Africans. They used rape and torture as a tools of terror.

One survivor of an attack recounts that “after the rapes, the women [were] told...they should go tell their families that they all have to leave Darfur.” The goal of the rapists was to drive out the black Africans through terrorizing families.

Torture was also a stock-in-trade method of Dawai's. According to one survivor's testimony:

[The attackers] gathered five sheikhs/imams in the village and demanded to know where is Tora Bora. The sheikhs said they don’t know such things. The Janjaweed tied their hands behind their backs, piled straw around them, and poured kerosene on the straw. Hamid Dawai said, “Where is Tora Bora – you are Tora Bora.” Then Dawai lit the straw and burned them all to death.

Bottom Line

Eye-witness testimony of refugees who survived the genocide in Darfur provide a damning picture of Janjaweed leader Hamid Dawai. With government backing, Dawai used racism to motivate the rape, torture and murder of the people of Darfur.

Data and Methods:


Hagan draws from two data sources:

  1. Survey data gathered by the Atrocity Documentation Team commissioned by the U.S. State Department in 2004 from Darfurian refugees in ten camps and nine settlements in eastern Chad from July through August 2004. Researchers gathered information from 1,136 randomly selected refugees using a semi-structured interview protocol.
  2. A survey based on news and NGO reports of deaths in attacks on 101 villages. Andreas Höfer Petersen and Lise-Lotte Tullin, The Scorched Earth of Darfur: Patterns in Death and Destruction Reported by the People of Darfur, January 2001-September 2005, (Copenhagen, Bloodhound).

Funding Source:

? unknown--ask Katie to track down

Full Text Availability:
Text not yet available

Hagan, John. Forthcoming. "The Rolling Genocide." Chapter 6 in [name of book].

© Copyright 2017 CLG Portal. All Rights Reserved. Powered by