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HUMANITARIANS, WHERE ARE YOU?

20 October, 2005

While the grim death toll in Darfur is now estimated at approximately 1,400 human beings per day, YES 1,400 PER DAY with more than 1 million people left homeless, the silence of the usually strident humanitarian academicians and human rights activists is deafening.
Why do we hear no protests and demonstrations about Government-backed Arab militiamen terrorizing Blacks in southern Sudan in the most gruesome human tragedy since the holocaust? Why no calls for sanctions against companies providing equipment to the perpetrators, no demands for divestment? Why has the UN not demanded that the International Court of Justice rule urgently on the criminal responsibility for the genocide before it is too late?

There is no excuse for ignorance. And this is not a recent problem. The horrific war in Sudan is now in its twentieth year. Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports, categorically state, "The government of Sudan is responsible for "ethnic cleansing" and crimes against humanity in Darfur".

 

Extensive details are available on the internet at http://www.hrw.org/reports/2004/sudan0504/  and
http://www.hrw.org/reports/2004/sudan0504/5.htm#_Toc71531690 .

The United States leads in urging immediate UN action and is disappointed by lack of support from other countries. The US house and the senate have passed bipartisan resolutions declaring the situation "genocide". Strangely the UN refuses to call this catastrophe by its proper name, possibly because if it admitted that genocide is taking place, it would be obliged by its 1948 Resolution 260 to take action. After years of pussyfooting around, UN Secretary General Kofi Anan visited the area on July 1.. According to a Washington Post report, when he arrived at one of the best-maintained refugee camps, 3,000 people who had been living there the day before were gone. They had been dumped, at the overcrowded Abu Shouk camp, where 40,000 people live in a stretch of open desert.

Later when Anan visited another camp, he met with a group of women from whom he heard directly about their unimaginable suffering. One midwife told him she knew of 20 rape victims at the camp. Annan reportedly said, touching his heart. "As long as you are in this camp we are going to do  everything we can to protect you." The women clapped and called out in Arabic, "God willing." But no positive results are yet visible. UN, please wake up. We are still suffering the deaths of 1,400 human beings per day

There is obviously something awry in the UN system that needs comprehensive overhaul. For example, in April 2003 the UN Commission on Human Rights considered a draft resolution merely expressing criticism of the situation in the Sudan. Although the resolution did not call for any action, it was rejected on a roll-call vote. A draft resolution on the situation in Zimbabwe went unconsidered after a no-action motion was approved on a roll-call vote. Yet this same UN, was able to muster an overwhelming majority in record time, to condemn the construction by Israel of a barrier intended to prevent indiscriminate killings of civilians by terrorists.

Plainly, there is a lack of consistency with the UN's high ideals, especially when one considers that, believe it or not, Sudan was elected to a three-year term on the UN Human Rights Commission alongside another human rights hero, Zimbabwe.

According to HRW, the Sudanese government and its Janjaweed allies, supported by the Sudanese air force, have killed thousands, raped women, carried out mass executions and destroyed villages. They have driven more than one million civilians, into camps and settlements, hostage to Janjaweed abuses. More than 110,000 others have fled to neighbouring Chad. HRW reports mass killings in attacks in which government soldiers and Janjaweed played an equal role. Rape appears to be a feature of most attacks  HRW received reports of rape in roughly half the villages it confirmed were burned.

The militias' destruction of villages has left more than 2 million people in need of food. Andrew S. Natsios, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development estimated that 300,000 to 1 million people may
soon perish.

Two highly relevant aspects which are rarely reported in the media, must be taken into account, viz Islam and Christianity and the role of oil.

The Persecution Project Foundation (PPF) sees the conflict as part of an Islamic war on the Christian minority. Christians in Sudan make up one of the fastest growing churches in the world, with over two million evangelical Christians. Sudan is the only Islamic country with millions of  evangelical Christians, and the church is growing about 10% each year.

PPF reports that in 1983 when the Islamic government came to power, it introduced Islamic law and officially declared jihad against the Southern "infidels" costing over two million lives and generating over five million internal refugees. More information about the PPF is available on their  web site at http://www.persecutionproject.org/

The role of oil in the Sudanese debacle is highly significant. Not well known is the fact that the Sudan is one of the oil rich Arab countries. According to a comprehensive HRW report "Sudan, Oil, and Human Rights" (ISBN: 1564322912) published in November 2003, oil development is accompanied by the violent displacement of people from their traditional lands, which sit atop the oil fields. They receive no share of the resulting revenues, which go the Arab elite in the north. Instead whole Communities are killed or maimed, their homes and crops burned and their grains and cattle looted. The gross human rights abuses are marked by two million dead, four million displaced since 1983-and recurring famine and epidemics. As oil revenues are used to obtain weapons and ammunition, which intensify the war, oil now figures as an important obstacle to a lasting peace.

The question again begs to be asked. Why don't we hear from the professors, the Archbishops and the Presbyterian churches who organize petitions against Israel or from St. Jerome Publishing of Manchester,
England which refuses to sell publications to an Israeli University or the Government of Finland which refuses to supply Israel with defensive gas kits to protect its citizens.

Joining the popular Israel-bashing brigade, while ignoring the real blatant, barbarous violations of human rights elsewhere indicates either a serious lack of knowledge of world affairs, or unforgivable insincerity, or both.

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