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Darfur's new day
by Thanos Kalamidas
2008-07-16 08:52:38
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I’m going to go straight to the point for the ones who argue that the withdrawal of UN troops from Darfur and the prosecution of the Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir for genocide will bring more trouble than good. There is only one thing to say, they have no idea what is really going on in Darfur and, in general, in Sudan.

The civil war in Sudan never stopped and, regarding the refugee camps in Darfur, they just moved inside these camps and behind the barbed wire.  A place theoretically protected from the government and UN peacekeepers has become the terror and hell for thousands. Rape and murder have become an hourly issue, apparently these things happen so often that they are not even an issue any more. The government carries the biggest responsibility, especially Omar al-Bashir who has led the country since 1989’s military coup.

Only since 2003, 250,000 people have died and two million have fled their homes trying to escape the menace of the governmental army and the paramilitary groups created by Bashir and his men. The numbers are unbelievable if we start from 1989 when al-Bashir took over and I have said it before that genocide is not exactly identified by numbers. Al-Bashir’s aim was and is genocide; it doesn’t matter if the numbers are not compatible with the victims of the Holocaust or the Armenians in Turkey. The truth is that genocide has been a matter for years in Sudan and a lot of fingers from different directions have joined to point in al-Bashir’s direction.

The answer of the Sudanese government and president? "Strangely the Darfur crisis, according to the UN, has become the worst humanitarian disaster in the world. The report about the crisis occupies the best part of the influential media by those who have a hidden agenda." Why do I constantly have the feeling that those dictators all around the world use exactly the same excuses? Why do I have the idea that another criminal, the little Hitler of Zimbabwe, uses exactly the same excuses and why do I have the feeling that Mugabe is going to follow the road al-Bashir just opened?

The role of the peacekeepers in Darfur was mainly to support the government to keep some kind of order - something impossible while al-Bashir’s paramilitary groups are in control inside and outside the camps and while there are clearance attacks from the fully controlled army. The act of prosecuting the president has changed dramatically, now the nations have to be actively involved and bring an end to this dictator, they have to help in the arrest and lead him to the international court which means that the min responsible for the crisis in the Darfur is going to be out of the way.

The argument that things are going to get worse for the next few months is that things are so bad that they cannot get any worse; when a twelve-year-old doesn’t know whether they will be dead or alive, raped or orphan the next day, then there is no worse - this is the bottom line and the only solution is the active involvement of the international community. An international community that somehow feels that by sending a number of peacekeepers has fulfilled all obligations.

Three years ago, Human Rights Watch described the Sudanese government as pursuing a policy of ethnic cleansing said to be "strategic and well-planned". "Khartoum has relied on the civilian administration, the Sudanese military and Janjaweed militias to implement a counter-insurgency policy that deliberately and systematically targeted civilians in violation of international law," it said. These allegations were renewed earlier in 2008, when the government was accused of aerial bombardment and ground attacks that drove thousands from their homes. Human rights organizations accuse President al-Bashir of overseeing these atrocities - allegations that have now resulted in the current indictment.

What remains to see is al-Bashir’s arrest and hoping as I said before the other menace of Africa, Robert Mugabe to follow.

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Emanuel Paparella2008-07-16 10:47:38
"For too long, the people of Darfur have suffered at the hands of a government that is complicit in the bombing, murder, and rape of innocent civilians. My administration has called these actions by their rightful name: genocide. The world has a responsibility to help put an end to it..."

Had those words been proffered by anybody else other than George Bush they would probably have been acceptable to many on the extreme left of the political spectrum; to which one can only reply too bad. That is like ignoring a letter because delivered by a postman not to one's liking. How about mustering a sense of fairness that forgets the animosity toward the messanger and pays attention to the message which stands on its own merits?

Emanuel Paparella2008-07-16 11:48:01
"I call on President Bashir to stop his obstruction, and to allow the peacekeepers in, and to end the campaign of violence that continues to target innocent men, women and children. And I promise this to the people of Darfur: The United States will not avert our eyes from a crisis that challenges the conscience of the world."

Here too, where shall we focus, on the message or on the messanger?

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