Sep 5, 2006
Discussion on Darfur at Aljazeera Center for Studies
Darfur is one of the saddest cases of our time, it highlights the failure of the world to protect the basic human rights of the people of western Sudan. But it also shows how incompetent and malicious governments can get, the Sudanese government could protect it’s people and even worse took sides (based on ethnicity). The African Union’s interference was a testament that Africa will be more conscious but it also showed it’s limitations in funds, experience and training. the world has agreed to send a UN force, but the Sudanese government is refusing.
Aljazeera Center for Studies hosted a panel to discuss this issue, the topic was “International Protection Programs in the Absence of a government – Darfur Case”. The panelists were Dr. Ghazi Salahaddin (from the Sudanese government), Dr. Abdulla Al-Ashal, Dr. Ibrahim Al-Jazi and Dr. Ahmed Diyab, the discussion was in Arab and aired on Aljazeera Live.
The discussion centered around the latest security council resolution 1706 and the Sudanese government’s refusal of foreign peacekeeping. After the panel discussion, the public were given the chance to comment or ask questions. Most of the attendees were from northern Sudanese (Arabs) and few from Darfur. Arab Sudanese acknowledged the suffering of the people of Darfur but mostly supported the government in its refusal to accept UN troops. The talked about US conspiracy to control Sudan (and its Oil) but none had condemned the Sudanese government role in misery of the people of Darfur, this could be said for some of those on the panel. On the other hand, Sudanese from Darfur (two spoke) fully supported foreign intervention, and their argument was that there’s no other solution – the Sudanese government was part of the problem.
Dr. Ghazi spoke well but the others either opposed mildly or derailed into conspiracy theories, there was no heated debate – the kind you usually get on Aljazeera.
A man from Darfur spoke eloquently by first referring to a famous battle against the British in the 19th century – and it has entered Sudanese history - were 18,000 Sudanese were killed and he compared it with the 400,000 killed and 2 million refugees in Darfur today. He talked about the burning of 3,000 villages and how his elderly parents have had to flee and can’t go back, he – understandably - supported foreign intervention as the only solution.
I personally feel nothing but contempt for the Sudanese government. How could a government discriminate against its own people, and take sides to the extent where hundreds of thousands of innocent people are killed, thousands of villages burnt and millions become homeless and refugees. How could these people be denied there basic human rights by the same government that was suppose to protect them. How could such a government speak of sovereignty and refuse foreign intervention when it’s part of the problem. How could any government wait so long until the rest of the world has to send troops to do their job. I think the Sudanese government should be held responsible for its actions.
Dr. Mostafa Sawagh, the director of the Center was - as always - patient and skillful in steering the conversation.