Topic: The UN recently authorized a peacekeeping force to Darfur but the Sudanese government, led by President Omar al-Bashir, is not allowing it in. The Arab League and others are bolstering the Sudanese regime, forming a regional political bloc which refuses to admit the UN force.
Question: Should regional solidarity be allowed to trump human rights needs? What could be done to pull away support from the Sudanese regime and enable UN troops to enter?
The Arab League is a weak, incompetent and morally bankrupt organization that doesn't represent the views of the Arab people. This was demonstrated repeatedly but more recently in Israeli’s destruction of Lebanon and in Darfur . You can broadly divide Arab countries into stateless/occupied countries and those run by dictators/absolute monarchs, the latter group having the full support of the United States. The stateless/occupied group such as Lebanon, Palestine and Somalia have enough problems to deal with. The second group (with authoritarian rulers) can't open the door for such "dangerous" ideas like human rights; most of these regimes are reported for major human rights violations on a yearly basis. Besides they can’t take the moral high ground when talking to Sudan, they’re all in it together.
In fairness though, the Arab League is not the only ones to give human rights a back seat. East Asian countries have been criticized for not pointing out the human rights abuses in Burma and the US has always overlooked (and defends) human rights abuses by Israel (the latest being in Lebanon).
The West isn’t entirely honest in its motives, it seem they only act on human rights issues if and when their interest is affected. Next door to Sudan is Uganda were the Acholi people have been facing genocide for the last 10 years from the Lord's Resistance Army on one side and the government’s concentration camps on the other (an issue repeatedly raised by people like Olara Otunnu ) but it seems the Sudanese oil and resource is at least part of the motive to act on Darfur .
The African Union (AU) on the hand played a positive role, I felt optimistic for the future of this organization. It seems Africa has finally recognized that conflicts more than anything else is the cause of the poverty and backwardness in Africa. The organization should continue to point out and intervene in conflicts and human rights abuses quicker. However the deployment of the African troops in Darfur showed the AU’s short comings in the lack of experience and - more importantly - funds.
Early this month I attended a discussion on Darfur in Aljazeera Center for Studies . You could see that many Arabs (and intellectuals at that) are unfortunately in denial and often confuse their suspicion of the United State’s motives with the continuing suffering of the people of Darfur. I was infuriated to hear some talk about useless conspiracy theories without a single condemnation of what the Sudanese government is doing there. At the end of the session I spoke to a man from Darfur who spoke earlier and I asked him if he can give me a prove of the government's support for the Janjaweed . He said that the Arabs (of whom the Janjaweed belong) and the people of Darfur lived along side for centuries and they frequently fought and then reconciled, but now the Darfur people can no longer defend themselves against the Janjaweed only because the government's support for them. I also got a taste of the deep rooted racism in the Sudanese society when I saw the Sudanese (Northerners and Darfurians) referring to each other as "Arabs" and "Zurq" (literally meaning blue in Arabic but used to refer to a black person). The Arabs overwhelmingly supported the government’s refusal of foreign troops while the Darfurians were all for foreign troops.
I feel nothing but contempt for the Sudanese government for its incompetence and racism. How could a government take part in killing and displacing its own people to the extent where the rest of the world has to come in and do its job and how could such a government be allowed to rule over people it’s intent on killing and driving out. I also blame the Sudanese people for being in denial of the genocide in Darfur. A case can be made for people being misinformed but that’s not a good enough excuse when the government is doing this in their name.
Many people don’t know much about the proud history and heritage of the people of Darfur, the fact that it was one of the strongest kingdoms in region for centuries. It’s a disgrace that the world has allowed this genocide and continues. The Acholi people in Uganda are also systematically being rooted out by the government and the rebels, let us not forget them too.
Sep 26, 2006
PostGlobal, Discussion on Darfur
Another question was posted on PostGlobla few days regarding Darfur, here is the question and my rather lengthy response: