Sudan: why “never again” means nothing (I)
Sudan 2006. A government sponsored genocide has left an estimated 500,000 people dead. Two and a half million people have lost their homes, their livlihoods, and are living in camps. A peace-deal between Khartoum and rebels in the south in May was supposed to end all this.
But the government’s launched a new offensive against the people in Darfur this week. Government sponsored soldiers are back, attacking villages, killing people. And the African Union, the force in place to maintain the peace, are leaving at the end of September; the Sudanese leaders have rejected furter intervention from the U.N.
We can’t mince words about how serious this is. Amnesty International joined in with several other major organisations last week to warn of a “human rights crisis” looming in Darfur. The U.S. government has condemned the situation along with the International Rescue Committee.
Many observers have said that the Sudanese government, after killing half a million Darfurian people, are waiting for the African Union to leave – and then moving in for a terrible “final solution.” Sudan is on the brink of genocide once again, and once again the world is looking on and doing nothing.
What’s frustrating is that 12 years ago it was exactly the same in Rwanda. The mass killings between April and July 1994 were, in my opinion, the most shameful moments for the United Nations, the U.S. and U.K. governments and the world media – in all their histories.
While people were being killed in horrific ways in Kigali and beyond, the Security Council was busy discussing what to do about the ‘civil war’ in Rwanda. The systematic murders were not discussed in any way until late April 1994, despite repeated reports from the U.N.’s general in Rwanda, Romeo Dallaire.
When the horrific realisation came that genocide had occured under their noses, they watered down statements and resolutions, refusing to use the “g” word for fear of embarassment. All the while, the U.S. and U.K. governments were blocking any resolutions for military intervention to protect civilians – it was too expensive they said.
The U.N. and world leaders have, to some extent, learned their lessons. Clinton apologised to the Rwandan people in 1998, and since, the U.S. and U.K. governments have been more outspoken about Sudan. The U.N. as well fears a repeat and Jan Egeland’s regular criticism of the humanitarian situation in Darfur has kept awareness up.
And yet, here we are again. Genocide all but inevitable. The U.N. has tried to get in, but been pushed aside by President Bashir. The AU, with just 7,000 poorly equipped and under paid soldiers is ready to get out.
And again, the world is about to turn its back and let it happen.
I’m personally critical of the international media for it’s failings in reporting the crisis in Darfur. I’ll write about that soon. Meanwhile, here are some relevant links to the issue: