Adam Westbrook // ideas on digital storytelling and publishing

A blog worth writing

Posted in Uncategorized by Adam Westbrook on October 23, 2006

Jan Pronk - screenshot

It’s been known for blogs to get you into trouble. There was that office worker who bitched about her colleagues online, all very funny and all, until of course, her boss found out.  And then that air hostess who posted saucy photos of herself aboard planes, and lost her job.

This time it’s happened to Jan Pronk, the UN envoy in Sudan. On his blog, he’s been writing exceptionally detailed accounts of the work of the peacekeeping mission, and the frustrations of trying to get rebel groups and government officials round a table.

In a mass meeting with them [rebel groups]- I counted about three hundred military commanders and political officials – they promised not to attack the Sudanese Armed Forces. They declared that they would defend themselves, if attacked, but promised to stop attacking. I demanded more: stop considering AMIS, the African Union Peace Keeping Force, as you enemy. Guarantee that bandits and rogue commanders no longer harass aid workers and steal their vehicles.

Last week he was frank about the state of the Sudanese army:

The morale in the Government army in North Darfur has gone down. Some generals have been sacked; soldiers have refused to fight. The Government has responded by directing more troops and equipment from elsewhere to the region and by mobilizing Arab militia.

This honesty, it seems, has backfired. He’s been ordered to leave by the Sudanese authorities, and by all accounts will fly out today.

It’s a serious set back to the peacekeeping mission which seems (if Pronk’s accounts are accurate) to be making slow but steady progress in the right direction. Apparently, his blog‘s unpopular with UN officials, who’ve wanted him to stop writing for a long time.

But I hope he doesn’t. What he’s produced is the most detailed eye witness account of poorly covered negotiations that exists. If it suceeds, the deal could become a blueprint for other nations, and writings like Jan Pronk’s will be vital to understanding it. 

It’s not the fault of Pronk or his blog that this has happened. It’s yet more evidence of the Sudanese military’s power within the country and their willingness to silence opposition.

And meanwhile, reporters still in the country bring back more grim news.


3 Responses

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  1. Emmanuel.K.Bensah said, on October 24, 2006 at 9:32 am

    thanks for this post! how did you stumble on this information? Perhaps it’s time–maybe there already is one–to start meticulously tracing blogs of prominent people…whadja think?

  2. Adam said, on October 24, 2006 at 12:13 pm

    Hey Emmanuel, great idea…I think we’d be surprised at how many prominent people keep blogs…but having said that I still think the blogs of average joes like us are more interesting! :p

    His blog was in the news yesterday for getting him kicked out of Sudan..I think it was on BBC News Online…not sure how we’d find the blogs of other people..!

  3. Pronk stays! « Adam Meets World said, on October 28, 2006 at 1:55 pm

    […] Brief bit of good news off the back of my previous post. Jan Pronk, the UN’s representative in Sudan has been allowed to stay in Sudan…at least for a little while longer. […]

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