Monday, July 12, 2004

Where's the Arab outrage over Darfur? -- 'Genocide': the new 'terrorism'

Ethnic cleansing continues in the Darfur province of eastern Sudan. In one of the Bush administration's rare good moves, they are actually paying attention to this genocide, rather than playing the ostrich like the Clinton administration did during Rwanda. The New York Times noted that Secretary of State Colin L. Powell on Thursday demanded "dramatic improvements on the ground right now" in the Darfur region, where armed militias have routed more than a million Sudanese from their homes, adding that "Despite the promises that have been made, we have yet to see these dramatic improvements," Mr. Powell told a panel on African policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "Only actions, not words, can win the race against death in Darfur. And we will not rest. We will continue to apply pressure."

Meanwhile, France signaled it would block UN sanctions on the Khartoum regime even if they do nothing to stop the ethnic cleansing. (More on this outrage later this week)

Over at Foreign Dispatches, Abiola raised an interesting question: why are Arab countries silent in the face of the Arab genocide against Darfur's black African population?

Abiola writes No amount of Arab or Muslim hypocrisy would ever justify shameful behavior on our side, and the point here isn't to say "Who are these people to point at us?", but to push the Arab and larger Muslim world to adhere to the same standards of conduct within its boundaries that it demands of outsiders. What would truly be shameful would be to turn our eyes away from the way in which "brother" Muslims mistreat each other for fear of offending their sensibilities, as we would in effect be saying "Well, one can't really expect any better of such people, can one?"

Although Lebanon's Daily Star did call for the Arab League to respond strongly to the Darfur crisis, they seem to be a lone voice in the wilderness. If Arab countries were to come out more strongly against the Sudanese regime's crimes against humanity, it would give them a little more credibility when they scream about Israel's treatment of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories or American conduct in Iraq.

But I guess they wouldn't want to shift attention away from their designated scapegoats.

The annual African Union summit was held last week in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. The organization approved the sending of 300 AU troops to guard the 40 monitors who have so far been unable to start work due to a lack of security. AU Peace and Security Director Sam Ibok said Nigeria and Rwanda were ready to contribute and they were talking to Tanzania and Botswana as well. He appeared confident the Sudanese government would accept the armed force, although there has been no word from Khartoum. The BBC added The AU, which was set up to replace the ineffective Organisation of African Unity, is now apparently making a major effort to be more assertive in how it deals with its members.

Though not everyone is convinced that the current organization is much different from its predecessor. Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo, in Zimbabwe, rounded on the AU for ignoring the crisis in his country. "All they do is back each other up and drink tea together," said the archbishop, who has been very critical of the country's dictator Robert Mugabe.

The African Union summit has dropped a report criticising Zimbabwe's human rights record from its agenda after complaints from Mr Mugabe's government.

Mr Ncube said that Mr Mugabe was planning to use food aid as a political tool to win elections next year.

"It is clear that they want to use starvation as a tool to get people to vote for them," he said.

The Zimbabwe government is predicting bumper harvests this year after three years of food shortages.

And many other African leaders by into Mugabe's 'Blame everything on Tony Blair' rants. BBC Southern Africa correspondent Barnaby Phillips says many African leaders agreed with Mr Mugabe that Zimbabwe's crisis is caused by British interference and historic inequalities in land ownership.

Inequalities which are surely exacerbated by the seizure of productive white-owned lands for disproportionate distribution not to the poor, but cabinet ministers and party loyalists.


Others are more optimistic about the AU's prospects

"There seems to be a new group of African leaders who want to make the African Union credible," Grant Masterson of the Johannesburg-based Electoral Institute of Southern Africa told Inter Press Service.

The AU's 15-member Peace and Security Council says the proposed 15,000-strong peacekeeping force will be deployed to prevent wars, disarm and demobilise fighters, ensure that cease-fires are honored, distribute relief aid and perform other peace-building functions in Africa's hot spots.

AU members have set 2010 as the date for creating the force, which will initially comprise troops from South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Egypt.

It's good to see that the AU is breaking from the OAU's most sacrosanct principle of non-interference in the affairs of member states, even when those member states refused to apply their own laws or voluntarily ratified continental human rights' treaties. Whether or not sufficient resources are made available for such a force remains to be seen.


More attempts to muzzle opposition is yet again marring the political landscape in Rwanda. Human Rights Watch reports that the Rwandan parliament on Wednesday [31 June] asked the government to dissolve the League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (Ligue Rwandaise pour la promotion et la défense des droits de l'homme, or Liprodhor) and four other civil society organizations because they allegedly supported genocidal ideas. The action was recommended by a parliamentary commission that also called for the arrest of leaders of the organizations... Information presented during the parliamentary debate this week included a number of inaccuracies, but Liprodhor had no opportunity to correct errors or to respond to allegations, neither during the time the commission gathered information nor during the debate itself.

As Abiola, at Foreign Dispatches, noted, that in Rwanda "Genocide" is the New "Terrorism". What fighting "terrorism" is to many a repressive Arab state, battling "genocidal ideas" has become for Rwanda's rulers - a useful way to bludgeon dissenting voices into silence with the acquiescence of the outside world.

To that end, Human Rights Watch added that the parliamentary commission interpreted 'genocidal ideas,' prohibited by law in Rwanda, so broadly as to include even dissent from government plans for consolidating land holdings.


At 6:29 PM, Blogger Glenn said...

charles rangel was arrested for protesting outside the sudanese embassy in new york. will his brethren in the democratic party take notice? will john kerry take notice? where the hell does he stand in all this?

At 6:32 PM, Blogger Glenn said...

well, here's a partial answer to the kerry question:

i think it matters much what type of pressure on the sudanese government that kerry is talking about. is he talking about the french kind of pressure, or the real kind of pressure?


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home