Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Darfur, Sudan

I just watched a Frontline documentary on the history of the Darfur crisis. Actually, it was on the broader history of genocide since the last part of the 20th century. Rwanda (500,000-1,000,000 dead), Srebrenica Genocide in Bosnia (8,000 men and boys dead), and now Darfur (200,000 to 700,000 dead, millions forced to refugee camps). After Rwanda, "Never Again" became the slogan promising that the world would never stand by and watch a genocide happen again without stepping in to stop it. Obviously, "Never Again," had no power behind the sentiment as the world has stood by idly and watched atrocity spiral out of control since the problems started in Darfur in 2003.

I didn't know much of the information related in the Frontline documentary, and I found it very compelling, so I want to share it with those that might have been in the dark like I was. Here's what I learned.

2003 was the start of the crisis. The Arab dominated Sudanese government set out to squash a rebellion of non-arab people feeling oppressed by the government and felt that the Darfur region was being completely forgot. The most interesting piece of this pretty complex puzzle is that China came on the Sudanese scene once oil was found there and now has a huge presence and interest there. It is their second largest source of oil, offshore is their first. The Chinese has been the largest supplier of weapons to the Sudanese, although Russia has provided their fair share. Check out this link to learn more about how China is greatly contributing to the crisis in Darfur. The Sudanese government began to arm the Arab militia, the Janjaweed, and give them air support as they pillaged, looted and destroyed villages, murdered and raped the non-Arab inhabitants of the villages. The Janjaweed are nomadic, camel people and the lure of land and pasture for their animals was all they needed to begin this rampage.

2004- 4 UN resolutions, they were not heeded or followed up with any consequences. Every month, 6000 deaths. China vetoed resolutions and had their oil installations on their mind. Russia was being blamed for atrocities in Chechnya, and couldn't speak out against a government squealching a rebellion. The US sent people to the region who came back and said YES, it is genocide. I am not sure why murder and rape has to fall under the heading of genocide for it to be really bad. It is like needing to put a crime under the heading "hate crime" for it to be bad. A crime is a crime. Murder and rape is ALWAYS bad, whether or not it is ethnically motivated.

2005- 7 UN Resolutions- including ones that would put troops on the ground and and arms embargos. The Canadian government proposed a resolution saying that you cannot protect the sovereignty of a government when they are abusing their people. It would give the UN the authority to intervene in order to protect the people within a country. (Let me just interject here what a joke the UN is. A bunch of people standing around bureaucrating and arguing the finer points of nation building and protecting. They have no power, nor would they use it if it were necessary. When you have nations like China involved, the UN will remain a joke.)

2006- 8 UN Resolutions- Resolution #1706 was passed increasing the number of African union troops to be sent to Sudan from 7,000 to 20,000. The Chinese agreed not to veto the resolution as long as a clause was included that the Sudanese government would have to agree to the troop increase. Ha! Why even bother? Of course the government said NO.

In 2006 the Dafur crisis that was not taken care of in 2003 was now also the Chad crisis. The Janjeweed attacked 60 villages in Chad in 1 month alone. The refugee camps in Sudan are surrounded by the Janjeweed and even the humanitarian workers are not being protected.

2007- I won't even give lip service to the UN resolutions. A very smart group of people began to brand the summer olympics in beijing the "Genocide Olympics." They went on every news program and talked to every newspaper, making sure they emphasized the words "Beijing" and "Genocide Olympics." This got more done than has gotten done in the previous 3 years. China is trying to buff up their reputation. This is their coming out party after '89's "Tiananmen Square." Do you know that they don't even acknowledge that the massacre ever even happened. You'd think they would talk about it to their people to help keep them in communist line, but nope. Complete denial. This media coverage forced their hand. On July 31, 2007 the UN (sorry, they are the only ones "officially" involved) resolved to send 26,000 troops to Sudan with the mandate to protect the people. The forces must be African and there is to be no disarmament of the Janjeween.

The closing sentiment of the program was that the UN is not the means to prevent genocide. I agree, but I wish the world would decide what is. I agree that the US shouldn't be the world's "police force" but shouldn't we have some brotherly kindness in our heart to the plight of innocent people. Wouldn't we be up in arms if each girl and woman in the next town from us were brutally raped by 20 men each. If every man was murdered in our town and it was burned to the ground, how would we feel knowing that no one was coming to help us. I can't imagine, but the people in the refugee camps know that kind of hopelessness and fear. More than one person interviewed wanted to die. They didn't even care anymore.

Never Again?

Not until Jesus returns.


Kristen Borland said...

Beyond tragic. There are so many things that I simply do no understand.