Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Black Death

The Times interviews a former member of the janjaweed milita from Sudan.

Dily, a Sudanese Arab, recounts how for three years he and his fellow Janjawid charged the farming villages of Darfur on their camels and horses, raking the huts with gunfire and shouting: “Kill the slaves. Kill the slaves.”

He reckons he attacked about 30 villages in all, and cannot count the people he shot. The villages were invariably destroyed, he says. The homes were burnt to the ground and the men, women and children killed — sometimes with the help of government airstrikes. If there were survivors “they would be left there . . . They couldn’t get help. Sometimes they made it to camps but mostly they died of thirst or starvation”.
While Newsnight reported that:
we have a world exclusive interview with a former member of the Janjaweed who was involved in raids that massacred thousands of civilians.

He claims he was acting on orders from the Sudanese Government.
The Times also reports from Darfur on the state of the African Union peacekeeping force:
“They are seen as Keystone cops, nothing more than a token force designed to show Africa is taking the crisis seriously when everyone knows it is not. It is disgraceful to think people’s lives depend on such a force,” an aid worker recently told The Times.

Senior officers say they have orders to report violations, not to intervene. “If there is fighting going on, we could get harmed . . . That is against the mandate,” Major Namara Gabriel, a Ugandan, declared.
Last year, Thabo Mbeki spoke to the National Assembly of Sudan:
...our shared colonial past left both of us with a common and terrible legacy of countries deeply divided on the basis of race, colour, culture and religion.
As of yesterday, Sudan has a Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The protracted and destructive war in the South has come to an end, never to return. It is also our firm view that that Peace Agreement and the new Sudan that will be born as a result of its implementation, provide a firm basis for the solution of other conflicts in Sudan, including the conflict in Darfur.

Today, I visited El Fasher in the Darfur region and have witnessed the challenges facing the government and people of Sudan in the area. I am confident that working together with the AU the leadership of this country will fully resolve the situation.
While George Galloway offers his analysis:
it is right that the remit of the African Union peacekeepers has been extended to the end of the year.

It provides a space to negotiate a peace, just as a peace was negotiated over the conflict in the south of Sudan.

But there are pro-imperialist forces that are seeking to prevent such a peace. They are the same forces that undermined the African Union mission. They want peace and the African peacekeepers to fail because they want a Western force in Sudan.

There are two reasons for this. First, it is about rehabilitating the discredited doctrine of humanitarian imperialism. Afghanistan was meant to be the great showcase for that. Look at it now. With every disaster in Afghanistan, Blair in particular is more and more desperate to find another benighted people he can liberate with daisy cutters and cluster bombs.

The second reason is that Sudan has oil reserves which might turn out to be among the largest in the world. It is a vast country.

We are being reminded by various cruise-missile liberals that its borders were created by colonial administrators. The subtext is clear - it is not a legitimate state, it's a state we can feel free to bomb, as Bill Clinton did in 1998, wiping out half the country's pharmaceutical capacity.

In the name of suffering black people, Bush and the neocons have their eyes on Sudan's black gold.
Peter Tatchell in Tribune (not online) has a better analysis:
To date, between 200,000 and 400,000 people in Darfur have been killed and two million others displaced. Three million Darfurians now live a knife-edge existence, with many dependent on international aid for their survival.

The genocide in Darfur is not separate from the many other conflicts and brutalities in Sudan. It is one aspect of Khartoum’s generalised oppression of all Sudanese people.

Sudan is ruled by a harsh Islamist dictatorship. Human rights abuses are widespread. This is the elephant in the room that most people ignore when they discuss Darfur.

The mass murder of black Africans in Darfur is directly related to the fact that the government of Sudan is an Arab-dominated Islamist dictatorship.
The Darfur killing fields are a litmus test of the UN’s willingness to enforce international law and challenge murderous regimes. So far, the UN has failed the test. It has allowed the killing to continue. The signal to tyrants everywhere is that they can get away with mass murder. On this form, there will be many more Darfurs in the future.
Calling for UN action to save lives in Darfur isn’t neo-imperialism, as some on the left allege. It is international solidarity to secure justice - the liberation of the oppressed - in the same tradition as the global movements against apartheid South Africa. Doing nothing, which is what sections of left would prefer, is collision with the oppressors in Khartoum. How can it be right for the supposedly ‘anti-imperialist left’ to leave black Africans to die in their hundreds of thousands?
We know the fascist left is drawn inexorably to support every murderous tyranny in the world, but the left is not the only problem.

While African leaders like Mbeki have just one analytical tool - the lens of post-colonial solidarity - the suffering in Darfur, Zimbabwe and other parts of the continent of Africa will continue.

This is not just a failure of the U.N., it is a failure of African leadership.

Acknowledgement to Harry's Place.

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