Revolutions in Egypt, But Genocide in Darfur
When 2011 began, it appeared to be an auspicious year for the Sudanese people. The South had overwhelmingly voted to secede, the expected violent aftershocks of the referendum hadn’t transpired, and the media was actually paying attention.
But then Tunisia happened. And then Egypt. This inspired protests in neighboring countries. And Sudan lost its coverage.
But, it wasn’t the revolutions that pushed Sudan out of the spotlight.
It was Sudan.
As the referendum received attention, the intense focus on the process came at Darfur’s expense—in Sudan’s western region. Beginning in 2003, when rebel groups clashed with the government’s military forces, Darfur and its people fell into despair. There was a genocide, in which experts calculate left 300,000 dead and 3 million displaced. Things have not improved much for Darfuris. In the last year, more than 100,000 additional people have been displaced throughout Darfur, according to the United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Fighting in December alone had forced 32,000 people from their homes.
Now, malnutrition and disease are taking their toll in the displaced persons camps and violence, rape, and the killing of civilians is on the rise. Just to give an example of the violence, one day in September, in an ethnically Fur village, eighty-six people were injured and fifty-six were murdered—shot at point blank range or dragged to death by automobiles—as the Sudan Human Rights Monitor reported.
Even though peace between the North and South is still tenuous and a number of issues such as wealth sharing and citizenship need to be ironed out, the international community must shift attention back to Darfur.
Enough, a project to end genocide and crimes against humanity, has offered a few first-steps in curtailing the violence and improving conditions for Darfuris. Firstly, high-level political negotiations must begin, but outside of Sudan. Inside the country, there is a lack of neutrality, and many of Darfur’s rebel leaders would not be included, since they are banned from entering the region. There have been guarantees from Khartoum, allowing for temporary entrance, but it’s mere snake oil.
The voices that must be echoed, however, cannot come just from rebel leaders. Darfur’s civil society must also be heard.
Additionally, the international community cannot allow the secession of southern Sudan to overshadow Darfur. It is, instead, as the report, A Roadmap for Peace in Darfur, asserts, “an opportunity for increased transparency and pluralism. Although democratic transformation is in no way a prerequisite for peace in Darfur, it is crucial that the Darfur peace process be incorporated into the broader context of the future of the North.”
But it doesn’t appear as if the international community’s moral authority will be the United States. The House of Representatives’ latest draft for their 2011 spending bill would significantly reduce funding for emergency food aid and refugee assistance to Sudan. The measure is part of a proposed international affairs budget that would be cut by 21 percent, or $11.6 billion, over the President’s request.
Sam Bell, Executive Director of Genocide Intervention Network / Save Darfur Coalition (GIN/SDC), responded:
“These severe cuts in humanitarian aid programs are in direct opposition to the United States’ stated commitment to peace in Darfur and Sudan. The timing could not be worse as violence in Darfur is on the rise and south Sudan stands ready to become the world’s newest independent country in less than five months… The majority of the funding cuts will affect life-saving assistance including food delivery to nearly 3 million Darfuris who are living in displacement camps, unable to return safely to their homes.”
Mark Hanis, the president of GIN/SDC, weighed in during a teleconference on Tuesday. He was “very concerned” about the new budget and said, “this bill is also cutting funding for genocide prevention from the Conflicts Crisis Fund” and will impede upon the government’s ability “to prevent and stop mass atrocities.”
With multiple initiatives that would mitigate violent conflict atop the chopping block, in the end, someone will look back with remorse.
When I attended the opening of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center on April 19, 2009, President Bill Clinton was the keynote speaker. On that rainy afternoon, the former president reiterated to the crowd what he believed was one of his greatest failures while in office: Not doing enough to stop the genocide in Rwanda.
Darfur isn’t on the threshold of revolutions sparked on the Web, and their Tahrir Square is a less glamorous displaced persons camp, where self-determination is leached from the spirit. And even though humanitarian workers and journalists are being detained, in Africa’s largest country the story of Darfur is only runner-up to the news about the imminent secession. But if we continue to ignore Darfur and cut necessary funds, I expect Barack Obama will snip a museum’s ribbon one day and reiterate Clinton’s self-reproach.
Follow us on twitter@thefastertimes
- 1 Brooklyn Man Now Living Entirely Off Own Beard Garden
- 2 “Cra Cra” Now Official Diagnosis in New DSM (DSM-5)
- 3 OfficeMax Marketing Director Struggling to Make Staplers ‘Sexy’ and ‘Conversational’
- 4 First Openly Straight Figure Skater Comes Forward
- 5 Area Man Tailors Life To Be More Relevant To His Hulu Advertisements
- 6 Fan Banging Furiously on Glass Could Be the Difference in Hockey Playoffs
- 7 Survey: 88% of Eagles Fans Too Drunk To Spell Nnamdi Asomugha Last Season
- 8 Attorney Actually Starting to Believe Own Bullshit
- 9 Homeless Guy Woos Silicon Valley VCs with Low-Tech Crowdfunding Strartup
- 10 Local Mom Won’t Stop Being First Person to Like Every Goddamn Thing Son Posts to Facebook