Friday, April 8

We Can Save Darfur

While we're figuring out who we are we still have a moral obligation to find a way to help people who are starving and who are being tortured and murdered.

Although the UN has a world food program, recent scandals should make us look carefully at that organization and possibly re-think our role with it.

It would seem that the quickest and most effective thing to do (short of invading Darfur and taking over the government) is an arms embargo and/or sanctions. The effectiveness of those measures is historically questionable and with Russia, China, Pakistan and Arabian governments supporting the Arab regime, it seems as though sanctions and embargos would simply be empty gestures.

There are two measures that Sen. Brownback and Sen. Corzine suggest to begin: urge Secretary of State Rice to travel to Darfur and to support the Darfur Accountability Act:

Approximately one year ago, many of us in the United States began to learn of the atrocities being committed in the Darfur region of Sudan. In June of 2004, the U.S. Congress labeled these acts genocide, international observers began investigating, and aid agencies began received more funds for their relief efforts. Many thought that would be the end of the crisis.

Sadly this was not the case. In January of this year the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur completed their mandate. In their report to the Secretary General, they found that ". . .the impact of the attacks on civilians shows that the use of military force was manifestly disproportionate to any threat posed by the rebels," and were "particularly alarmed that attacks on villages, killing of civilians, rape, pillaging and forced displacement have continued during the course of the Commission’s mandate." While they have yet to find sufficient evidence to use the legal term "genocide" in describing the violence, they concluded "international offences such as the crimes against humanity and war crimes that have been committed in Darfur may be no less serious and heinous than genocide."

How many times have we heard "never again" — in reference to the Holocaust, the Khmer Rouge, Rwanda? Well over 300,000 people are believed to have died as a result of the warfare. Millions have been displaced from their homes, and now face disease, lack of basic necessities, and often the pain and stigma of sexual abuse. And yet even in this late day we are not powerless to act, to help a desperate people avoid further atrocities and the suffering of refugee life.

On March 2nd, Senator John Corzine of New Jersey introduced the Darfur Accountability Act of 2005 to the Senate. This bill would reinforce the American position that genocide is being committed; further, it would seek passage in the United Nations Security Council of measures that would, among other provisions:

Place targeted sanctions on the Government of Sudan and key individuals;
Create a "no-fly zone" over Darfur;
Try suspected perpetrators of crimes against humanity through an international tribunal;
Expand the African Union peacekeeping forces.

We, individual members of the United Religions Initiative (URI), ask that you contact your Senators today and ask them to support swift passage of the Darfur Accountability Act and to support holding trials for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court. We also suggest that your interfaith organizations and faith groups sign on to the Darfur Unity Statement (www.savedarfur.org), as we have asked the URI Global Council to consider at the next opportunity. Finally, we ask that you support the work of the many aid groups working throughout Sudan, and that you pass this letter on to your organizations’ membership, your friends, and colleagues.

On behalf of the Darfur Action Group,

Stephen A. Fuqua
Editor, InterfaithNews.Net


PS. Further background information and letter-writing suggestions are available at this site online.

3 comments:

American Pundit said...

Interesting. So who provides the air power to enforce a no-fly zone? Us? Are African Union troops up to keeping the peace? Do we really want more troops from Angola and Congo in Sudan? Who's going to lead them? Who's in charge of the diplomatic side? You can't have sanctions and threats of military action without a diplomatic purpose. What's the end-game? Regime change? Disbanding and disarming the militias?

It's all well and good to say there's genocide going on, but what solution is the proposed action supposed to achieve, and who is taking the lead on achieving it?

If Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti, Iraq, and Kosovo taught us anything, it's that sanctions and force alone will not bring peace. There must be an integrated diplomatic process that brings the interested parties together to resolve their differences. Otherwise, you end up with "peacekeeping" troops in open-ended operations all over the world without actually resolving the issues that led to atrocities in the first place.

Stephen A. Fuqua said...

Thank you for posting the letter to interfaith leaders here.

"American Pundit" brings up good and important points. The first questions are truly difficult - but I would rather see us struggle with these questions as we attempt to stop the violence and help refugees return than sit back and do nothing (the tack taken until the past few weeks).

The Darfur Accountability Act includes provisions to hold those responsible for genocide accountable; it includes provisions for safeguarding the populace (without which the aid agencies are saying that they cannot effectively serve); it includes encouragement of peace talks negotiated by relatively-local diplomats (African Union).

Diplomacy has been tried, and yet the "attacks on villages, killing of civilians, rape, pillaging and forced displacement have continued." At some point -- and I believe we've reached that point -- the international community must make broader efforts to uphold international law and fundamental human rights. This is not advocacy for the overthrow of the Sudanese government, but it is the best possible advocacy for the fundamental rights of literally millions of civilians from Western Sudan.

Now, if we can create safe conditions for the refugees to return and begin rebuilding their lives, what next? It is absolutely essential that the international community be engaged in a careful dialogue within itself (in general) and with the government and people of Sudan. One essential way of supporting future peaceful relations in that nation is to support education initiatives such as the Southern Sudan Education Project (http://homepage.mac.com/globalhealing/SouthernSudanEd./Menu27.html).

Sunnye T said...

Yes, Pundit -- You're absolutely right. There has to be a regime change for any actions, including feeding the people, to make a difference.

It's obvious to me that this is another attempt of the Muslims to take over another part of the world -- and obviously they are Muslim extremists, or they wouldn't be killing off all the natives.

Steven, you are absolutely right, too. Americans have already sent more than $300,000 to Darfur this year to do what you're talking about and we're sending more all the time. That will continue, of course -- we're good at the humanitarian stuff.

But no lasting good can come of any efforts until the Muslim governement is gone and Africans can run Somalia for themselves.

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