By declaring the regime in Khartoum innocent of genocide, Canada can continue to do nothing to stop the killing
Article by Hon. David Kilgour, M.P.
November 25, 2005
If the tsunami and earthquake tragedies in Asia brought out the best in both Canadians and our government, the response to the continuing horrors in Sudan's western province of Darfur is evidence of an indifference that suggests the Canadian government has forgotten the important lessons of the Rwandan tragedy.
The recent declaration in Sudan's capital by all three members of the prime minister's task force that the murders in Darfur did not qualify as genocide is only the most recent indication. Ambassador Robert Fowler, the government's issue manager, reportedly downplayed the entire situation by asserting that it is simplistic to blame the Sudanese government for what continues to occur in Darfur. Both messages were presumably intended to convince Canadians that the ongoing crisis is not really as serious as many of us think.
We certainly live in unfortunate times. Two well-researched books were published very recently about this government-created catastrophe, which was escalating even as the books reached bookstores. Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide by Gerard Prunier of the University of Paris, who also wrote about Rwanda's experience in 1994, is clear that the mass killings, gang rapes and forced-starvation deaths of displaced Darfurians -- being "Africans" -- at the hands of "Arab" janjaweed militias, are continuing. Another brutal raid by 400 janjaweed and government of Sudan helicopter gunships on three villages in West Darfur occurred only a few weeks ago.
The Ambiguous Genocide is good at disentangling complex truths from oversimplified and usually partisan fictions. It explains, for example, how, while virtually all six million or so Darfurians are black and Muslim, the nomadic community came to be called "Arabs," while farmers are called "Africans." A preventable famine in 1984, systematic blatant discrimination against Africans by Khartoum officials in favour of Arabs, decades of marginalization of the province -- all had created a time bomb in Darfur by the late 1990s.
The outside world ignored the growing turmoil in the province until late 2003, when the United Nations head of emergency relief, Jan Egeland, declared that the humanitarian situation had become "one of the worst in the world." His UN colleague then in Darfur, Mukesh Kapila, who had observed happenings on the ground in Rwanda earlier, added that the only difference between the two situations was the number of deaths.
In mid-2003, Khartoum unleashed its janjaweed, which played a role strikingly similar to what the Interhamwe did in Rwanda, to crush all "non-Arab" Darfurians with the help of its bombers and gunship helicopters. A common method was to surround a village, rape the women and girls (as young as eight), steal the cattle, burn the homes and shoot anyone who couldn't flee. Prunier: "Small children, being light, were often tossed back in the burning homes."
Julie Flint and Alex de Waal (of Harvard University's Global Equity Initiative), who wrote the second book, Darfur: A Short History of a Long War, have done research, together or separately, on Sudan for fully two decades. They document carefully how successive governments of Sudan began as early as 1985 to deploy Arab militias in the 21-year North-South civil war. The same tactics of terrible destruction have now been applied systematically for more than two years across Darfur.
Short History documents the detailed planning, creation and control of the regime over the various militias. Musa Hilal, head of the janjaweed in Darfur, has made it clear that the goal of his political masters in Khartoum and himself is to "empty (Darfur) of African tribes." With an estimated 400,000 African Darfurians dead of unnatural causes -- probably about half murdered -- since April 2003, it's difficult to see how any impartial body would not find a deliberate violation of the UN convention on genocide.
The UN commission of inquiry, though declining to reach this conclusion, at least had the courage to note that between 700 and 2,000 villages across Darfur were destroyed in a "nightmare of violence," and to find that the widespread and systematic pattern "may amount to crimes against humanity."
Whether war crimes, genocide or crimes against humanity, Khartoum is continuing to use national sovereignty as a shield for mass murder against the African community in its western province. Governments such as Canada's, following the unprincipled lead of others, declare the regime innocent of really heinous acts and can thus continue to do nothing effective to stop the killing. What happened to our federal government's responsibility-to-protect principle when hundreds of thousands of Darfuri villagers desperately need it? Or to our much-cited human-security policy?
Despite some rhetoric critical of U.S. President George W. Bush's Sudan policy coming from Robert Fowler and the two other Canadians temporarily in Khartoum, Canada's own role is little different in substance. The U.S. assistant secretary of state, Robert Zoellick, also in Sudan's capital this month, completely mischaracterized Darfur as a "tribal war."
In reality, of course, it is a government-directed campaign to wipe out the African community in Darfur.
Canada's own policy in Darfur represents no visible Canadian value.
Canada’s Continuing Acquiescence in Genocide
Statement by David Kilgour
Bow Valley Delta Hotel
December 30, 2005
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I’m here to demonstrate solidarity with MLA David Swann, Sudan expert Mel Middleton, Adam Abdulla, Mustafa Youynis and all the Sudanese Canadians and others here to raise awareness about Canada’s continuing acquiescence in what many people label as a genocide.
The mass killings, gang rapes and forced starvation deaths that continue to occur across Darfur are an all all-but-invisible land tsunami, which reached full force across Darfur in April 2003. Similar ones in South Sudan began as early as 1985; the killing, burning and raping methods the Government of Sudan perfected there were simply transferred to Darfur.
Only a week or so ago, the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan condemned a “vicious attack” a day earlier on a village in West Darfur. Twenty citizens, including women and children, were reportedly murdered by several hundred militia. Annan called on the Government of Sudan to bring the latest perpetrators to justice.
All well and good, but the UN’s own Commission of Inquiry has already found that the Government of Sudan’s Janjeweed did the same thing in up to 2,000 other villages across Darfur since 2003. When are the Secretary General and the Security Council going to do something other than issue statements of regret?
The Government of Sudan has long targeted women and children in both South Sudan and Darfur.
I’ve brought some copies of “Children within Darfur’s Holocaust,” which was released just before Christmas by one of the closest observers of events in Sudan, Professor Eric Reeves of Smith College. No one can match Reeves’ attention to detail, scholarship or eloquence, but let me read only the opening two sentences of his study:
“The suffering and destruction of children in Darfur is an obscenity beyond reckoning, beyond redemption, beyond forgiveness. During the course of this genocidal conflict, the number of children who have been killed, raped, wounded, displaced, traumatized, or endured the loss of parents and families is well over one million.”
Responsibility to Protect
Let me close with some thoughts about Canada’s signature doctrine, “Responsibility to Protect,” and some related issues, which both the Chrétien and Martin governments have talked up to virtually anyone who would listen.
Where is the R2P for an approximated 400,000 dead Darurians? Where is the human security for them? Are Africans not subject to UN Security Council protection in such conflicts? When a regional body (here the African Union) is, despite best efforts, unable to stop the carnage, the UN Charter requires the Security Council to act. Some observers say that China and Russia will veto anything. Let’s call their bluff and see if they want to defend publicly the Khartoum regime.
Is it only Europeans who are eligible for humanitarian interventions? Some of the same governments who let the killing and ‘ethnic cleansing’ rapes drag on for 40 months in Bosnia-Herzegovina, with 200,000 dead, claiming it was impossible to stop ‘ancient hatreds,’ are now trivializing Darfur as a ‘tribal conflict.’ The US Deputy Secretary of State, Robert Zoellick, for one, said as much in Sudan earlier this month. He should know better. The cause of the killing, burning and raping in Darfur is undisputedly the Government of Sudan, which wants to empty Darfur of its ‘African’ residents.
In the case of Bosnia, approximately 60 governments, led by the Clinton administration and NATO finally sent approximately 60,000 peacemakers, including about 1,500 Canadian troops, to stop the mayhem a decade ago. Where is the political will in Ottawa, Brussels, Addis or Washington to do intervene in Darfur, with already 400,000 dead?
The book From Peacekeeping to Peacemaking by Professor Nicholas Gammer of B.C.’s Okanagan University College makes some key points. Two only:
Both the Mulroney and Chrétien governments rejected the traditional Canadian practice of non-intervention when a government is systematically violating the security and human rights of its nationals.
Both governments worked to build co-operation among the Commission for Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), NATO and UN and institutionalize multilateral intervention where needed. Both challenged the boundaries of state sovereignty. The new ‘ethic of intervention’ continued after 1993. Where is it now in the face of the continuing Darfurean catastrophe?
Darfur is indeed Rwanda in slower motion. The question is when is the international community going to decide to stop it? Will it take a ‘Hotel Rwanda’ about Darfur to spur us into action?
Where is Paul Martin in all this? His task force on Sudan spokesperson, Robert Fowler, last month pronounced it not a genocide. Earlier, Martin’s government even attempted to have the Bush administration persuade the US District Court of New York to dismiss the court action against Talisman Energy for its alleged atrocities in Sudan. The action by the Presbyterian Church of Sudan and others is proceeding because the judge refused to agree with the point of view of the governments of the US and Canada.
All the evidence indicates that what is happening in Darfur is indeed a genocide. For Canada to continue with its current policy would be to betray not only the R2P, but its own foreign policy and the human rights it purports to protect. A true commitment to R2P means that we should have insisted long ago that Sudan has forfeited the right to decide who protects the people of Darfur.
Hello there, could pls post this articles, David Kilgour, P.C; M.P