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Local Perspectives on a Global Responsibility by Adeeb Abdel Rhman Yousif
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Aug 6, 2008 - 2:20:53 PM

Local Perspectives on a Global Responsibility

 

 

 

Adeeb Abdel Rhman Yousif

Human Rights Defender

Email: [email protected]

Date: May 5th 2008

 

The cost of inaction:-

 

       
Adeeb Abdel Rhman Yousif
  
Taking the UN estimate of 300,000 people killed during this conflict, if we divide this figure by the four years that the conflict has been running, we get an average of 60,000 people killed per year; over 5,000 killed per month. People are dying every day in the IDP and refugee camps without being accounted for as a result of lack of services. So, if we remain in this situation for two more years we will find very survivors in Darfur. To me, as a son of the soil, I know that there are some places where killings and human rights violations have taken place but have never been documented.

 

         As I work tirelessly to achieve justice and sustainable peace in Darfur, I would like to point out that the problems in Darfur did not begin yesterday and neither will they end tomorrow. Nor will Darfur problems be solved through trial and error - we have to get to their root causes.

 

Current strategies and policies on the crisis in Darfur are not working. International policy makers and those with the power to act need to re-think their approach and take urgent alternative action. As Albert Einstein once said , "No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it. We have to learn to see the world anew." The strategies advocated here provide a fresh perspective on a long-standing crisis.

 

Global Responsibilities:-

 

Many people around the world look at the conflict in Darfur using the same eyes and from the same point of view as the Government of Sudan (GoS) which is that the conflict is tribal and local. This is a completely erroneous view. What is ongoing in the Darfur region of Sudan is a global conflict. The human rights violations, mass killings, rapes, burning of villages, displacement of people from their homes- turning them into IDPs or refugees – and the destruction of natural resources, including water sources, is not just an African problem, but has global ramifications. The international community must act now to stop these atrocities, not tomorrow, even if it is just from a humanitarian point of view.

His Excellency Kofi Annan, the then UN Secretary General, at a meeting in Geneva addressing the situation in Darfur, said, “one of the failures of the international community in Rwanda was that before we realized what was happening there, almost 800,000 people were killed.”

Yet the situation in Darfur is well known by most of the people in the outside world, and still nothing is being done. Kofi Annan made a historical visit to Abu Shouk IDP Camp in El Fasher, North Darfur in 2004 and said, “This is a serious problem that we have to solve today, not tomorrow.” Former US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, who named the crisis in Darfur genocide, also visited the same camp and town and saw with his own eyes the situation there and the suffering of the internally displaced people. There have been so many UN Security Council resolutions, none of which has ever been fully implemented. Unfortunately nothing has changed to improve the situation since that time; the situation is only going from bad to worse.

A delegation from the UN High Commission for Human Rights has visited Darfur as well as other human rights organizations and so many reports have been written about the situation in the region. Unfortunately no action has been taken to halt the violence. This has given the GoS many chances to continue with impunity their disregard for the rights of all Sudanese citizens and their support of violence and killing. It will be a historical failure for the international community to see all these tragedies taking place in front of their eyes, standing by and watching without taking concrete, deliberate and effective action.

 

Regional Responsibilities:-

 

             Unfortunately many African people do not know where Darfur is and what is ongoing there. Yes, they may hear or read about the region from the media but to them, it is something happening “out there”, beyond their concern or reach. Yet, this should be a problem of great concern to them since what is happening in Darfur is part and parcel of the Arab-Islamic project targeting the whole continent and eventually the whole world. If they do not act now, as Africans, to end the crisis and defend their continent, this virus will one day reach them.

IGAD, SADC, EAC, COMESA and other regional organizations in Africa have not put Darfur at the front of their agenda and consideration. African leaders must collectively say, “ Darfur is an African Problem and we want to solve it as Africans.”

 

State Responsibilities:-

 

           Historically, since independence in 1956, the Sudanese government - a minority Arab regime in Khartoum has tried to impose an Arab-Islamic identity on a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, and multi-religious Sudan. This has been resisted by all non-Arab Sudanese and the government has responded to this resistance through violence and severe curtailment on individual rights and freedoms. The term “human rights” does not exist in the Sudanese government’s vocabulary. It is therefore challenging and dangerous for anyone wanting to work on the issue of human rights in Sudan. Not only that, but the minority regime has tried to survive in power by creating one war after another in different parts of Sudan. In the south, the war actually preceded independence, having started in August, 1955. It was to go on for the next 49 years, with only a ten-year break between 1972 and 1983, the time when the Addis Ababa accords were still in effect. Millions of people were killed by the government and its Arab militias and also African militias of people like Paulino Matip and Kerubino Kwanyin Bol, as well as by government-induced starvation. Millions more were either internally displaced or became refugees in neighbouring countries while others were resettling in the diaspora. Later, the war in the east of the country, led by the Beja Congress and the Red Sea Lions broke out, a conflict that very few people around the world know about. In this conflict, we lost more people and the conflict is still going on despite the peace agreement brokered by Eritrea. Eventually the war came to Darfur and the genocide and what the UN has called the largest humanitarian disaster in the world where killings go on freely with an estimated over 300,000 killed, 3,000,000 million IDPs, and another 250,000 have fled to Chad as refugees.

The Sudanese military, security forces and government militias specialize in killing their own people. Can we dream and hope that a day will come when this minority realizes its folly and apologize to the majority asking for mercy and forgiveness? Will it be possible for them to say ‘let us live in this country with the power in the hands of the majority, with respect for minorities, democracy, respect for each other, respect for human rights, and peaceful co-existence in a multi-racial, multi-ethnic and multi-religious society with everyone enjoying equally peace and development, or participate in an all-Sudan dialogue to chart out a new course out of the dysfunctional state that has bred conflict since months before independence? Either a true federal system is put in place or else, the country will split into four new independent countries –

Darfur, South Sudan, East Sudan, and North Sudan. This is not an ideal situation in a world where countries are coming together to expand markets. The splitting of Sudan will not necessarily bring about sustainable peace – lessons from the split of Eritrea from Ethiopia are still fresh in our minds. Sudan has a very poor track record in honoring or respecting any protocols, conventions or agreements. From El Bagad agreement which was signed in 641 AD, up to the Asmara agreement which was sign in October 2006. The recent three agreements, the CPA in January 2005, the DPA in May 2006 and the EPA in October2006 are going nowhere, their future will the same as the Addis Ababa agreement which the then Sudanese President Gafar al Numeiri said, “Addis Ababa agreement is neither the Quran nor the Bible,” breaking it in 1983, leading to the resumption of the North-South war.

 

In the coming article:-

 

·        Facts and the current situation on the ground:

·        The way forward: what needs to be done including JUSTICE of the ICC process?

 



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