Two decades of civil war between the Sudanese Government and the Rebels of the South were hopefully coming to an end according to the latest political changes that happen in the Sudan. BBC NEWS reports on the 10th of July that “Ex-rebel leader John Garang has been sworn in as Sudan's vice-president. Southern Sudan was to be given some autonomy and former rebels of the south were due to take up cabinet seats. The US has welcomed the changes, but urged the government to resolve the separate conflict in the Darfur region. One-and-a-half million people died in the conflict between the mainly Muslim north and the mainly Christian and non Muslim south, which lasted 21 years, in fact the conflict started even before Sudan took its independence from the Anglo Egyptian rule but that is another story which we are not going to discuss in this article. The new constitution is a key aspect of a peace deal agreed in January. As well as being named national vice-president, Mr Garang was to head the autonomous administration in southern Sudan for six years, ahead of a referendum on possible secession. Under the new constitution, Sudan's current ruling party will have 52% of the government and parliament, and Mr Garang's Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) 28%. Northern and southern opposition parties will take the remaining 20%. Sudan's new oil wealth will be shared between north and south, and Islamic Sharia law will not be applied in the south. ”. (Story from BBC NEWS: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/africa/4666701.stm)
But Mr Garang died three weeks after he became vice-president. His death sparked riots that left 130 dead. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who owned the helicopter Mr Garang was travelling in, said on Friday that the cause was not clear, although all the aspects show that there is no figure – at least in Sudan – behind the accident. An independent investigation into the cause of the crash is to be launched.
Something that might strike the eye of a reader who is unfamiliar with the situation in the Sudan is that “The US has welcomed the changes, but urged the government to resolve the separate conflict in the Darfur region.”
This is though what anyone should expect since the US has been funding actions that several NGO’s did concerning the issue of Darfur. As the State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said while briefing the press: “ …the United States has been a long and consistent leader in trying to bring peace and reconciliation to Sudan. Over the past three years, the United States has committed over $1.6 billion to Sudan for humanitarian assistance, for conflict resolution in Darfur and care for the people there, reconstruction and development and support for implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.” (U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING FRIDAY, APRIL 8, 2005)
Darfur is situated in the far western parts of Sudan and has a surface area of about 186.000 sq.miles. About 4.7 million people inhabit it. The Darfur region is one of the areas most affected from the civil war. There has been large-scale destruction of villages throughout the three states of Darfur.
For most of the 20 years of ethnic, religious and racial violence in Sudan, in which over one million people have been killed and over one million displaced, the "international human rights community" expressed relatively limited interest in this human tragedy. It was only in 2003, after a new front opened in the western province of Darfur that reports of mass killing got the attention of the human rights community, including the United Nations Human Rights Commission and the NGOs.
United Nations estimates that there are 1,65 million internally displaced persons in Darfur, and more than 200,000 refugees from Darfur in neighboring Chad.
Over twenty international and local NGOs are working in Darfur in the fields of Humanitarian aid and relief. These are the following:
The Disasters Emergency Committee - www.dec.org.uk - is an umbrella group of UK aid organisations who are working to provide shelter, clean water and sanitation as well as food to refugees. The United Nations World Food Programme - www.wfp.org - is seeking $130 million to feed refugees in the area. Medecins Sans Frontieres - www.msf.org - is working to combat malaria and malnutrition in west Darfur. Oxfam - www.oxfam.org.uk - is providing clean water supplies and sanitation to the refugee camps. Islamic Relief - www.islamic-relief.com - has also launched an appeal and food has already been distributed to around 18,000 people. The United Nations Childens Fund, Unicef - www.unicef.org - is seeking to vaccinate children against disease in the refugee camps. It has appealed for $46m. Save the Children - www.savethechildren.org - has already distributed food to 250,000 people in the area. Anti-poverty organisation Care International - www.care.org - is working in Chad to help alleviate conditions for refugees who have crossed the border as well as those in Darfur. Cafod, the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development - www.cafod.org.uk/sudanappeal - is working with partners in Southern Darfur to provide clean water, shelter, supplementary feeding in camps for the displaced. The British Red Cross - www.redcross.org.uk - have launched an appeal for food and blankets for the region. Medair - www.medair.org/en_portal/index.php - is providing treatment kits for malaria, cholera, and dysentery. The UN High Commission for Refugees - www.unhcr.ch/donate/redirect.html - is helping to relocate refugees on the border with Chad. World Vision - www.worldvision.org.uk - has also launched an appeal and is providing shelter material, water containers, purification tablets, mosquito nets, cooking utensils and blankets as well as distribute food.
Christian Aid - www.christianaid.org.uk - is working to provide supplementary food rations for under-fives, educational services, shelter material, mosquito nets, blankets, kitchen utensils, and the distribution of seeds and tools to 500,000 people in southern and western Darfur. Christian charity Tearfund - www.tearfund.org - is working to provide emergency feeding, health and sanitation services to refugees in six camps in Darfur. Concern - http://www.concern.net/ - have launched an aid operation hoping to provide nutrition, sanitation and water supplies to 300,000 people in Western Darfur. The International Rescue Committee - http://www.theIRC.org - is providing assistance to tens of thousands of people fleeing ongoing violence in Darfur and has also been launching programs to monitor human rights in the region. The International Medical Corps - http://www.imcworldwide.org.uk - is providing emergency medical assistance, nutrition and training in refugeee camps in Sudan and Chad. IMC builds self reliance by recruiting and training volunteer community health workers from within the camp to provide health care and identify those in need of treatment. Christian Outreach Relief and Development - http://www.cord.org.uk - are working in association with UNHCR to provide education and other community programmes for Sudanese refugees who have fled into Chad.
The major human rights NGOs, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch can claim some credit for issuing a flurry of reports, press releases, and urgent appeals over the past few months that have brought this catastrophe to the attention of the mass media and the world—moving the US and the UN Secretariat to serve notice to the Sudanese government. Before AI, HRW, and the UN congratulate themselves for finally denouncing Sudan loudly enough to make the headlines, it is important to ask what they did during the past 22 years. Over two million people were killed; mainly civilians from the South, Hundreds of villages were destroyed as in Darfur, slavery, rape, and torture was routine. The deeper tragedy is that this could have been prevented. It would not have happened if the international community had taken notice and made it an issue. Despite the scale, scope, and duration of this, it was never a priority on the agendas of AI, HRW, or the UN. For two decades, they quietly reported on what was happening; however, they made it a low priority. The UN Commission on Human Rights actually took up the issue at the 2004 session.
In October 2004, the Secretary General of the UN appointed 5 members of the Commission and requested that they report back on their findings about the Darfur issue within three months. The Commission was supported in its work by a Secretariat headed by an Executive Director as well as a legal research team and an investigative team composed of investigators, forensic experts, military analysts, and investigators specializing in gender violence, all appointed by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Commission assembled in Geneva and began its work on 25 October 2004. While the Commission considered all events relevant to the current conflict in Darfur, it focused in particular on incidents that occurred between February 2003 and mid-January 2005.
The Commission engaged in a regular dialogue with the Government of the Sudan while visited the Sudan from 7-21 November 2004 and 9-16 January 2005, including travel to the three Darfur States. The investigative team remained in Darfur from November 2004 through January 2005. During its presence in the Sudan, the Commission held extensive meetings with representatives of the Government, the Governors of the Darfur States and other senior officials in the capital and at provincial and local levels, members of the armed forces and police, leaders of rebel forces, tribal leaders, internally displaced persons, victims and witnesses of violations, NGOs and United Nations representatives.
The Commission submitted a full report on its findings to the Secretary-General on 25 January 2005.
While the Commission did not find a systematic or a widespread pattern to the violations that occurred, it found credible evidence that rebel forces, namely members of the SLA and JEM, also are responsible for serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law which may amount to war crimes.
In particular, these violations include cases of murder of civilians and pillage.
The Commission concluded that the Government of the Sudan has not pursued a policy of genocide.
Generally speaking the policy of attacking, killing and forcibly displacing members of some tribes does not evince a specific intent to annihilate, in whole or in part, a group distinguished on racial, ethnic, national or religious grounds. Rather, it would seem that those who planned and organized attacks on villages pursued the intent to drive the victims from their homes, primarily for purposes of counter-insurgency warfare.
The Commission does recognize that in some instances individuals, including Government officials, may commit acts with genocidal intent. Whether this was the case in Darfur, however, is a determination that only a competent court can make on a case-by-case basis.
Those identified as possibly responsible for the above-mentioned violations consist of individual perpetrators, including officials of the Government of Sudan, members of militia forces, members of rebel groups, and certain foreign army officers acting in their personal capacity. Some Government officials, as well as members of militia forces, have also been named as possibly responsible for joint criminal enterprise to commit international crimes. Others are identified for their possible involvement in planning and/or ordering the commission of international crimes, or of aiding and abetting the perpetration of such crimes. The Commission also has identified a number of senior Government officials and military commanders who may be responsible, under the notion of superior (or command) responsibility, for knowingly failing to prevent or repress the perpetration of crimes. Members of rebel groups are named as suspected of participating in a joint criminal enterprise to commit international crimes, and as possibly responsible for knowingly failing to prevent or repress the perpetration of crimes committed by rebels.
It seems very easy to judge one side and do not consider the other party. Since as they say it takes two to tango in the case of Darfur one might find that the Media of the West do not give particular attendance to the crimes committed by the rebel forces in the South of Sudan.
As we mentioned earlier, the international NGO’s were ignoring the issue of Darfur until 2003 and suddenly they talk about human rights violations, which occur for over 15 years now.
It seems that there is a disproportionate and unbalanced allocation of resources and public relations emphases reinforces other evidence leading to the conclusion that major human rights organizations carefully select their "targets" on the basis of a clear political and ideological agenda. This agenda damages their credibility and affects the credibility of the human rights community as a whole. Some NGO’s tend to select whether they are going to fulfil an action according to the budget that the government of each country provides for the specific area. Of course one cannot criticize small NGO’s because their budget is not high enough. Though NGO’s like Oxfam and Doctors without borders have companies like budgets, which make them more powerful and able to decide if they will help specific countries.
Professor of Philosophy Don Habibi from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, has made a research for NGOs which seem to have ignored Sudan since recently and gave more attention to Israel. As he states : “ I visited AI’s websites on June 5, 2004 and observed the following: By accessing the “All AI Documents on . . .” link for individual countries, the documents (news, press releases, reports, urgent actions) are listed in reverse chronological order in screens of 31. The most recent 31 documents on Israel were issued over the time span from 1 October 2003 to the present, most recently from 27 May 2004. This means that according to its on-line library records, AI released 31 reports on Israel over an 8 month period. Moreover, according to its document library, AI has issued 380 documents on Israel, dating back to 25 May 1999—a time span of 5 years. This comes to roughly 76 documents per year.
For Jordan, according to AI’s on-line library archives, AI has issued a total of 67 documents, dating back to 16 April 1998.
For Morocco/Western Sahara, a total of 55 documents have been issued, dating back to 1 March 1996.
For Egypt, a total of 187 documents have been issued, dating back to 26 February 1996.
For Algeria, a total of 120 documents have been issued, dating back to 16 February 1996.
For the United Arab Emirates, AI has issued a total of 23 documents, dating back to 1 Jan. 1997.
For Iraq, AI has produced a total of 221 documents, dating back to 1 April 1993.
For Iran, a total of 231 documents have been issued, dating back to 1 February 1995.
It is interesting to note two countries that have only recently received increased attention for their human rights violations. In Syria, the suppression of the Kurds and others did not escape AI’s notice. With 14 documents in March and April, it took less than five months to issue 31, from December 1 to the present (most recently, April 26). This sudden burst of activism is all the more commendable because there were no AI visits to Syria during this time. Over the years, there are a total of 182 documents that have been issued dating back to January 4, 1996. (AI issued twice as many documents on Israel, over a shorter period of time.) For Sudan, the ethnic cleansing in Darfur captured AI’s attention, so it took only 5 months to issue 31, from 21 Jan 2004 to June 3. AI was not nearly as attentive to the genocidal jihad waged against African people in Southern Sudan. It has produced a total of 212 documents dating back to 24 April 1996.
For Myanmar (Burma), AI has issued 155 documents, dating back to 1 April 1993.
For the Democratic Republic of the Congo/Zaire, AI has issued 220 documents, dating back to 14 June 1996.
For Cuba, AI has issued 123 documents, dating back to 1 April 1993. AI monitors last visited Cuba in 1988.
For Zimbabwe, AI issued 124 documents, dating back to 30 July 1996.
I visited the HRW websites on June 7, 2004 and observed the following number of documents available on line. For Israel and the Occupied Territories, HRW has issued 177 documents, dating back to April 1, 1991. For Jordan, 28 documents, dating back to June 1, 1997. For Lebanon, 34 documents mostly criticizing Israel, dating back to July 1, 1993. For Syria, 38 documents, dating back to Nov. 1, 1992. For Morocco, 27 documents, dating back to Oct. 1, 1995. For Algeria, 45 documents, dating back to Jan. 1, 1994. For Sudan, 90 documents, dating back to Feb. 1, 1993. For Saudi Arabia, 37 documents, dating to May 1, 1992. For the UAE, 5 documents, dating back to Aug 1, 2000. For Yemen, 7 documents, dating back to Nov. 1, 1992.
HRW issued 73 documents on Burma, dating back to Dec. 1, 1993; 131 documents on Congo/Zaire, dating back to Jan. 1, 1993; 39 documents on Cuba, dating back to Feb. 1, 1993; and 24 documents on Zimbabwe, dating back to Nov. 1, 1990.”
Another clue that is quite interesting is that as Andrés Martinez, “One State or Two, Israelis and Palestinians Share the Same Economy,” New York Times, May 28, 2004, says: “ the annual aid for Palestinians is $325.” In his opinion piece, Martinez cites Nigel Roberts, the director of the World Bank for Gaza and the West Bank.
The most recent statistics provided by the World Bank that I was able to access on-line are based on the World Development Indicators database, August 2003. According to the World Bank, in 2001 the per capita aid to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza was $280. This is far higher than per capita aid to Jordan ($85.80), Israel ($27.10), Egypt ($19.30), and Bosnia and Herzegovina ($157.40). Some South Pacific island states with tiny populations, such as Palau and the Marshall Islands, received higher per capita aid. See http://www.worldbank.org/data/countrydata/countrydata.html
So if the World Bank and the governments of several states give more aid for specific issues that are mainly political the NGO’s are lead to create actions for help in these areas, because they can only receive funds for actions that are held in these countries.
On the other hand one could argue that the NGO’s, especially the big and most famous ones have the ability to promote political decisions by faking or manipulating situations. In the case of the Sudan there is a huge question mark and it concerns the silence of the NGO’s for the 20 years that the civil war took place and the fact that only the Sudanese government is at the moment being accused for the humanitarian crisis and human right violations. Lets not forget that wars like the one in Iraq started because the US government believed that there was a humanitarian crisis and issues of human right violations, which needed to be dealt with.
Throughout the above report one can conclude that during the conflict in the Darfur area there was a sudden interest from the west, translated in NGO’s interest for funded actions, which did not at all named the actions made from the government of Sudan to stop the conflict. The NGO’s forwarded and reported to the international press atrocities and violence only from the side of the militias which were said to be promoted by the government of Sudan but no actual report was held in order to support this rumor. Due to the high amount of money funded from the governments of the west and especially the USA there is no reason why one cannot think that there is politics that lye behind the decision of the international NGO’s to act against the government of Sudan and create a myth behind real situations. Even a Jew’s NGO in USA held a donation program for the situation in darfur in order to help the ‘victims’ of the Sudanese government. We cannot easily trust that international NGO’s which have similar marketing and decision-making processes like big companies decided to raise the issue of Sudan only for peace reasons. This issue has a history of over 20 years and if there was a real and ethical reason behind their decision they should first help the Sudanese government with the efforts it has already made and then criticize it. Because their criticism is not based clearly in true facts and the people of the west formed an opinion about the government which they connect with terrorism, one of the most outrageous misinformation which in the future might cause terrorism itself.