Remembering Darfur

Posted: March 14, 2009 by Jonathan Boyko in Human Rights, Own Articles, United Nations, US
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No, it's not as bad as Gaza. It's much, much worse.

No, it's not as bad as Gaza. It's much, much worse.

While the media, the European Union politicians and all the human rights organizations prefer pounding Israel for unfair treatment of Palestinians, they all conveniently forget about much larger massacres happening in the world, one of the worst being the Darfur massacre. To compare, googling “Gaza war” provides 34,900,000 results, while searching for “Darfur war” returns only 6,630,000 results, while the fatality rate is two-hundred and thirty (yes, 230) times higher in Darfur then in Gaza (180,000 fatalities, according to the UN estimates in 2005, with claims of 300,000 a year ago; versus 1,300 fatalities in Gaza, according to Israeli Defense Forces estimate, not yet disputed by anyone serious). Here is another example for you: Google News returns 82,880 news results for the past 30 days for “Gaza”, and only 27,773 results for “Darfur”. Not to bore you with statistics, but in 2005 the UN estimated 10,000 people were dying in Darfur each month – 1,300 in Gaza. While the “massacre” in Gaza is already over, the genocide in Darfur is still up and running.

Don’t get the figures wrong, I am not trying to downplay what happened in Gaza, however, I believe it is important to understand that what happens in Darfur is much worse – and gets way less attention. Apparently, if it is blacks being murdered, it’s a lot easier for well-paid white people to overlook.

The conflict around the region is not new, and starts in 1980’s. Darfur is mostly populated by Arabs (consisting of about 40 per cent of the population) and the Fur (about 25 per cent), while also being home to smaller groups and tribes, such as the Masalit and Zaghawa (12 and 9 per cent respectively). Conflicts between the Juhayna Arabs and the Furs had been taking place long before the genocide, while probably the most pressing issue was the water, which the Juhaynas used to raise livestock, while the Furs and other minorities mostly used the water for farming. Governmental conduct poured fuel into the fire by neglecting the region and its problems, while backing the Arab population. The conflicts were exacerbated by militia, retreating from Chad, who eventually formed an alliance with Darfur Arabs, which eventually became known as Janjaweed. Shortly after that, the Arab alliance began campaign of attacks on non-Arab farming communities, who developed their own armed forces in response, due to government’s inactivity.

Between 1999 and 2002, Sudan’s National Congress Party – the ruling party at the time – has split, with many Darfurians going into opposition and forming the Popular National Congress Party. Sudan People’s Liberation Army, who fought the government since 1983 in the South, provided support to the rebelling parties in Darfur, including arms and advisers on military matters. Soon enough, the Chadian army began supporting the Darfur rebels. This led to creation of two anti-Janjaweed groups: the Sudan Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement. It is interesting to point out, that unlike the SLA, the JEM consisted mostly of Muslims of non-Arab origin.

In 2003, the SLA launched series of attacks against the governmental military forces in Jebel Marra region of Darfur. This action prompted the government to retaliate and it did so in force (Later, the government would blame the SLA and the JEM for the atrocities, saying the groups were at fault by attacking first). Not only were the SLA fighters targeted, but whole communities, which – the government believed – supported the rebels. The main perpetrators were the Janjaweed militia, who burned entire villages and massacred its populations, including the use of air force to destroy towns and villages. The government denied its involvement, and although no one doubts its involvement, its inactivity on the issue is involvement enough.

The 2005 UN report, published after roughly two years of hostilities, estimated some 1.85 million displaced civilians and refugees, while on April 23rd, 2008 the head of UN humanitarian affairs office, John Holmes, claimed the number of fatalities could reach up to 300,000. If the statistics are even remotely correct, at the moment, we could be way past 400,000 massacred. This is nothing short of genocide.

Yet, the media, the human rights groups, the Muslim protesters around the world – so quick to blame Israel for everything, without even waiting for an investigation – are surprisingly silent. I could understand the news anchors and editors. When you sit back in the comfortable chair and think of your next several-zeros-above-the-regular-guy salary, you think of a news story that would pump the blood into people, make it boil. What’s better than Israel’s operation in Gaza? The journalists can stay in safety of Israel, under the protection of the IDF, while pointing their cameras into Gaza and reporting unsubstantiated “facts” they get from informants within. This kind of story would make people angry, this would make them stay glued to the TV and then walk outside to demonstrate Israel’s brutality, which would account for another blood-boiling story for the aforementioned editor. With the Darfur crisis it is just not the same, isn’t it? A bunch of black Muslims killing other black Muslims and non-Muslims just doesn’t play with the modern society. Worse – it could offend the European Muslims somehow – and then all Hell breaks loose.

What made me and matthewhughes from Plurk think of the lack of attention to Darfur’s crisis is the recent homecoming of Royal Anglian Regiment to the streets of Luton. Although the overall event went fine, some non-Buddhist protesters couldn’t help but protest against the “killers” and “butchers of Basra”. There were just few of them, no more than twenty, apparently, and the police immediately surrounded them… in order to protect them from possible attempts to “educate” them on the matter. Thankfully for those guys, they live in democracy, with the free speech idea built-in, thus they had their right to protest, although several non-Muslim protesters tried to express their opinion in ways rather harsh. Yet, one can’t but wonder how come we have never seen pictures of those guys, demonstrating at the gate to the Sudanese embassy in London, against the massacre of their Muslim brothers in Darfur? Hey, the Sudanese guys even provide you with the address right here, you just need to take a few hours off, go to London and make some headlines. What? You still can’t do it? Well, why not? Is it because the Muslims being butchered are not Arabs as well? Gee wiz, here goes my illusion about all Muslims being brothers.

Couldn't have said it better

Couldn't have said it better

Unfortunately, the democratic world or the “Western world”, if you will, didn’t do much either. The UN, being the usual useless self, decried time after time government’s involvement in the atrocities and stated that “all parties are obliged to respect international humanitarian law”. Hell, they even passed resolutions to show how serious they are about the crisis. You see those guys being massacred? What’d we call them, the Furs? Well, we’d better make damn sure they respect international law. Genocide or not, this is really important.

The UN wasn’t the only body to spring into action. Back in 2004, the United States referred to the Darfur crisis as “genocide”, while in 2006 British PM Tony Blair stated that the situation was “completely unacceptable”. Well, that’s some progress! By the time those guys decide to actually do something, there will be no one left in Darfur. (Between us folks, I think God has already passed a resolution of his own, saving a seat in hell for Blair, Kofi Annan and a few others. Unlike UN’s, his resolutions always get implemented).

…Two days ago, I was watching the news on Israeli Channel 2. They ran the story about the parents of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, who set a tent in front of Prime Minister’s house, to demand action from him on resolving this situation. I couldn’t help but remember that the Israeli media never forgot Shalit, even though he’s imprisoned for over 992 days now. At times, the media covered more, at times less, but Shalit was always mentioned in this way or another. Some TV programs, like the 6 o’clock news, for example, count days Shalit stays in Hamas’ captivity. I thought: “How come the western media can’t do that about Darfur?”

Looking objectively at it, it is clear CNN couldn’t end each their newscast with a message: “another two hundred people massacred in Darfur”. That’s fine, I understand, because: a) it takes the much valued time, which CNN could use to show ads and get revenue, and b) at times, there are too many conflicts to cover. Okay. Then do at least something. Make a Darfur-related website, which gives viewers up-to-date information. Update the viewers once a day on the TV channel of what’s happening there. For Pete’s sake, mass-media has great power, and could spur some activity in the UN, maybe even bring the NATO to resolve the situation. Instead, absolute most just prefer to run a 180-second-long story about the massacres, as soon as something “newsworthy” shows up.

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Comments
  1. […] of victims of the genocide in Darfur, where Muslim tribes, with government’s assistance already slaughtered some 500,000 victims, and up for way more. The international community, so eager to criticize […]

  2. About the time the UN became a safe heaven for terrorist-supporting entities.

  3. Boulos says:

    When was the last time the United States or Israel listened to the UN?

  4. First of all, maybe Israel shows the Arabs as the bad guys, but the Arabs do same with Israel – and a lot worse, including Jew-eating rabbits on Hamas TV.

    Now, what have Israel done for Darfur? Let’s see:
    Israel donated USD 5 million to Darfur refugees (http://is.gd/nv2C)
    Israel granted some of the refugees its citizenship (http://is.gd/nv2P)
    Israelis help the Darfur refugees who came to Israel to adjust (http://is.gd/nv30)
    Israelis create websites, trying to help the refugees (http://is.gd/nv3l)

    While all this isn’t a lot, we do much more than many other countries, especially with Israeli economy spiraling down.

    By the way, Israel can’t stop genocide in Darfur, that’s what the United Nations for, but it, controlled by many countries who simply couldn’t care less for the rest of the world, fail to stop genocide after genocide.

  5. Boulos says:

    Is this because they are biased or because no one cares about Africa? Israeli’s like to make this a big deal because the “arabs” are the bad guys when the conflict is actually tribal and the “arabs” are simply an Arabic speaking tribe.

    So again, what has Israel done to stop the genocide?

  6. First of all, I’m not making this only about European Muslims, you’re twisting. However, you’re missing the point. Muslim population, which is extremely quick to react for “massacres” against their Muslim brothers in Gaza, couldn’t care less for the same thing in Darfur.

  7. Boulos says:

    I don’t see Israel or Ukraine doing anything to stop the actions in Darfur. Its sad that you show such contempt for innocents by simply making this about “european muslims”.

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