Black People : Women in Darfur: We Saw No Evidence of Genocide

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by oldsoul, Jun 16, 2009.

  1. OldSoul

    OldSoul Permanent Black Man PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Women in Darfur: We Saw No Evidence of Genocide

    George Clooney, Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Cindy Crawford, Bono, Michael Caine, Claudia Schiffer, Bob Geldof, Hugh Grant, Mia Farrow, Mick Jagger and so many others have expressed their solidarity with the people of the oil-rich region of Darfur. A few weeks ago, Democrats John Lewis of Georgia, Keith Ellison of Minnesota, Lynn Woolsey of California, Donna Edwards of Maryland, and Jim McGovern of Massachusetts were all arrested as they demonstrated against the Sudanese government. When Colin Powell used the word genocide in 2004, it kicked off $1 billion-a-year international aid program, much higher than that afforded Somalia or Congo. But why?

    In the past few months, the International Criminal Court has charged Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir with crimes against humanity and war crimes. The ICC’s chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo is appealing the setting aside of genocide charges, claiming that there is "ongoing genocide" in Darfur. The Sudanese government has expelled some foreign aid groups, accusing them of espionage. They include Oxfam, Save the Children and Medecins Sans Frontieres. According to the Save Darfur Campaign, it was the relief organizations that provided clean water, food, and medical attention to roughly 1.5 million people. The Sudanese government claims these aid-agencies deliberately exclude Arab Darfuris in their ranks, exacerbating sectarian tensions.
    And at the moment, President Obama’s Special Envoy to Sudan, Scott Gration is on a diplomatic tour and Britain is sending $185m in aid and $140m in “peacekeeping” money.
    Collette Valentine, a TV producer visiting from the United Kingdom, and Ali Gunn, a British media consultant, last week returned from Darfur where they attended the first “International Conference on the Challenge Facing Women in Darfur” in Al-Fasher in the north. Valentine says that articles about Darfur in the international press make her feel as if she visited a completely different region, a completely different country. It all adds weight to the thesis of Columbia University’s Professor Mahmood Mamdani that there is something very murky about Western aid agencies’ insistence that there has been genocide in Darfur, that at the heart of campaigns for Darfur is the culmination of a powerful, imperial desire to suppress citizenry from U.S. high school classrooms to right across the developing world.
    Afshin Rattansi: Tell me about your visit and how your experience differed to the portrayal in the corporate media. I understand you went at the invitation of Rajaa Hassan Khalifa from the largest women’s union in conjunction with Bakri O.Saeed from Sudan International University.
    Collette Valentine: Ali Gunn and myself and a group of journalists were lucky enough to be invited to Sudan by the Sudanese Women General Union. The women’s union in Sudan has got 27,000 branches all over Sudan, including Darfur. They have representatives in all the rural villages, across all different communities consisting of around 80 tribes and clans. The women of Sudan are a real force. Historically, there have been female leaders. They are wives, mothers, farmers, they build, they grow the vegetables and basically run the communities and are respected by their men folk. A third of families in the camps are headed by women. In recent years, some members of the women’s union have been elected as ministers in the Sudanese government and a quarter of the seats in the Sudanese parliament are occupied by women.
    They are all members of the union and they have direct links right down from the most educated academic women from the professional classes to grassroots people. This chain of open communication is active and alive from bottom to top and top to bottom. Because the women have such a strong role in the communities, the women themselves have decided to take action for peace and security in Darfur. They have seen the failure of external, international agencies and NGOs and they know that peace can only come from within their own communities via reconciliation talks.
    The IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) in the refugee camps are people who have fled trouble in their own areas of Sudan. They didn’t want to leave but had no option but to flee. Before the international NGOs got involved, the IDPs were provided with camps by Al-Bashir’s government, provided with wells, administrators, bureaucratic structures, materials for shelter and local doctors, clinics, and health services paid for by the Sudanese government.
    When women fled their villages, active male rebels from every community that were fighting each other remained. Those conflicts rage on even as there is peace and stability in the camps. We saw no evidence of any genocide. We were not embedded by the government nor with any NGO. We had absolute freedom to talk with whomever we wished. And we randomly talked to as many men, women and children as we could.
    One man, a village leader who led 4,000 of his community , separated in two camps, said he had been there six years. His home was 50km away. We asked about genocide and he said that he wouldn’t have remained in the Sudanese government camps for six years if he hadn’t been looked after. When we asked about the issue of rape, he did not deny there wasn’t an issue. The women we spoke to said that unfortunately, rape exists everywhere in the world and some we spoke to quoted statistics about the prevalence of rape in the U.S. and how in developed nations, women are too frightened to press charges. One woman told me that allegations of wide and systematic rape crimes against Darfur women constitute a type of war against Sudan. Historically, in areas of conflict, they maintained, cases of crime and rape are bound to increase. Rape is not a weapon of the government and women are being told to report instances of rape. But the ICC is using the prevalence of rape and giving it undue importance, helping NGOs fill their coffers...

     
  2. river

    river Watch Her Flow MEMBER

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    What to think

    Arabs occupying an African country on one side
    Foreign aide on the other side

    Everybody in the room looks shady
     
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