By Mo Ahmed
Resposted from www.mo-politicsandecon.blogspot.com
On Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at around 8 pm, I joined a group of friends in front of the University of Rochester’s Rush-Rhees Library in solidarity for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. We had candles handed out, and observed a few moments of silence for all victims of this cowardly terrorism act against innocent men, women and children who did nothing wrong but promoted peace and kindness in the world.
Nine hours later, April 18, 2013 (Yesterday) at approximately 5 am— I received yet another call to light more candles and observe more moments of silence. This time I will need to light candles for five immediate family members and many other civilians who were brutally murdered in Labado, a small town in Eastern Darfur where many of my family members live. Sadly enough, my uncle, two of his sons and another cousin were killed right in front of United Nations African Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) base. Later on, another one of my close relatives was also found dead not far from the same base. I’m in direct contact with people on the ground. I have details of more victims.
This incident took place on Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at approximately 09:30 am—when the Sudanese Armed Forces, supported by the Popular Defense Forces and another armed group (call them Janjaweed Militias if you wish), took control of Labado town from the Sudan Liberation Movement / Minni Minawi (SLA/MM). See 16 Apr 13 –Press statement on the situation in Labado and Mohajeria, East Darfur.
Frankly speaking, and from personal experience of working in support of Sudan peacekeeping missions (including AUCFC, AMIS, UNAMID) for many years, I am not surprised to see incidents like this taking place in front of the “Peacekeepers,” and folks familiar with peacekeeping operations (especially in Sudan) will understand why I say this. Of course, I am neither saying Darfur would be better off without UNAMID nor am I under-appreciating the sacrifices made by many (including lives) in order to promote peace and stability in my country. My point here is that UNAMID is inefficient and can’t even protect its own personnel put aside the very same people that the mission is there to protect.
Further more, it’s important to note that UNAMID, was established on 31 July 2007 with the adoption of Security Council resolution 1769. UNAMID has the “protection of civilians” as its core mandate along with other tasks that include contributing to security for “humanitarian assistance”, monitoring and verifying implementation of agreements, assisting an inclusive political process, “contributing to the promotion of human rights and the rule of law” see The Security Council’s extension of UNAMID mandate through 31 July 3013.
Just a few questions for our dear world leaders: continuous rights violations by the Government of Sudan (GOS) and its militias right in front of UNAMID troops stationed in the area is totally normal, right? After all, UN official estimates of Darfur death toll five-years into the conflict (2003-2008)was only 300,000 in 2008 right?
If those estimates (although they range from 200,000 to 300, 000 depending on the source) are not significant enough, then please consider this: according to a peace studies program conducted by Cornell University, just between 1983- 2001, Sudan accounted for 2 Million War Related Deaths,of course, overwhelmingly civilians. I think the moral high ground has long been lost by the International Community. Bashir and his Milita’s are free to kill, rape, and displace as many civilians as they can (From South Sudan, to Darfur, Nuba Mountains, The Blue Nile..etc) , and the solution is turning a blind eye on Sudan to let them all die right? Or could be it be just asking for more money from the International Donors like This?
I’ll only focus on a few small aspects of this piece today, for it deserves a whole book and not a blog post.
If I may ask more questions: Is Bashir a saint compared to Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, the late Gaddafi of Libya, current Asaad of Syria or even Joseph Kony? If the answer from the International Community is yes, then I will have no further questions. And if the answer is no, then what is so special about Bashir? When will he be asked to step down? yet, even a better question: when do we draw the red line?
Please read my previous recent posts like this and/or this to get the full picture of what i’m intending to say here.
As complicated as Sudan’s crises are and whatever uncertainties there might be, I think letting Bashir continue suppressing or killing Sudanese civilians is one of the greatest mistakes the International Community has made and continues making in recent history. Nonetheless, it’s still not too late for the International Community and the WHOLE WORLD to do the right thing. I see no reason why any particular groups of civilians in other countries (Be it the Middle East, North Africa or any other part of the globe) are adored or idolized more than the civilian population in Sudan.