Paul Yeenie Harry ~ (May 3 2006)
"...The silence and inaction is not about whether the world knows, or doesn’t know, about who is affected in the Darfur crisis – the world knows. It’s clear that the non-Arab black Africans are the ones that are subjected to the great human sufferings and decimation taking place in the region. Leading humanitarian and human rights organizations, the media, officials of different governments, etc., have all gathered and reported information on this. The world knows this!...”
Many are asking why the current Darfur crisis, which started in February of 2003, and which has caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands and displaced millions of Darfurians, continues to rage right before the eyes of the world.
According to reports, at least 300,000 people have died and more than 2 million people are displaced, including more than 200,000 refugees in the Republic of Chad, since the inception of the crisis a little over three years ago.
In spite of the huge loss of lives and the great human sufferings going on, many people are confused by the fact that politicians and opinion leaders only talk and suggest cosmetic solutions, but take no decisive stance aimed at ending the crisis. Others are angry at the fact that the world has knowingly chosen silence, insensitivity and inaction, while a whole nation of people burns.
The one-million-dollar question is: why has the world, in light of the great human sufferings and carnage going on in Darfur, chosen silence to outspokenness, insensitivity to sensitivity and inaction to action? “Why, people of the world, why?” the Darfurians must be asking.
The silence and inaction is not about whether the world knows, or doesn’t know, about who is affected in the Darfur crisis – the world knows. It’s clear that the non-Arab black Africans are the ones that are subjected to the great human sufferings and decimation taking place in the region. Leading humanitarian and human rights organizations, the media, officials of different governments, etc., have all gathered and reported information on this. The world knows this!
Besides, the problem is not about whether the world knows, or doesn’t know, about what has happened, or is happening, in the region – the world knows. Journalists, aid workers and eyewitnesses, including victims of the crisis, have narrated over and over that the crimes that are committed against the civilians include systematic and wide-scale ethnic cleansing, murder, rape, torture, burning of villages and enslavement. The world knows this!
Speaking to a BBC reporter in Darfur on 30 April 2006, a little Darfurian girl said, “… when the Janjaweeds came, we left our helpless grandparent in the house and ran for our lives.” Right after this statement, she began to weep.
The unseriousness of the world to end the crisis is not even about the world not knowing who the perpetrators are – the world knows. It is an open secret that the Arab militias, called Janjaweeds, and the Sudanese government of President Omar el-Bashir are the ones unleashing the great human sufferings and deaths on the non-Arab black Africans. The world is aware of this! Genocide Intervention has this to say: http://www.genocideintervention.net/educate/darfurinfo/
Still, the issue is not even about whether the great international humanitarian and human rights organizations are talking, or not talking, about the crisis – they are. The world of information is replete with reports and documents prepared by these organizations, detailing and describing the great human sufferings and killings going on, as well as those responsible for what is happening. The world knows this!
Mercy Corps, International Crisis Group, Amnesty International, the International Rescue Committee, Medecins Sans Frontiers, OXFAM, Genocide Intervention Network, Human Rights Watch, the International Committee of the Red Cross, etc., have all reported on the situation, virtually crying up to the world to help the Darfurians. The world is cognizant of this!
Furthermore, the world’s failure to solve the problem in Darfur is not about the media not reporting it. We are not in the medieval period where people in Poland wouldn’t know that Katrina is raging hell in New Orleans, or that a woman called Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has become the first African female president.
Information technology has improved so greatly that one can stay at one end of the world and know instantly and exactly what is happening at the other end. The world knows this!
The Internet is replete with news and information about the situation in Darfur. Besides, leading media institutions such as the BBC, World News Australia, CNN, The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, Catholic Insight, etc., continue to report on the situation. The world knows this!
The feet-dragging mentality is not even about whether the great countries, or the great economic and political blocks, know about what is happening, or not – they know it even more than the ordinary citizens of the world.
Former US Secretary of State, Collins Powell, described the situation as genocide in September 2004. According to Christian Science Monitor, the US Congress calls it genocide, the Bush administration calls it ethnic cleansing and the European Union calls it a massive violations of human rights. The world knows this!
The indecisiveness is not even about whether the United Nations is aware of the gravity of the situation, or not – it’s fully aware. In fact, the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, is on record for describing the Darfur crisis as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis of today.
Also, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has reported large-scale killings, abductions, rape and destruction of villages. The investigative reader is encouraged to peruse the interview with the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland: http://www.irinnews.org/webspecials/SudanDarfur/Int-UNERC-Jan-Egeland.asp
To indicate to what extent the UN is aware of the Darfur situation, the investigative reader is encouraged to view the Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur to the United Nations Secretary-General, at http://www.ohchr.org/english/docs/darfurreport.doc
The problem is not even about whether African leaders are aware, or not – they are. In fact, some of them, including President Thambo Mbeki of South Africa, have either visited Sudan, or send their representatives there. The world knows this!
Speaking to a huge crowd in Washington, DC on 30 April 2006, following his trip to the Darfur region, actor George Clooney remarked, “The US, UN and the world’s policy on Darfur is failing.”
Another speaker at the same rally was Nobel Prize laureate Elie Wiesel of the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity. Reflecting on the silence of the world, in relation to the seriousness of the situation in Darfur, he averred, “Silence helps the killers, not the victims.”
But if all the points mentioned supra are true– which is actually the case – then why has the world remained silent, insensitive, inactive and indecisive all these years?
While it may be true that giving a one-pointed answer may be simplistic, one thing that is certain is this: in a crisis situation, like the one in Darfur, when the world refuses not only to act, but to act on time and to act decisively, the result is unbearably unnecessary human sufferings and loss of lives and properties on a large scale.
It doesn’t matter whether the world comes back later and uses the hypocritical and meaningless expression, “Never again will we allow this to happen!”
The world sat in silence and inaction when Germany invaded Poland, destroying Poles and Jews in their numbers, coming in only after their own interest, or existence, was at stake. Before this, millions and millions of people had already died and properties worth billions of dollars destroyed, in addition to the great human sufferings. The world shamelessly stood and shouted, “Never again will we allow this to happen!”
After this meaningless and hypocritical expression, the world sat in silence and inaction when countries like Cambodia, Bosnia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda and many others burned. At the end of the great destruction and sufferings, the world, again, shamelessly stood and shouted, “Never again will we allow this to happen!”
They sat in silence and inaction when, in 1994, about 800, 000 Rwandans were massacred in the space of three months. At the end of it all, the world once more, as the weak and defenseless had expected, shamelessly stood and shouted, “Never again will we allow this to happen!”
At the moment, as the reader goes through this article, hundreds of thousands of people are suffering and dying in other conflict areas in different parts of the world. As usual, the world is sitting in silence and inaction.
What will the world say after the Darfur suffering and carnage? It’s simple: “Never again will we allow this to happen,” which actually means, we are expecting another crisis, but don’t expect us to act different.
About the author:
Paul Yeenie Harry is a Liberian; he lives in Poland. He can be reached at email@example.com