Saturday, September 08, 2007

Speaking of Darfur ...

... I'm reminded of something about being lead down the garden path. The New York Times for Friday reported that
[t]he United Nations and Sudan announced Thursday that the government and Darfur rebel leaders would hold peace negotiations next month to seek an end to a conflict that many in the world contend constitutes genocide.

The talks, under the auspices of the United Nations and the African Union, will begin on Oct. 27 in Tripoli, the capital of Libya.

In a statement, the government of Sudan pledged “to contribute positively to secure the environment for the negotiations.” Sudan also promised to “facilitate the timely deployment” of the new 26,000-member African Union-United Nations peacekeeping force, which it agreed this summer, under intense international pressure, to accept.
Oh my dear word, how many times have we been down this road? How many times have we heard promises from the government of Sudan that proved to be as worthless as their souls?

In April 2004 the government agreed to a ceasefire in Darfur and almost immediately broke it repeatedly, so much so that in May 2004 a report to the UN Security Council charged Sudan with pursuing a "scorched earth policy" in Darfur.

In June 2004 Sudan promised to disarm the janjaweed militia doing most of it's dirty work in Darfur. Despite a few PR presentations, it never actually made any serious move toward that end.

In July 2004, Sudanese officials were reliably reported to be threatening people in refugee camps in Darfur to keep silent about their experience and the deplorable conditions in the camps when inspectors passed through.

In August 2004, Sudan promised to abide by a July UNSC resolution seeking to end the conflict but within a few weeks was breaking the ceasefire, blocking the arrival of humanitarian relief, and resisting the emplacement of African Union peacekeepers. It continues to this day to trumpet its support for peacekeepers while dragging its feet on their emplacement and enforcement ability.

In November 2004 yet another ceasefire was declared; by January 2005 it, too, was history.

In July 2005 the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights charged Sudan with maintaining "a climate of impunity" for Sudanese police and soldiers who raped civilians in Darfur.

In March 2007 a report to the United Nations Human Rights Council accused Sudan of orchestrating human rights abuses and war crimes in Darfur. At around the same time, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir wrote to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon claiming support for the AU and the UN and for humanitarian aid to Darfur - but weasled out of a November 2006 accord under which Sudan agreed to the deployment in Darfur of a joint UN-AU force.

So you'll have to excuse me if I'm not the least impressed by this latest round of smiley-face.

In fairness I have to add that the professional diplomats, determined to make nice even in the face of that record, remain at least outwardly optimistic. Supervising the talks will be Jan Eliasson, Secretary General Ban's special representative for Darfur. Eliasson
noted that Libya had helped in two meetings, in April and July, to convince reluctant rebel leaders, some of whom are based in Tripoli, of the need to seek a political solution.

A major test of Thursday’s proposal will be how many people from the rebel side show up, but Mr. Eliasson said the time was right for taking the initiative. “The common denominator was that all sides have realized now that there is no military solution,” he said.
Back in December 2004, I ended one of the above-linked posts this way:
Isn't there a point, isn't there a time, and dammit, isn't that point and time here and now, when you look at what's around you, when you look at the hunger and death and fear and blood and exhaustion and pain and cruelty - when you stop and say "What is worth this?" I don't care which side you're on, isn't there some moment when you say "My cause is not worth the price?" When comes that moment, when comes the labored breath that simply says "Enough!" and turns to burying the dead?

That's the question I ask both sides now - is it worth it? Or, more exactly, how can it be worth it?
I can only hope Mr. Eliasson is right in him conviction and justified in his confidence and I can't help but admire the strength (if not the blessed naiveté) of those who manage to maintain their optimism in the face of the record. Blessed are the peacemakers.

Footnote: The toll in Darfur is an estimated 200,000 dead and 2.5 million homeless. Sudan claims the death toll is only 9,000. Eliasson has his work cut out for him.

No comments:

// I Support The Occupy Movement : banner and script by @jeffcouturer / (v1.2) document.write('
I support the OCCUPY movement
');function occupySwap(whichState){if(whichState==1){document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}else{document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}} document.write('');