The Amazing Photo Story of a Sudanese Ex-Child Soldier

11 04 2010

The BBC has an excellent photographic story of a Sudanese ex-child soldier. The slideshow by Lucy Fleming was produced by Steve Scott and Phil Coomes. Photos are by Save the Children’s Colin Crowley and Lucy Fleming. See the full slideshow





Sudan is Critical

5 10 2008

Today Reuters reports that the foreign minister of Sudan has criticized both US vice presidential contenders, Biden & Palin. They expressed support for the idea of a flying ban over the Darfur region in their recent TV debate.

Sudanese foreign ministry spokesman Ali al-Sadig on Sunday said an air ban would be ineffective because the Sudanese armed forces are only using government planes and helicopters to fight bandits and protect humanitarian convoys.

The Darfur conflict has killed 200,000 – 300,000 and driven more than 2.5 million from their homes, say international experts. Khartoum puts the death toll at 10,000.

Opinion

As I have reported in earlier posts the Darfur situation was recognized as genocide by the Busy administration as long ago as 2004. In September 2004 Secretary Powell officially invoked the term “genocide” to describe what was going on there in testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and  President Bush (white House Press Release, September 9, 2004).

Despite calling it a genocide the U.S. and the rest of the world have taken no effective action to date. UN forces there have no mandate to engage. They are there to observe and offer humanitarian aid. This is a repeat of Rwanda.

A no fly zone would at least show some action was being taken, but not nearly enough. Enforcement of the International Criminal Court’s prosecution of Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, for alleged genocide and crimes against humanity would also be a step in the right direction.

Incredibly, and despite all the evidence the no fly zone is only a possibility with pathetic arguments being made against it, and apparently THE UN Security Council is under pressure to suspend the International Criminal Court’s prosecution of Bashir according to a report in the Economist, which I reported here last week.

The charges may be dropped because, of the Security Council’s five permanent members, three – China, Russia and the United States—refused to sign up to the International Criminal Court. Coincidentally Russia and China have huge financial interests in Sudan and are actively supporting the regime, and in-directly the genocide. I reported on this before – China is Fueling the War in Darfur.

the 53-member African Union (AU) and the 56-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) have also demanded that the Security Council suspend proceedings against Mr Bashir. As the author of the Economist article rightly points out several members of the AU abd OIC, “no doubt fearing that it could be their turn next”, to face the International Criminal Courts.

It is also interesting that Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in her electioneering today accused Obama of “palling around with terrorists”. She could equally suggest that, by their unwillingness to act to stop what they themselves describe as genocide, the republican party, the President, and the United states are also guilty of “palling around with terrorists.”





Saving the President

26 09 2008

THE UN Security Council is under pressure to suspend the International Criminal Court’s prosecution of Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, for alleged genocide and crimes against humanity, according to a report in the Economist magazine today.

Unsurprisingly, Mr Bashir does not like the charge at all, and nor do the rest of his peers in the 53-member African Union (AU) and the 56-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Both groups have demanded that the Security Council suspend proceedings against Mr Bashir. As the author of the article rightly points out several members of the AU abd OIC, “no doubt fearing that it could be their turn next”.

Further increasing the pressure on the ICC if it does indict Mr Bashir (a decision is expected in November), several AU and OIC members, who together account for a third of the ICC’s 108 states parties, have threatened to pull out of the court.

With an eye on Sudan, Ban Ki-moon, the UN’s secretary-general, recently declared that the search for a balance between peace and justice “should never be influenced by the threats and postures of those seeking to escape justice”.

There is a more than reasonable chance that charges will be dropped, or ‘postponed’ despite the overwhelming evidence against Bashir (an estimated 300,000 have already lost their lives and some 3m have been forced to flee their homes in the five-year conflict, continues to deteriorate). And, despite the fact that as early as September 2004 Secretary Powell officially invoked the term “genocide” to describe what was going on there in testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and  President Bush (white House Press Release, September 9, 2004).

Despite calling it a genocide the U.S. and the rest of the world have taken no effective action to date. This is Rwanda 2:0, and the killing not only continues, it is getting worse.

Why might charges be dropped despite the evidence? Corrupt politics of course. Of the Security Council’s five permanent members, three – China, Russia and the United States—refused to sign up to the court. Coincidentally Russia and China have huge financial interests in Sudan and are actively supporting the regime, and in-directly the genocide. I reported on this before – China is Fueling the War in Darfur.

As I have also said already, Darfur and Sudan show the ineffectiveness of the United nations. Now there is a more than reasonable chance that they will show how useless one of it’s key institutions, the International Criminal Court, actually is. This may make or break the future of the ICC and, the action of the permanent members in relation to Sudan and Darfur will be yet another test of the credibility of the United Nations itself.

Read the Economist Article





Pure Evil: Joseph Kony

20 09 2008

Joseph Kony has to be one of the most evil men alive, and he is still committing atrocities. The Lords Resistance Army, he created and is the commander of, this week carried out a surprise attack on a military base in southern Sudan.  The LRA are notorious for abducting children and mutilating victims.

Although from Uganda, The group have been in camps on the Sudan-DR Congo border for the last two years during peace negotiations. From its many bases in the region it has led a rebellion against the government for more than 20 years. Recent reports say he has set up six new bases in northern DR Congo and is running diamond mines in the Central African Republic.

The LRA leader is accused of numerous war crimes, including abducting and mutilating civilians and forcing thousands of children into combat.

Kony has a lot to answer for. In Sudan the LRA were hired and supported by the Sudanese Government of Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir who is also responsible for the Darfur crisis today. They received weapons and other support to punish Uganda for supporting souther Sudanese rebels.

In April, LRA leader Joseph Kony refused to sign a peace deal agreed to by his representatives after nearly two years of talks. Kony was said to have not signed the agreement because he was seeking guarantees about arrest warrants from the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. Last weekend, an LRA spokesman told the BBC the rebels were willing to sign the agreement but would not disarm until the ICC indictments were lifted.

On October 6, 2005 it was announced by the International Criminal Court (ICC) that arrest warrants had been issued for five members of the Lord’s Resistance Army for crimes against humanity following a sealed indictment. On the next day Ugandan defense minister Amama Mbabazi revealed that the warrants include Joseph Kony, his deputy Vincent Otti, and LRA commanders Raska Lukwiya, Okot Odiambo and Dominic Ongwen. According to spokesmen for the military, the Ugandan army killed Lukwiya on August 12, 2006

A week later, on October 13, ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo released details on Kony’s indictment. There are 33 charges, 12 counts are crimes against humanity, which include murder, enslavement, sexual enslavement and rape. There are another 21 counts of war crimes which include murder, cruel treatment of civilians, intentionally directing an attack against a civilian population, pillaging, inducing rape, and forced enlisting of children into the rebel ranks. Ocampo said that “Kony was abducting girls to offer them as rewards to his commanders.”

On August 28, 2008, the United States Treasury Department placed Kony on its list of “specially designated global terrorists,” a designation that carries financial and other penalties. It is unknown whether or not Kony has any assets that are affected by this designation.

Asked about the ICC charges, he insisted: “I am not guilty. I am not guilty. I am not guilty. But we want the people of Uganda to be free. We are fighting for democracy.” (BBC Newsnight, June 2006). He claims not to kill civilians, only the soldiers of the Ugandan government. He also denies child abductions, but there are many survivors that contradict this.

He sees himself as a spirit medium who gets his instructions from the Holy Spirit.

He has created an aura of fear and mysticism around himself and his rebels follow strict rules and rituals.”When you go to fight you make the sign of the cross first. If you fail to do this, you will be killed,” one young fighter who escaped from the LRA told Human Rights Watch. “You must also take oil and draw a cross on your chest, your forehead, and each shoulder, and you must make a cross in oil on your gun. They say that the oil is the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Mr Kony appears to believe that his role is to cleanse the Acholi people. He uses biblical references to explain why it is necessary to kill his own people, since they have – in his view – failed to support his cause.

In his interview with BBC’s Newsnight he confirmed that he is guided by spirits, “I don’t know the number but they speak to me. They load through me. They will tell us what is going to happen. They say ‘you, Mr Joseph, tell your people that the enemy is planning to come and attack’.”

The LRA have combined the fanaticism of a cult with ruthless military efficiency, and while its apparent aim is to impose the Ten Commandments on Uganda its means could scarcely have been more evil..

SOURCES:

Uganda rebels in surprise attack

Uganda rebel leader breaks silence

Profile: Ugandan rebel Joseph Kony

Wikipedia





China 'is fuelling war in Darfur'

14 09 2008

The BBC has found the first evidence that China is currently helping Sudan’s government militarily in Darfur.

The Panorama TV programme tracked down Chinese army lorries in the Sudanese province that came from a batch exported from China to Sudan in 2005.

The BBC was also told that China was training fighter pilots who fly Chinese A5 Fantan fighter jets in Darfur.

China’s government has declined to comment on the BBC’s findings, which contravene a UN arms embargo on Darfur.

The embargo requires foreign nations to take measures to ensure they do not militarily assist anyone in the conflict in Darfur, in which the UN estimates that about 300,000 people have died.

More than two million people are also believed to have fled their villages in Darfur, destroyed by pro-government Arab Janjaweed militia.

COMMENT

Given it’s own record there should be no surprise in the discovery of China’s actions in Sudan. China’s interests in Sudanese oil and other commodities far outweigh their concerns about the genocide being committed by the government of Sudan. It is no wonder then that China consistently blocks any attempt by members of the United Nations to put an end to the Sudanese government’s war on its own people. In other African countries China’s is also exploiting weaker nations, and the poor in those countries, for its own gain.

Having said this China is just the latest country to turn a blind eye to mass killings by governments they are supporting. Sudan’s history, and that of several other countries, reveals the guilt of many nations. Perhaps it is for this reason the United Nations should ‘hang its head in shame’. It is an organization that does nothing to stop the genocide and is loosing what little credibility it still has.

When the true horrors of Sudan, and when the Chinese and other nations involvement in them, is exposed we will be witness to another Rwanda. How many more Rwanda’s can the United Nations survive?

FULL STORY





Now Sudan Is Attacking Refugee Camps

7 09 2008

The following is the transcript of a letter sent By MIA FARROW and ERIC REEVES to Wall Street Journal in September 6, 2008:


At 6 a.m. on the morning of Aug. 25, Kalma camp, home to 90,000 displaced Darfuris, was surrounded by Sudanese government forces. By 7 a.m., 60 heavily armed military vehicles had entered the camp, shooting and setting straw huts ablaze. Terrified civilians — who had previously fled their burning villages when they were attacked by this same government and its proxy killers the Janjaweed — hastily armed themselves with sticks, spears and knives. Of course, these were no match for machine guns and automatic weapons. By 9 a.m., the worst of the brutal assault was over. The vehicles rolled out leaving scores dead and over 100 wounded. Most were women and children.

The early morning attack ensured that no aid workers were present as witnesses. Doctors Without Borders did manage to negotiate the transportation of 49 of the most severely wounded to a hospital in the nearby town of Nyala. But beyond this, aid workers have been blocked from entering the camp. Military vehicles have now increased in number and massed around Kalma. They have permitted no humanitarian assistance to reach the wounded. People already hard hit by recent floods and deteriorating sanitary conditions have received no food, water or medicine since Monday. The dead cannot even be buried with the white shrouds requested by the families of the victims.

How can such brazen cruelty be inflicted upon our fellow human beings? How is it that a military assault on displaced civilians in a refugee camp creates barely a ripple in the news cycle? How does such outrageous human destruction prompt so little outrage? How is it that those who have been tasked with protecting the world’s most vulnerable population have failed — and failed, and then failed yet again — in their central responsibility? What does this say about the United Nations and the powerful member states? How have we come to such a moment?

Such questions can be answered by looking at our response to Darfur’s agony over the past six years. Any honest assessment would be as shocking and dispiriting as the assault on Kalma itself. The international response to massive crimes by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and his cabal has been simply this: We accommodate and acquiesce, with the contrived hope that these tyrants might grow weary of their task, or that paper agreements can somehow have meaning without a sustained and powerful international commitment backing them.

The Kalma massacre is a part of Khartoum’s larger genocidal campaign. Since 2003, 80%-90% of Darfur’s African villages have been destroyed, and more than 2.5 million survivors have fled to squalid camps across Darfur, eastern Chad and the Central African Republic. Hundreds of thousands have died. Khartoum’s next goal is to shut down camps in Darfur, and force people out into the desert where they cannot survive. The homes and fields that once sustained so many of Darfur’s people are ashes now, or they have new occupants — Arab tribes from Darfur and as far away as Chad, Niger and Mali.

The message of the Kalma massacre is chillingly clear for Darfuris. But this assault on civilians in full view of the international community raises the question of what the massacre says about the rest of us. The only message we have sent to the Sudanese government is that they can now attack the camps and the world will watch and do nothing.

Ms. Farrow has just returned from her 10th trip to the Darfur region. Mr. Reeves is author of “A Long Day’s Dying: Critical Moments in the Darfur Genocide” (The Key Publishing House, 2007).

Source: www.miafarrow.org

COMMENT:

As poverty and corruption go, it does not get much worse than the situation in Darfur! It is Rwanda all over again and the world is responding in exactly the same way – DOING NOTHING!. By doing nothing our governments are guilty, by not forcing our governments to do anything we are equally complicit.

I will be posting a lot more about Darfur soon!