Peer attacks UN's 'impotence' and 'collusion' over Darfur
A well known Christian and member of the House of Lords has attacked the failure of a UN commission to call the mass killings in the Western Darfur region 'genocide' and suggested that securing access to the oil fields in the south 'seem to matter more to the international community than preventing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians'.
A new UN report has concluded that the Sudanese government and militias carried out mass killings and probably war crimes in the western Darfur region, but it stopped short of calling the violence genocide.
The UN commission recommended that the International Criminal Court investigate evidence of widespread abuses including torture, rape, killings of civilians and pillaging.
However, independent Peer Lord Alton of Liverpool who recently visited Darfur and has been campaigning for months to have the killings acknowledged as genocide told the Ekklesia news service; "In another resounding example of the UN's impotence they have decided not to risk offending the perpetrators of these atrocities or their belligerent allies."
"The long awaited UN commission on events in Darfur has, in effect, given the government of Sudan permission to continue killing its black African population with impunity. Their report will give encouragement to despotic governments the world over."
"Even though the government of Sudan bombed villages in Darfur as recently as Wednesday January 26th, and despite an increase in violence in Darfur, stopping aid agencies reaching many refugees, the commission does not recommend sanctions against the military dictatorship in Khartoum.
"This is worse than impotent, it amounts to collusion."
"Although the report is a disappointment" he continued, "it is not a surprise".
"Diplomats have repeatedly shown themselves unwilling to criticize the Khartoum regime for fear of jeopardizing the ongoing north-south peace deal."
The United Nations has called Darfur the world's worst humanitarian crisis, saying that some 70,000 of the nearly two million people displaced by the conflict have died from disease and famine. Thousands more were killed in the fighting, though no firm figures exist.
The report detailed a host of violations, including the Sudanese government's failure to protect civilians from rebel attack, use of disproportionate force and attacks meant to force people to flee their homes.
It blamed the government for joining in the attacks and for complicity with the Arab militias, and also accused rebels of massive violence.
"There was no military necessity for the destruction and devastation caused. The targets of destruction during the attacks under discussion were exclusively civilian objects," the panel said.
While the commission was clearly reluctant to pronounce a verdict on the violence, it said many of the worst attacks "may amount to crimes against humanity."
"The conclusion that no genocidal policy has been pursued and implemented in Darfur by the government authorities, directly or through the militias under their control, should not be taken in any way as detracting from the gravity of the crimes perpetrated in the region," the report said.
The commission said the Sudanese government had not pursued a policy of genocide because there was no "genocidal intent" - a push to exterminate an entire group for ethnic, religious or other reasons.
However Lord Alton said: "During my recent visit to Sudan and Darfur I became convinced that securing access to the oil fields in the south seemed to matter more to the international community than preventing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians, and the displacement of two million people."
"A key member of the UN's Security Council, China, owns the lion's share of Sudan's oil industry."
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Further reading at BBC online Feb 1 UN rules out genocide in Darfur where other news sites reporting the story are listed in right hand sidebar.
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Quote of the day
"It's time for the Bush administration to back-pocket its abstract objections to the ICC so justice can be done" - Richard Dicker, Human Rights Watch
[via BBC new online Feb 1 UN urges Darfur war crimes trials]
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Is the Darfur conflict genocide?
BBC News online asks its readers: Is the UN right or wrong to say the atrocities in Darfur is not genocide? A week after the Jewish Holocaust was remembered, is the world doing enough to stop the violence? How could the conflict be ended? Have you been affected personally by the violence in Darfur?
Click here to read the comments reflecting the balance of opinion they have received so far.
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'No genocide' in Darfur but UK urged to take action
The Times in London reports today Feb 1 that Britain and the United States have taken opposite sides in an historic clash over how to mete out justice to the perpetrators of pillage and slaughter in the western Sudanese province of Darfur. Full Story at Times Online Feb 1.
Note the report ends by saying:
The Sudanese ambassador to the UK, Hassan Abdin, told Today: "We are grateful to this international commission for exonerating the Sudanese government of committing genocide. This was the main issue."- - -
UN mistaken in failing to find genocide - Darfur rebels
Darfur rebels said on Tuesday Feb 1 a UN report was mistaken in failing to accuse the Sudan government and allied Arab militias of genocide in the Darfur conflict.
"If this report says there is no genocide in Darfur then we reject this report," Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) leader Khalil Ibrahim told Reuters by telephone from his headquarters in the Eritrean capital Asmara.
"There are hundreds of mass graves that the commission did not go to," he said, adding the decision to stop short of a genocide finding was political.
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Sudan's parliament ratifies peace treaty
Guardian Feb 1 - More than 20 years after fighting began, Sudan's parliament on Tuesday Feb 1 unanimously ratified the government's peace agreement with southern rebels, officially ending Africa's longest civil war.
When the speaker called the "yes" vote, every legislator in the chamber stood up to show approval, according to a live broadcast on state television. Lawmakers clapped and some shouted "Allahu Akbar!" - the Islamic rallying cry meaning "God is Great."