SUDAN WATCH: Amnesty International publishes testimonies from E Chad

Friday, June 30, 2006

Amnesty International publishes testimonies from E Chad

Remember the nonsensical sounding messages from Bin Laden? A few years ago, when I first started reading news reports on Darfur, I noticed that statements by Sudanese people like President Bashir sounded alien, from another planet. To my English born ears, the flow of African and Arabic speech when translated into English, sounded very strange. I found it to be expressive, passionate, flowery, poetic and quaint - from another world. The mindset was quite difficult to understand.

Nowadays, when I read certain reports or verbatim statements by Sudanese and Chadian people (especially uneducated rebels) I notice how their choice of words sound weirdly Western. At times I wonder to what extent Sudanese locals interviewed by Westerners are primed by the rebels. Translators probably convey stories to be understood by Westeners but overall it's the thrust and content that appears to have changed. Placards held by protesting IDPs calling for international troops I guess are geared towards a Western audience. It stands to reason that most of the women in the refugee camps could be related to rebel fighters. A mother, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, cousin, wife, girlfriend, in-law, friend of a friend.

These days I don't believe much of what I read in any one article and am wary of sources. Even religious and aid groups appear to have an agenda when it comes to fundraising for their work. I guess my point is, most news reports actually contain some form of propaganda. Sadly, I now take the following testimonies with a pinch of salt and can't be the only one doing so. People's real voices might not be heard.

Here's another thing. Sudanese rebels have access all sorts of equipment and know-how when it comes to communications technology, you'd think more video or digital camera reports of attacks by GoS forces, Janjaweed and such like would have appeared on our screens by now. Some reports say more than 400,000 Darfuris have perished in Darfur's war. That sure is a lot of bodies and funerals. Where and when are all the bodies buried? I've seen film evidence of two burials, one of a child in Darfur and the other of a man in Chad.

Click here to read some statements by Chadian internally displaced persons, published by Amnesty International 29 June 2006 [via ReliefWeb]. The accounts represent a selection of the testimonies gathered by Amnesty in Eastern Chad in June 2006.

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