Monday, June 29, 2009

US special envoy Gration's genocide remarks cause storm of protest

From Sudan Radio Service, 22 June 2009:
Gration's Genocide Remarks Cause Storm of Protest
(Nairobi/Darfur) - Representatives of internally displaced persons in Darfur have strongly rejected the US special envoy Scott Gration’s statement last week that what had happened in Darfur is “remnants of genocide”.

For its part, the Sudanese Foreign Ministry expressed the hope that what it described as Gration’s “denial of genocide” in Darfur would be the official position of the US administration.

ABC, a US TV channel, reported that the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, was furious when she was informed about General Gration’s remarks.

The US special envoy to Sudan made the remarks during an on-the-record press briefing in Washington on 17th June. A journalist asked him if he would describe the situation in Darfur now as genocide.
Gration said, “What we see is the remnants of genocide. What we see are the consequences of genocide, the results of genocide.”

His remarks indicate that he is under the impression that genocide had taken place (a point of view that the International Criminal Court was not willing to endorse in its accusations against President al-Bashir when they issued an arrest warrant against him). His answer suggests that he had no evidence that genocide is happening at the moment.

Nevertheless, General Gration’s remarks have sparked a controversy which may come back to haunt him as the partners to the signing of the CPA prepare to meet in Washington to discuss the progress of CPA implementation.

Sudan Radio Service spoke to some IDPs from refugee camps in Darfur on Monday, to ask them what they thought of the special envoy’s statement.

All the IDPs who spoke to us preferred not to be identified.

[Female IDP]: “It is clear that this statement is from a person who is biased to the government side. The law is clear, what is genocide? There is clear evidence which shows that there is genocide in Darfur. When someone displaces more than 29,000 people from only one camp, what do you call that? More than 200 or 300,000 have died. More that 300,000 rape cases. So what do you think genocide is? This is genocide, so from his statement, is clear that he is biased to the regime.”

[Male IDP]: “We think that this is an unacceptable statement from him as US envoy, because what is going on here, we have seen it ourselves and we don’t want evidence or proof from other bodies. We know that it is genocide and that this is happening against the African elements or the blacks, all these special envoys when they come, they meet with the government officials first, that’s why they try to implement their agendas. This is unacceptable statement and it was rejected by all the IDPs.”

[Male IDP]: “According to the UN definition of genocide, nobody needs to tell us that what has happened in Darfur was or wasn't genocide. If you eliminate a whole family, or a certain element completely, this is a clear indication that the government’s strategy was to eliminate all the people here. So the statement by the US envoy was disappointing and painful.”

Those were the views of some IDPs in Darfur who preferred not to be identified.

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