What the World
Allows in Darfur
By JOSEPH SCHUMAN
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE
In this season of religious remembrance and amid a host of conflicts already dominating headlines and TV screens, there come reminders today of grand-scale human suffering, genocide no less, that the world is still allowing in Darfur.
Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Bernard-Henri Levy notes that the news from the southern Sudanese region indicates the war there, already three years old, is on the verge of the utmost savagery and horror. "We already knew that villages are being leveled by planes from bases in Obeid and Port Sudan. We knew that the Janjaweed ('armed men on horseback') come, after the bombers, to finish off the survivors by hand," the French celebrity philosopher writes. "We also knew -- as I myself attested in 2001 after a stay with John Garang's guerrilla army -- of the use of mass rape, as in Bosnia, as a weapon of war and conquest." Finally, he says, "we were not unaware of the racist, purely racist, nature of a conflict that no longer has the 'excuse' of a religious war," since both sides are Muslim.
An editorial in the New York Times notes that an attempt last week by the United Nations' top official on humanitarian issues, Jan Egeland, to visit Darfur was rebuffed by the Sudanese government. "With all of the raping, murdering and butchering going on in Darfur, why would Sudan want an eyewitness account from a high-ranking international diplomat?" the Times says. "Where are the Muslims who took to the streets to protest Danish cartoons? Where are the African leaders who demanded boycotts of South Africa?" the Times asks. The Bush administration is now trying to push the U.N. toward further action, but the Times argues that the diplomats are moving too slowly.
Yesterday, Britain and the U.S. called for sanctions against four Sudanese who have blocked peace efforts and violated human rights in the conflict-wracked Darfur region. The four came from a list of 51 that a U.N. panel recommended last year be prosecuted for war crimes, including senior Sudanese officials. The Security Council's sanctions committee has been working on a list of Sudanese responsible for the bloodshed in Darfur. Until now, council members have not been able to agree on any names to put on a U.N. sanctions list, and Monday is the last day for countries to object or the sanctions take effect, the Associated Press reports. "Time is one thing that what is left of the Darfur population doesn't really have," the Times says.
And the latest alarming development spotlighted by Mr. Levy is a frightening warning from Juan Mendez, the U.N.'s special adviser on the prevention of genocide, that a Sudanese policy forcing the withdrawal of NGOs from Darfur "could signal that the regime has embarked on the last stage of its plan, where there cannot and must not be any witnesses." To Paul Rusesabagina, the former hotel manager on whom the award winning movie "Hotel Rwanda" was based, the situation is all too familiar. What's happening in Darfur today, he said last night on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, is exactly what happened ahead of the 1994 massacres in Rwanda when some 800,000 people were butchered "as the world stood by and did nothing."
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