So I am standing with a new acquaintance, a friend of a friend at a social gathering. She recently read about Darfur because of Bashir’s indictment in the news. She seems concerned about Darfur. We start to talk. After a few minutes, it seems she believes it is important to care about Darfur. She wants to know what she can do about it – but she is a busy person and she wants to make sure any action she takes with Stand actually impacts Darfur.
Archive for March, 2009
March 22nd, 2009
March 16th, 2009
USA Today reports that President Bashir is now kicking out every aid group in Sudan within the next year.
I guess once you start, it’s difficult to stop. I worry that this is a slippery slippery slope. And with the entire world caught up in debates over financial stimulus measures, Bashir has a free pass to do what he would like.
This cannot continue. What am I going to do about it? Write a letter, send an email and make a phone call.
What are you going to do about it?
Let me know in the Comments section so that other people can do it too.
March 16th, 2009
The New York Times Nicholas Kristof was among the first journalists to report extensively on Darfur, and his writings contributed immensely to a gradually expanding awareness of the volatile region. However, like many reporters, Kristof described the conflict as a struggle between Arab rulers and ‘black Africans.’ While Kristof glossed over the more complex realities of the conflict, his approach served a useful purpose and was widely emulated by the international press. Matched with ‘genocide,’ the native African versus oppressive Arab rendition offered a badly needed angle. It made Darfur simple. It made Darfur saleable. It made Darfur a war of religion and ethnicity.
When reporters describe the combatants as ‘black Africans’ and Arabs, they imply that non-Muslim native Darfurians are being expelled by foreign Arabs, people totally unlike themselves in culture, language and ethnicity, recent arrivals searching for new lands to conquer. Understanding the conflict in these terms only raises the misconception that the Government of Sudan is not responsible for the violence, that the fighting is waged for localized reasons only. It also reinforces false stereotypes and cultural misunderstandings against Arabs perpetuated and strengthened by other ongoing international conflicts. Encouraging such assumptions, even unintentionally, perhaps threatens to discourage people from believing that a solution can be reached. Put bluntly, it angles the conflict as “just another Jihad.”
It is this misconception that I would like to address here. This entry will only serve to provide a brief introduction, while a forthcoming entry will offer an alternative way for media to report on Darfur that is just as saleable as the current one.
March 14th, 2009
Apparently, the latest must-have fashion accessory for Western countries is…a special envoy to Afghanistan. Now that the United States, Britain, France, and Germany have them, it seems that Canada needs one as well, for fear of being left behind in the race to wield influence on the world stage.
This begs the following question: why isn’t Canada considering the appointment of a special envoy to Darfur or even Sudan? We did, after all, have one, in the person of Senator Mobina Jaffer, who was Canada’s Special Envoy to the Peace Process in Sudan from 2002 to 2006. Why now, when the crisis in Darfur is entering its sixth year, has the momentum on this country seemed to fade in favour of the (it seems) more immediately relevant to our national interest? Perhaps a better question to ask would be how we can make Sudan and the ongoing genocide a national priority once again.
Sudanese President Bashir’s move to expel aid agencies from Sudan in response to the International Criminal Court’s issuing of a warrant for his arrest is a shining example of what a Canadian special envoy to the region could have brought to the table. The UN Security Council flailed about in search of a statement in response to the expulsion, ultimately failing to agree on one. A Canadian envoy could have added his or her voice to that of Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, to publicly speak out against Sudan’s move. A Canadian envoy could have put pressure on the Security Council to enact a strong response to the expulsion. With a special envoy to Sudan or Darfur, Canada would have been in a position to provide a coordinated response to the expulsion of humanitarian NGOs from Sudan. Without one, Canada was just flailing like the rest.