Archive for April, 2009

April 24th, 2009

What ARE they doing?

If you have been following the Canadian government’s action on the crisis in Darfur, you might feel that they – like the majority of governments around the world – have fallen short when it comes to taking action on the Darfur. There is no better proof than the fact that this sad situation persists even though the uprising of Darfuri rebel groups, and the corresponding counter-insurgency campaign launched by the Sudanese government, dates back to 2003. We all know that the failure to find a way to stop the atrocities sponsored by the Sudanese government in the Darfur region has been paid for largely with the blood of Darfur’s civilians. If more countries had taken a real stand on this issue, the situation might be very different today.

But for a moment, rather than focusing on what the Canadian government isn’t doing, let’s take a look at what they ARE doing. The following statement, which opens the “Canada: Active in Sudan/ Le Canada à l’œuvre au Soudan” section of the Canadian government’s website, makes it clear that Canada sees itself very much as part of the solution, not part of the problem:

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April 12th, 2009

Toronto Rally for Darfur TODAY!

A RALLY AND CANDLELIGHT VIGIL WILL BE HELD TODAY (April 12) at 7 pm on Queen’s Park South Lawn to urge the Canadian government to take action.

Featuring renowned speakers and performers, including the Honourable Irwin Cotler and Rwandan genocide survivor & musician The Mighty Popo.

As the genocide in Darfur enters its sixth year, it is crucial that Canadians unite to send a message to our government: the people of Darfur require immediate protection and relief and the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity should be brought to justice.


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April 11th, 2009

The Guns of Darfur

John R. Matchim

The conflict in Darfur has been fuelled by a decades long influx of foreign weaponry, ranging from small arms to helicopter gunships. China and the Russian Federation have been the most prominent suppliers of weaponry, but there are and were many other sources, some unknown. This entry will provide some basic background regarding Darfur’s weapons importers and highlight the international nature of the conflict, with both national governments and hidden gunrunners vying for a share of the slaughter’s profits. The plethora of actors and factors involved in the arming of the region highlight the futility of international intervention without real negotiations between the warring factions.

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April 6th, 2009

Attention Ottawa Standers: Rally for Darfur TOMORROW: 7 April 2009!

The rally will begin on the University of Ottawa campus (in front of the Morisset Library terrace) at 1 pm and will proceed to the Embassy of the Republic of Sudan, located at 354 Stewart Street in Sandy Hill. At both the university and the embassy, political and community leaders, members of the Darfuri Community and student activists will speak about the need for public condemnation of recent events on the ground in Darfur. NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Dewar, Sudanese activitst Tragi Mustafa and Darfuri community leader Abdul-Ghaffar Ahmed are confirmed as speakers. 

Our goal is to raise public awareness of the dire and deteriorating humanitarian situation in Darfur following the ICC indictment of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. We will unite to demonstrate our commitment to the people of Darfur, and our hope that Canada will take on a greater role in alleviating this crisis.

The date of the event is of utmost significance, as it is the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda. As we reflect on the international community’s failure to act in Rwanda, we will draw attention to the ongoing crisis in Darfur, which has been described as “Rwanda in slow motion”. The theme of enduring hope will be represented through a constant beating of drums.

For more information, please contact Jackie Bonisteel at Hope to see you there!

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April 2nd, 2009

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Bashir shows his defiance in the face of the International Criminal Court’s warrant for his arrest (Photo from De Welt).

Some recent news coming out of Darfur is that a Sudanese aid worker with Canadian agency Fellowship for African Relief (based in Ontario) has been shot to death. It has been suggested that there is a link with the International Criminal Court (ICC) indictment of Sudanese President Bashir, though at this stage it’s only speculation (UNAMID is investigating the crime). A clearer link can be made between the indictment and the kidnapping about two weeks ago in Darfur of three aid workers, including Laura Archer, a Canadian nurse. Happily, the kidnapped workers were released three days later, but Médecins sans frontières (MSF) had to withdraw almost all of its expatriate employees from the region. This will only compound the already drastic effects of President Bashir’s expulsion of a number of humanitarian NGOs from Darfur in the wake of the ICC indictment.

A dangerous trend is apparent here. There is no justification for transferring anger about the application of international criminal justice to aid agencies. Yet President Bashir has managed to take this position to the extreme with his expulsion of aid agencies from the country. But is it the government or other actors who are behind the latest attacks? World leaders, including the Canadian government, need to make sure that a high-quality investigation is carried out into these latest attacks, to prevent the impunity that already surrounds the expulsion of humanitarian agencies from going any further.

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