Press Releases


CONFRONTING THE BLOOD IN OUR MOBILES: Conflict Minerals in Central Africa

Announcing Campaign Launch Event for the Conflict-Free Canada Initiative

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


TORONTO, ON – STAND Canada will host a launch event and film screening for its newest campaign: The Conflict-Free Canada Initiative. In collaboration with the Enough Project, Raise Hope for Congo and American Conflict-Free Campus Initiative, STAND Canada will announce its plans to bring the issue of conflict minerals to Canada and a new partnership with New Democrat member of Parliament Paul Dewar. The launch date will be Thursday, March 14, at the Centre for Social Innovation (720 Bathurst St., downtown Toronto), at 7 p.m.; admission is free.

The evening will entail a reception, the screening of a 75-minute documentary, “Blood in the Mobile” and a concluding discussion with keynote presentations, including an introduction by Member of Parliament Olivia Chow of the NDP. In attendance, there will be a wide demographic, including members of Parliament, youth, concerned citizens, Diaspora from the Democratic Republic of Congo, nonprofit representatives, and academics.

“I have been working on conflicts in conflict zones in Africa for 25 years now, but I have never seen anything like the human devastation in Eastern Congo,” said John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project.

The conflict in the DRC has resulted in the death of over 5.4 million people, the displacement of hundreds of thousands more, and has become infamous for countless acts of sexual violence against women, among other grave human rights abuses.

The Conflict-Free Canada Initiative’s campaign launch will bring attention to the conflict minerals trade in the Congo, to which Canadian consumers contribute through the purchase of consumer electronics that are in part made from minerals extracted from Eastern Congo. These include phones and laptops. The mining of valuable minerals essential to technology – like tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold – provides tens of millions of dollars to dozens of armed groups operating in the eastern DR Congo who commit the crimes against human rights in eastern DR Congo.

As was done with blood diamonds, it is imperative to raise awareness and educate Canadians about conflict minerals in order to end this violent trade.

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Founded in 2005, STAND Canada has become the leading national youth-based organization dedicated to inspiring activism and advocacy addressing genocide. Our mission is to make the prevention of genocide a cornerstone of Canadian foreign policy. We believe that Canada should play a key role in responding to genocide in our three focus-areas: Sudan, South Sudan & the Democratic Republic of Congo. With ten university chapters across Canada, and 35 high school chapters, an Ottawa-based advocacy team, and directors from all over the country, our organizational presence is well established with a wide national reach. We provide Canadians with the tools they need to act against genocide and stay updated through our monthly STAND Digest newsletters, petitions, biweekly updates, and annual campaigns.

Media inquiries may be directed to:
Dana Ayrapetyan
Campaign Director
T: (416) 319-2270
E: dayrapetyan@standcanada.org

Download the complete press kit

 


PAST PRESS


Canada’s youth call on Canada to ensure peaceful future in Sudan – January 17, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TORONTO, ON – Youth-based anti-genocide organization STAND Canada called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper today to ensure that the aftermath of Sudan’s referendum is as peaceful as possible.

The referendum vote started on January 9 and will determine whether South Sudan becomes an independent country. Regardless of its result, this momentous occasion additionally grants an open opportunity for Canada to act on an international level.
Elham Bidgoli, STAND’s Principal Director, said that challenges have risen as voting continues in South Sudan.

“The status of the Abyei border state has yet to be resolved, borderlines have not been distinguished, issues regarding citizenship remain at large, and the continuous concern over oil revenue sharing still needs to be properly formalized,” she said. “While US President Obama has appointed a senior, experienced diplomat to deal with Sudan’s North-South issues, Canada has yet to outline a strategy for on-the-ground presence following the referendum.”

A recent recommendation by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development recommended that Canada send a high level delegation to the area following the referendum. STAND applauds the Committee for making this recommendation and strongly urges Prime Minister Harper to implement it as soon as possible.
Bidgoli added that the war in Darfur, in western Sudan, still needs Canada’s attention.

According to a Human Rights Watch report published Jan. 8, there are rising levels of violence. Adding to concern is the state of peace negotiations for the Darfur war. In late December 2010, negotiations between the Sudanese government and Darfur rebel groups were suspended.

“Canadians cannot forget about Darfur,” Bidgoli said. “Focusing on one region of Sudan at a time, to the exclusion of the rest of the country won’t work. To end war and mass atrocities in Sudan, we need to take a whole of Sudan approach.”

Since 2006, Canada has contributed over $800 million for peace, humanitarian assistance, development aid, security and peacebuilding in Sudan and has named Sudan one of their foreign policy priorities. Today, STAND Canada urges the Canadian government to take action in ensuring a peaceful future in Sudan.

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Darfur Candlelight Vigil – March 18th, 2010
Together, Hundreds across Canada will Stand for the Dead

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRESS CONTACT:
LISA PIRES
EMAIL: lpires@standcanada.org

Toronto – March 11, 2010: STAND Canada will be commemorating the lives and stories of those who have died in Darfur, Sudan, in the past seven years of conflict as part of its ‘Stand for the Dead Campaign.’ The candlelight vigil event will be held nation-wide at STAND campus chapters, not only to honour and remember the victims of the Darfur genocide, but also to advocate for those still suffering in the ongoing crisis. For more information on local candlelight vigils, please visit www.standcanada.org.

About ‘Stand for the Dead’ campaign:
It is easy to stop feeling a sense of human loss when death tolls roll past the 300,000 recorded death mark. To address this problem, STAND Canada, the leading organization in Canada for youth led anti-genocide advocacy and activism, has developed ‘Stand for the Dead’ (www.standforthedead.com), a campaign that encourages Canadians to stand for the life of one Darfuri victim of genocide. Beginning in February 2010, Canadians will proudly wear t-shirts with one victim’s name across their chest to give a name to the loss and suffering of one mother, father, son or daughter. The campaign was officially launched on February 1st, 2010 nationally.

A brief history of the conflict:
In the Spring of 2003, rebels attacked Sudanese government military installations to fight against the government’s marginalization of Darfuris. In efforts to end the uprising, the Sudanese government, led by President Omar al-Bashir, admits to assembling “self-defense militias,” but has been accused by the international community of arming Arab militia, known collectively as the Janjaweed, to support the government’s aerial assault with ground attacks.

The Janjaweed are targeting predominantly Darfuri civilians and killing indiscriminately, destroying and burning villages while pilfering all food and supplies, raping women and young girls, and seizing children to force into its army. It is estimated by the United Nations that over 2.7 million people have been displaced by this conflict and are living in refugee camps around Darfur and neighboring Chad. The dangerous situation makes it difficult for humanitarian aid to reach civilians, who continue to perish in camps due to starvation and disease.

While there has been some international response to the crisis in Darfur, the conflict persists, and influential governments, Canada’s included, must be called upon to contribute politically, economically and militarily to help the people of Darfur as the world stands by and watches genocide occur again.

About Stand Canada:
Dedicated to making it easy to act against genocide, Stand Canada helps Canadians remain updated on the current situation in Darfur and provides them with actions they can perform on a daily basis to make a difference. An entirely youth led organization with chapters from coast-to-coast, Stand Canada currently has over forty high-school and university chapters across the country. For more information, visit www.standcanada.org; www.standforthedead.com


Time for action
Ben Fine and Josh Scheinert, National Post
Published: Thursday, March 22, 2007

The ongoing crisis in Sudan’s Darfur region raises a profound question: How does the world community respond to the spectre of genocide? One Canadian group — Stand Canada (Students Taking Action Now: Darfur) — believes it is time for Ottawa to take a leadership role in addressing Khartoum’s crimes against humanity. Stand has asked a selection of prominent Canadian leaders to write in support of the group’s mission. In a feature beginning today, Saving Darfur, the National Post will print their essays, with future entries appearing on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In today’s first instalment, Stand’s directors explain why they believe their cause is so important.

Throughout four years of death, destruction and destitution in Darfur, an estimated 300,000 Darfuris have died, many of them at the hands of government-backed camel-mounted Janjaweed militiamen who are seeking to suppress a revolt centred in the region. Meanwhile, Canada has stood on the sidelines. That must change.

Darfur is on the brink again, and the stability of the entire region is in peril. The threat of genocide, born in Darfur, has spread to eastern Chad. Indeed, the UN High Commission for Refugees recently stated that conditions in eastern Chad are beginning to resemble those that led to the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The Central African Republic has also been drawn into the conflict as refugees and violence cross over its borders.

Other Western nations have begun to act. In the United States, George W. Bush has appointed a special envoy on Darfur. The European Union recently passed a strong resolution demanding action on the issue. Scandinavian nations have announced they are prepared to contribute troops to a proposed UN force. Yet Canada remains inactive.

Darfur presents an opportunity to demonstrate our legacy as a defender of human rights. Our current inaction summons to mind the title of Andrew Cohen’s 2003 book While Canada Slept: How We Lost Our Place in the World. We are sleeping on Darfur.

Canadian action on Darfur should be inspired by the same values that led this country to champion peacekeeping in the mid-20th century and, later, the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, which requires humanitarian intervention in just such cases.

Canada must lead international efforts to resolve the crisis. Our leadership must be directed at creating an environment in which UN Resolution 1706 can be implemented and enforced. 1706 lays out the most comprehensive plan for civilian protection and building a negotiated political settlement in Darfur.

First, we must take the reins of global diplomacy. Our government should lead a group of foreign ministers to help jump-start international action on Darfur. Its objectives would be twofold. First, it would focus global diplomacy on building the political environment required for instituting a robust international protection force to replace the current African Union mission. Second, it would sustain the long-term international commitment to bring the parties to a political settlement in Darfur.

Militarily, Canada has the capacity to lead enforcement of a no-fly zone in Darfur that can prevent Sudan’s air force from continuing its indiscriminate bombings of civilian villages. A rotation of 12-18 CF-18 Hornet aircraft could enforce the no-fly zone and save thousands of lives.

We must continue increasing our aid and encouraging other nations to do the same. Those Darfuris not felled by the bullets and machetes of the Janjaweed and rebel militia are at risk of dying from hunger. International donor fatigue has forced the World Food Programme to predict a shortfall of hundreds of millions of dollars in funds for Darfur. We are a nation with deep pockets; we must dig deeper.

Over the next few weeks, our message will be echoed by those of prominent Canadians who share our viewpoint. The authors all share one thing in common: They believe that as a beacon of peace and freedom we have a responsibility to protect the people of Darfur. It is a responsibility we must not shirk.

- Ben Fine, a student in the faculty of medicine at University of Toronto, is the executive director of Stand Canada (Students Taking Action Now: Darfur). Josh Scheinert, a student at Osgoode Hall Law School, is Stand Canada’s advocacy director.
For more information, visit www.standcanada.org.


Six things Canada should do
Allan Rock and Lloyd Axworthy, National Post
Published: Thursday, March 29, 2007

The ongoing crisis in Sudan’s Darfur region raises a profound question: How does the world community respond to the spectre of genocide? One Canadian group — Stand Canada (Students Taking Action Now: Darfur) — believes it is time for Ottawa to take a leadership role in addressing Khartoum’s crimes against humanity. Stand has asked a selection of prominent thinkers to write in support of the group’s mission. In an ongoing series, the National Post is printing their essays, with future entries appearing on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In today’s instalments, Allan Rock, Lloyd Axworthy and Gerald Caplan explain how Canada can help pressure Khartoum to stop the killing.

Canada is failing the test of leadership in Darfur. As the sponsor and principal advocate of “Responsibility to Protect” — the doctrine that recognizes an international responsibility to protect populations from genocide and other mass atrocities — Canada should be leading a sustained diplomatic and political push to stop the fighting, protect the population and broker a peace pact in Darfur.

The task is more urgent than ever. A United Nations human rights team just called upon the world, yet again, to protect civilians in Darfur from war crimes and crimes against humanity in which the Sudanese government is complicit. The team, led by Nobel laureate Jody Williams, found that Sudan’s government “has manifestly failed to protect the population of Darfur from large-scale international crimes, and has itself orchestrated and participated in those crimes.” The team concluded that “the solemn obligation of the international community to exercise its responsibility to protect has become evident and urgent”.

So how can Canada help? Here are steps we can take immediately.

  1. We should bring together a “contact group” of countries that share our concern, drawing from different regions and political interests, including the League of Arab States. Canada should chair the group, investing political capital and diplomatic energy at the highest levels of our government. The contact group should work closely with the Secretary-General’s envoy to Sudan, Jan Eliasson, in reaching out to important regional actors such as Egypt and Libya, while focusing on two key goals: first, to persuade the Sudanese government to accept a “hybrid” (African Union-United Nations) protective force in Darfur of at least 20,000 troops; and second, to achieve a ceasefire in Darfur, thereby permitting safe access by humanitarian workers and paving the way for a durable peace agreement.
  2. So far as the first goal is concerned, the process of persuasion should involve both “carrots and sticks.” On the positive side, the contact group should start with intensive diplomatic efforts in Khartoum and at the United Nations in New York. It should enlist the help of countries with influence in Khartoum, including China. Sudan’s agreement should be linked to offers of international assistance, and reminders that once it begins to act with decency, it can rejoin the community of nations in which it is now a pariah.
  3. At the same time, it must also be made clear that Sudan’s failure to accept a protective force will have consequences. The contact group must be ready to persuade the Security Council to impose and enforce meaningful measures to show that the world means business. These can include a no-fly zone in the Darfur region, asset freezes aimed at bank accounts held by the ruling party, travel bans limiting international movement by government leaders, and handing over to the International Criminal Court evidence of additional war crimes and the names of suspects. There have been recent signs that an increasingly frustrated Security Council may be open to persuasion that the time for such measures has arrived.
  4. Taking a lesson from the failure of the Darfur Peace Agreement, which was signed by only one rebel faction, the contact group should encourage civil society and all rebel groups in an increasingly splintered Darfur to develop a unified bargaining position in anticipation of eventual peace negotiations. The contact group should offer to convene and facilitate a Darfur Stakeholder Conference to create a setting in which the varied interests can work towards a shared agenda on their side of the table on issues such as power and revenue sharing, disarmament/ demobilization and compensation.
  5. The contact group should encourage support for the deployment to Chad of a UN protective force. Violence in Darfur is undermining regional peace and stability, as refugees stream into Chad, and as related conflicts there and in the Central African Republic threaten to bring down those governments. The deployment of a UN force to Chad can protect the increasingly vulnerable population there while forestalling the descent into lawlessness that has produced the killing fields of Darfur.
  6. In the interim until a protection force is available in Darfur, the contact group must encourage the international community to provide greater support in money, personnel, airlift and logistics for the current African Union force. While insufficient, it is all that exists at present to protect the population of Darfur. Stephen Harper’s government should lead by example by pledging a meaningful contribution of resources now.

Darfur is a crucial test of the responsibility to protect. With Canada’s leadership, the world can show that those words are not just an empty slogan, but are a solemn commitment that we intend to respect.

- Lloyd Axworthy served as minister of foreign affairs from 1995-2000. Allan Rock served as Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations from 2004 to 2006. In this capacity, he acted as Canada’s representative during the negotiation of the May 2006 Darfur Peace Agreement.



Shaking hands with another devil

Gerald Caplan, National Post
Published: Thursday, March 29, 2007

Terrible crimes often create terrible dilemmas. In 1994, for instance, Canadian General Romeo Dallaire had to negotiate in Rwanda with men he knew were organizing one of history’s worst genocides. Negotiations are now going on with the leaders of North Korea, and the world is holding its breath praying that the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the child-molesters of northern Uganda, will return to the bargaining table. There are increasing calls to open talks with elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Dallaire wanted to kill Rwanda’s militant Hutu ringleaders, Bush wanted to take out North Korea’s Kim Jong-Il, many want the LRA leaders to be tried by the International Criminal Court, and Stephen Harper vows never to trust the Taliban. But in every case, “jaw jaw,” as Churchill described it, was deemed a better option than war war. Better to get a deal, stop the horrors being perpetrated, even if it meant granting impunity to monsters.

Does this theory explain why the five permanent members of the UN Security Council have been playing footsie with the Sudanese government of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for the past three years? Does the international community believe that he’ll eventually rue his ways and end his vicious attack on the Darfur region of his country? If so, when do we finally admit that this strategy has failed?

Recall that it was these same five permanent members of the Security Council that repeatedly refused General Dallaire’s pleas for more troops to end the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. As a direct result, as many as a million defenceless Tutsi were killed.

The council recently passed its seventh resolution calling on the government of Sudan to halt the attacks it’s been organizing on the people of Darfur. U.S. President George W. Bush has formally accused the al-Bashir government of committing genocide. The conflict has gone on now since late 2003. Every resolution threatens that the “international community” will intervene in some ill-defined way to stop the carnage — so long as the Sudanese government agrees. Similarly, the failed peace treaty that was drawn up after excruciatingly long negotiations last year was negotiated between the Darfur rebels and the al-Bashir government. “Who else can you negotiate with?” defenders of this jaw-jaw strategy will ask. Yet as everyone involved knows, Sudan’s government has lied about every commitment it’s ever made and has openly shown its contempt for world opinion on every possible occasion.

Darfur is hardly al-Bashir’s first great crime against humanity. As head of his country’s government for the past 18 years, he led a brutal war against southern Sudan that many also labelled a genocide — two genocides in a single presidency, perhaps a world record. An agreement was finally reached in the south, after years of torture, rape, and mass murder by Sudanese troops financed by oil revenues from the south. Yet Sudan’s government has already violated that agreement. So why is al-Bashir still being treated as a party that needs to be accommodated? Enough is enough.

It’s crystal clear that al-Bashir has no intention of stopping his war against Darfur. And that, apparently, is perfectly alright with the Security Council. Behind all the powder-puff resolutions and the Monty Pythonesque threats to pass even more useless resolutions, each member has its own good reasons of national self-interest not to alienate al-Bashir’s government. The Chinese need his oil. The Russians want to continue selling him fighter planes. And the United States is working closely with him on counter-terrorism issues — even while accusing his government of perpetrating a genocide.

Why is Canada not speaking up to decry the shameful opportunism and cynicism of the UN’s permanent five?

Someone may want to remind these governments of the late February ruling by the World Court on the Bosnian genocide of 1995. The court ruled that the Serbian government of Slobodan Milosevic had violated the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and was guilty of failing to prevent or stop the killing at Srebrenica. Milosevic is now dead, of course. But the leaders of the five permanent members of the Security Council are very much alive, actively betraying their responsibility to protect endangered civilians. How will the World Court judge them as they continue to allow the travesty in Darfur to continue?

- Gerald Caplan writes frequently on genocide and genocide prevention.


We can help Darfur
Romeo Dallaire, National Post
Published: Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The ongoing crisis in Sudan’s Darfur region raises a profound question: How does the world community respond to the spectre of genocide? One Canadian group — Stand Canada (Students Taking Action Now: Darfur) — believes it is time for Ottawa to take a leadership role in addressing Khartoum’s crimes against humanity. Stand has asked a selection of prominent thinkers to write in support of the group’s mission. In an ongoing series, the National Post is printing their essays, with future entries appearing on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In today’s instalment, Romeo Dallaire outlines five ways Canada can help improve the situation in Darfur.

Having waited expectantly for the past four years for the global community to come to their aid, the people left in Darfur are entitled to their despair. The world has not come. Still they endure brutal treatment, killings, torture, rape, hunger, illness and unspeakable living conditions, so they cannot be blamed for losing hope. While there is no magic solution, opportunities do exist for Canada to improve the situation in Darfur.

We in the developed world, where basic human rights are touted as sacrosanct at every turn, do not have the moral luxury of averting our eyes from the suffering of the Darfurians as they undergo genocide in slow motion at the hands of a cruel and intransigent Sudanese government. We are obligated by our innate belief that human rights are inalienable to act on behalf of these victims who face the systematic destruction of spirit, mind and body by their own government and its armed proxies.

This is an unbearably frustrating time for human rights activists and ordinary Canadians, particularly our youth, who see the urgent need to act — but cannot act — even as the government in Khartoum stymies international action with ludicrous and legalistic claims of sovereignty. Each time the Sudanese government agrees to take ameliorative action, President al-Bashir hides behind his bureaucrats as they continue to deny visas. Not even humanitarian assistance is permitted past Khartoum’s stubborn resistance to outside involvement. For many here in Canada, moral outrage is sharpened to an even finer point by the Sudanese government’s smug impunity as the carnage continues and the world looks passively on.

No perfect solution exists to address the tragedy, true, but that does not mean concrete action is impossible. Indeed, the “responsibility to protect” (R2P) principle developed by Canada and adopted by the UN demands that we take all possible steps to address the human catastrophe in cases where the government can’t or won’t stop the massacre. The situation in Darfur — where more than 200,000 people have already been killed, tens of thousands of women and girls raped and millions displaced to camps — constitutes the exact conditions envisioned for the enactment of R2P principle. Those conditions become even more pressing when one considers that the violence is increasingly spilling into neighbouring Chad and the Central African Republic.

While armed intervention by Canada against Sudan’s will is not feasible, there are numerous steps Canada might undertake, and for which concerned Canadians should push. As a minimum, we must:

- Take a dynamic lead on the issue. Despite Canada’s unfortunate inability to send troops at the moment, Canada’s Prime Minister should personally raise the issue with his counterparts at every occasion. Notably, he should press the German Chancellor to put Darfur on the agenda at the upcoming G8 Summit in Germany.

- Establish a no-fly zone over Darfur. Prime Minister Harper should press other Western leaders, especially from the U.S. and U.K., to iron out the details of this crucial step. Canada could contribute CF-18s to enforce this zone, significantly reducing the Sudanese Air Force’s ability to harm Darfurians and improving the humanitarian effort in the area. The international community has threatened to enforce a no-fly zone on numerous occasions, so the establishment of one now would boost their badly-damaged credibility.

- Rapidly deploy a UN Mission to Chad and the Central African Republic to restore stability in these countries and prevent the conflict from spreading to the entire region through a mix of military force, humanitarian aid and planning for a regional solution.

- Significantly increase funding to the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) and the massive humanitarian effort, above and beyond the $61-million recently pledged by the Canadian government which simply maintains the unconscionable status quo. The Canadian military can also send trainers, advisors, logisticians and personal and technical equipment to reinforce AMIS’s capability. Darfurian lives can be saved and suffering prevented if Canada and others boost their resources.

- Increase Canada’s capacity to work on the issue. With its expertise in human rights law and practice, Canada should be a leader in the global commitment to address this crisis. To do this, we must increase our commitment of staff at Foreign Affairs Canada, at the Canadian Mission to the UN and at the embassy in Khartoum.

The status quo in Darfur is disgraceful. With the conflict and suffering now spreading into Chad and the Central African Republic, this human catastrophe will quickly deteriorate without decisive action.

- General Romeo Dallaire (ret’d), Senator, was the former force commander of the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda.


Needed: an international Darfur Summit
Saving Darfur
Irwin Cotler, National Post
Published: Thursday, April 12, 2007

The ongoing crisis in Sudan’s Darfur region raises a profound question: How does the world community respond to the spectre of genocide? One Canadian group — Stand Canada (Students Taking Action Now: Darfur) — believes it is time for Ottawa to take a leadership role in addressing Khartoum’s crimes against humanity. Stand has asked a selection of prominent thinkers to write in support of the group’s mission. In an ongoing series, the National Post is printing their essays. In today’s instalment, human-rights expert and former Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler outlines his prescriptions.

The genocide in Darfur continues. It is painful for me to have to write these words yet again. What is happening in Darfur is to our ever-lasting shame: a betrayal of the people of Darfur, a repudiation of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine and an affront to the lessons of history.

It is our responsibility — as I first said three years ago as minister of justice at the Stockholm Conference on the Prevention of Genocide — to shatter the silence, to break down the walls of indifference, to sound the alarm, to stand with the people of Darfur.

Fortunately, as a result of grassroots “Save Darfur” Coalitions such as Stand, the silence has been broken; the R2P doctrine has been adopted; and the Security Council has authorized a UN multinational protection force.

But, while words are important, they are not enough. What is necessary now is immediate international action to stop the genocide.

What is desperately needed is a “Darfur Summit” involving the leadership of the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU), the UN, the Arab League and NATO, convened for the express purpose of putting a “Save Darfur” action plan into effect. If nothing else, the next meeting of the G8 should begin with a Darfur Summit, including invitations to the relevant political actors, such as the AU.

What follows is a recommended action plan whereby Canada, in concert with the international community, can save Darfur. Regrettably, Canada has yet to exercise that necessary leadership. It should do so now, and initiating such a summit is a good place to begin.

1. A hybrid UN-AU multinational protection force must be deployed as quickly as possible to take over from the underfunded and undermanned AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS). Only this UN Force de frappe will have the necessary numbers, mandate and resources to stop the genocide.

The Sudanese government continues to deny that any atrocities are occurring and threatens to withhold its consent for this deployment. But the AU has said it wants the UN force, the UN has authorized the deployment, the evidence of mass atrocities is overwhelming, and, most importantly, the people of Darfur are demanding that it be deployed immediately.

The cause of stopping genocide cannot be held hostage to the perpetrators of genocide.

2. The mandate of the existing AU mission is due to expire at the end of June, 2007. It has courageously stood as the only line of defence for millions of Darfuris. But the AU mission has neither the numbers nor the mandate to stop the killings, and is itself increasingly under attack. Some 400,000 Darfuris have already died (though the media have been repeating for 18 months now the mantra that only 200,000 have died) and some 3.5 million people are in desperate need of assistance. As well as bolstering the AU contingent with a UN Force de frappe, as noted above, the international community should increase its financial and military contributions to AMIS, including military personnel, staff officers, air assets, trainers, logistics, and equipment.

3. The 2005 UN Security Council Resolution demanding that the Sudanese government cease offensive military flights must now be enforced by the immediate establishment of a “No-Fly” Zone. The indiscriminate bombing and burning of villages must end.

4. Sudanese officials responsible for international crimes must be brought to justice before the International Criminal Court (ICC). The recent naming by the ICC of a Sudanese cabinet minister and a senior commander of the pro-government Janjaweed militias as war crimes suspects demonstrates the direct linkage and joint responsibility between the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed for the atrocities in Darfur.

5. The Darfur Peace Agreement — which only a robust UN force can enforce — must not be allowed to unravel.

6. Individual UN Security Council members must directly pressure the Sudanese government to accept an enhanced African and UN protection force, and end its military offensive. China has particular leverage as both the paymaster of Sudan and its largest trading partner. It should end its “profits without honour” — its complicity in genocide — lest the Beijing Olympics risk becoming the Genocide Olympics. Also, members of the AU and the Arab League have strong relationships with Sudan and can be politically effective in ending the Sudanese culture of impunity.

7. Canada should take a leadership role to condition the debt assistance granted to Sudan by international financial institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, on the Sudanese government ceasing its mass atrocities in Darfur. It is shocking that international financial institutions continue with “business as usual.”

8. A major divestment campaign targeting companies that are complicit in the genocide in Darfur should be initiated. For example, Queen’s University has become the first to direct its fund managers to divest its investment, endowment, and pension funds in PetroChina and China Petroleum, two Chinese oil companies that have allowed the Sudanese government to use its revenues to support genocidal acts in Darfur.

9. The UN Security Council, the EU and their individual members must enforce and enhance a set of targeted economic sanctions including travel bans, asset seizures, selected sanctions on the petroleum sector, sanctioning the off-shore accounts of the regime’s commercial entities, and the like.

10. The Darfur conflict has spilled over into surrounding countries. The UN Security Council, with European support, must move quickly to establish a new UN peacekeeping mission with a strong civilian protection mandate in Chad and the Central African Republic, aimed at deterring the movement of insurgent armed groups across the borders. In this regard, the NATO-ready rapid deployment force of some 30,000 troops — together with contributions from Turkey, Australia, Japan and the AU–might be an expeditious way of both augmenting the current AU mission and underpinning the UN force.

As the student posters continue to cry out at the Save Darfur rallies: “If not us, who? If not now, when?”

- Irwin Cotler is the Member of Parliament for Mount Royal and former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada. He is the founder of the Save Darfur Parliamentary Coalition and currently serves as Official Opposition Critic for Human Rights.


Your outrage can save Darfur
Mark Malloch Brown, National Post
Published: Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The ongoing crisis in Sudan’s Darfur region raises a profound question: How does the world community respond to the spectre of genocide? One Canadian group — Stand Canada (Students Taking Action Now: Darfur) — believes it is time for Ottawa to take a leadership role in addressing Khartoum’s crimes against humanity. Stand has asked a selection of prominent thinkers to write in support of the group’s mission. In an ongoing series, the National Post has been printing their essays. Today’s final instalment by Mark Malloch Brown, former deputy secretary-general of the UN, argues that Darfur will be saved only if a critical mass of Western citizens pressure their leaders to act.

There is a campaigner’s dilemma for those seeking to bring an end to the tragedy in Darfur. Public opinion in Canada and around the world is essential to success. People must demonstrate, write to their political leaders, and make their outrage clear. Many have. The dilemma is that we will stay mobilized only if we see results.

A million Americans are now a part of an email network against genocide. American cities have seen demonstrations against the terrible crimes being committed in Sudan. And President Bush has forcefully aligned himself with those demonstrating. But the killing goes on. So what can Canada, or more to the point, you, do?

Campaigns need successes. Instead, as each previous contributor to this series has demonstrated, we get frustration. And that quickly leads to the question: What more can we do? We all have other causes. We have kids’ soccer or ice hockey matches to go to, and community responsibilities to meet. There is a real danger that we will throw in the towel and move on.

So let me first say: Don’t. The crisis of Darfur is far away, and compelling Western national interests are not at stake. Public outrage is therefore a vital spur to action.

As KofiAnnan’s deputy at the United Nations in 2006, I saw the attention paid to Darfur see saw in Western capitals in direct correlation with the scale of public outrage. When public opinion was quiet, Mr. Annan and I felt pretty lonely with just the company of a few like-minded ambassadors and NGOs. But when the West speaks out, progress can be made. This week is a case in point: Yesterday, Sudan officially informed the United Nations it would accept UN attack helicopters as part of a support package for an African Union peacekeeping force operating in Darfur.

Canada does have a special role as the sponsor of the new, and now jeopardized, doctrine of Responsibility to Protect. And Canada knows better than most how to knit together international civil-society action with that of government. The Canadian-championed campaign against land mines remains a model for this kind of combination.

However, Canada and others have to understand the real pressure points for an effective effort. Each time the debate heats up, it seems to migrate immediately to talk of military action: no fly-zones or highly mobile and well-armed UN ground troops. Such proposals would close down vital international humanitarian operations without much prospect of stopping the Sudanese government’s murderous activities. The net result could be even more lives lost.

As in all peacekeeping projects, the right starting point is the political problem not the military solution. This is particularly true now that the conflict has spread into neighboring countries such as Chad, and has become, geographically, a Western Europe-sized disaster.

It would take a lot of gunships to keep such a big area pacified. Instead, we must tackle the conflict’s political roots: a Sudanese government that has grown brazen and rich on the strength of an oil boom. Khartoum is less interested in peace than outsiders assume because peace would force the government to share its oil wealth with its people. Sudan’s government is therefore more likely to be influenced by the prospect of losing that oil income than by the carrot of peace.

This requires more international criminal indictments of Sudanese officials, the kind of banking sanctions that have brought North Korea to the negotiating table, an expanded travel ban on senior officials, and, if necessary, sanctions that prevent the purchase of Sudanese oil. If that is hard to swallow for China and other allies of Sudan’s government, there is a role for a public campaign: a consumer boycott of those allies’ exports until an oil-sale ban is enforced. With the Beijing Olympics around the corner, that is a powerful threat to China. And consistent with my seesaw principle, its diplomats seem anxious to find a solution whenever they see Western public opinion incensed. Finally, there should be a shareholder disinvestment campaign against Western companies involved in the Sudanese oil sector.

But there must be equal political pressure on Darfur rebel leaders who stayed out of the May, 2006 Abuja agreement that was intended to end the conflict. Those governments and NGOs that have influence need to convince all rebel groups to come back to negotiations with the Sudanese government under international auspices. The rebels have blood on their hands, as well.

Finally, peacemaking must be done in partnership with Sudan’s neighbours. That is why the recent Arab League mediation was important. Black Africans are losing their lives and Africa, through the African Union, must also speak out for them.

If these kind of tough political pressures are applied evenhandedly to both sides then there will be a peace for African Union and UN peacekeepers to keep. To get from here to there, politicians from Ottawa to Khartoum need to understand that we, the people, care about this and are not going away until we find a solution. – Mark Malloch Brown is a distinguished visiting fellow at Yale. In 2006, he was deputy secretarygeneral of the United Nations.


Is ‘never again’ a hollow promise?
National Post
Published: Thursday, April 05, 2007

The crisis in Sudan’s Darfur region raises a profound question: How does the world community respond to the spectre of genocide? One Canadian group — Stand Canada (Students Taking Action Now: Darfur) — believes it is time for Ottawa to take a leadership role in addressing Khartoum’s crimes against humanity. Stand has asked a selection of prominent thinkers to write in support of the group’s mission. In an ongoing series, the National Post is printing their essays, with future entries appearing on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In today’s instalment, Father John Walsh and Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz decry the world’s moral indifference toward Darfur.

Never Again. This promise, uttered by many in the in the aftermath of the Holocaust, is smugly repeated, over and over again. Unfortunately, the world has never kept this promise. In the latter part of the 20th century, there have been genocides in Cambodia, Bosnia and Rwanda. In the last four years, 450,000 have died in Darfur, countless women have been raped, and up to 2.5 million people have been driven from their homes and nobody seems to care.

The government of Sudan, along with the Janjaweed militias, continue to act with impunity, and massacre black tribes in the region. A mere 60 years after the Holocaust, the genocide in Darfur is ignored by the international community.

The world’s reaction to this situation is shocking. The bizarre wrangling about whether to define the atrocities in Darfur as a genocide is morally repugnant. Yes, every so often some initiative seems to contain sparks of hope; yet they never seem to ignite a fire under the complacency of the UN. Occasionally, the horrendous stories about what is happening in Darfur are reported on, only to be immediately shuffled off in silence. The genocide continues and the world does nothing, and the United Nations continues to fail humanity. “Never Again” is happening all over again.

Genocide can only occur when there is international indifference. At a conference in Evian in 1938, and at a later conference in Bermuda in 1943, the entire world community refused to help Jewish refugees fleeing from the Holocaust, and the United States refused numerous requests to bomb Auschwitz. (At the same time, the Canadian government’s response to Jewish refugees was “none is too many”.) In Rwanda, Romeo Dallaire begged the UN Security Council for a few thousand soldiers, but was turned down. The tragic result of this international indifference was the slaughter of roughly one million people in one hundred days. Genocides amply demonstrate, as we are reminded by the powerful words of Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” And right now the world is doing next to nothing for Darfur.

The media bears particular blame. Media studies show that in June, 2005, TV news spent 50 times more coverage on the Michael Jackson molestation trial than it did on the Darfur tragedy, and it devoted 12 times the coverage to the tomfoolery of Tom Cruise than it did to Sudanese oppression. Obviously, contemporary media values news about celebrities a lot more than mass murder. If the media actually reported about Darfur responsibly, there would inevitably be a true outcry from every decent human being about this genocide.

Today, we demand change. The United Nations must follow the noble aspirations in its charter and make Darfur its number one priority. The Canadian government must take a leading role in pushing the UN on this urgent issue. The media must put Darfur front and centre; not just once or twice, but rather day after day, forcefully and graphically. And to make all of this happen, Canadians must take to the streets; not just a few hundred students, but rather tens of thousands of people, both bourgeois and bohemian.

On July 10, 2004, the two of us stood together with an interfaith group of clergy in the memorial room of the Montreal Memorial Holocaust Centre. We stood within reach of an urn of ashes, an urn of ashes brought to Montreal from Auschwitz, ashes of the victims of the Holocaust. On that day, we came to protest the genocide in Darfur, to loudly repeat the promise of never again. Our call, in the first year of Darfur genocide, was ignored. The world remained silent, and is still silent today.

In the past, voices uttered never again? and the world remained silent ?. and then there was Rwanda ? and the world stood silent ? and now there is Darfur ? and the silence is deafening. Today, we once again invite every rabbi, priest, minister and imam to join us in preaching the universal religious truth that the Darfur genocide must end today. Tomorrow will be too late.

- Father John Walsh is pastor of Saint John Brebeuf Parish in LaSalle, Que. Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz serves the Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem Synagogue, Cote St.-Luc, Que.

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