Saturday, October 03, 2009
Darfur Crisis: Why has the Obama-Biden Administration Put Pollyana in Charge of US Policy on Darfur?
The Janjaweed are preventing the escape of the displaced, trapping them in the mountains or on trails leading to the desert or country side, leaving them to wander without food, shelter or water. The displaced are often carrying their babies on their back and running with their young children, equipped only with the clothes they have on and little else to defend themselves if caught. Alysha Atma, Today Darfur, Salem-News, 10-2-09
“We've got to think about giving out cookies. Kids, countries, they react to gold stars, smiley faces, handshakes, agreements, talk,” Gration stated. The Damanga Coalition for Freedom and Democracy is extremely saddened by Gration’s proposal and naïve remarks about Darfur and the Sudanese government. Damanga Coalition, 9-30-09
For a range of reasons, Khartoum may calculate that this is a moment in which to accomplish its longstanding goal even as this would precipitate a massive human catastrophe, since adequate security could not, and would not, be provided. Eric Reeves, Redefining Darfur's Agony: A Shameless Betrayal
Darfur Crisis: Why has the Obama-Biden Administration Put a Pollyana in Charge of US Policy on Darfur?
By Richard Power
There is much to focus on.
Once again, Kali dances within the Ring of Fire: devastation from a tsunami in Samoa, devastation from a typhoon in Manila, devastation from a massive earthquake in Padang.
Meanwhile, in Beltwayistan, efforts to address health care and climate change are obstructed at every turn by those who have sold out the people and the planet for filthy lucre.
But I choose, instead, to turn your attention to Darfur.
This is my seventy-ninth post on the crisis in Darfur. And those I have written since the swearing in of President Obama and Vice-President Biden are, in some ways, the most indignant of all.
Because among the hundreds of thousands of deaths in the Hell of Darfur, one in particular stands out, overshadowing all the others: it is the death of conscience.
And unfortunately, the Obama-Biden administration has done little to bring it back from the dead. Indeed, it seems as if they have picked up shovels and started to bury it.
US Special Envoy Scott Gration says some recent remarks (see Darfur Crisis: The Waters of Denial are Too Shallow to Hide the Nakedness of Either Special Envoy Gration or General Agwai, Let Alone Both of Them) were taken out of context. Well, apparently there is an awful lot of context that we all have to carry around in order to accommodate him; much more context, in fact, than his efforts have provided for the protection of Darfuri women and girls as they gather firewood.
Scott Gration is, at best, a Pollyanna.
Consider the facts on the ground:
They strategically attack the villages – bombing, shooting, wielding any brand of weaponry, attacking the villagers and then block the roads and trails leading to the IDP and refugee camps.
Janjaweed and pro militia ride on camels, horseback and trucks terrorizing the citizens of Darfur as they try to flee on foot, blocking their only means of safety.
The Janjaweed are preventing the escape of the displaced, trapping them in the mountains or on trails leading to the desert or country side, leaving them to wander without food, shelter or water.
The displaced are often carrying their babies on their back and running with their young children, equipped only with the clothes they have on and little else to defend themselves if caught.
It is reported the Janjaweed had raped 47 women and girls, 13 of them very young girls.
One girl, age 13 was gang raped by 7 men of the pro government militias – she later died as a result of the trauma, her parents could not get her to El Fasher for medical treatment. Alysha Atma, Today Darfur, Salem-News, 10-2-09
This is Darfur now. Not two or three years ago. Now. Do you understand?
I am confident that you do.
And it is difficult to believe that US Special Envoy Scott Gration doesn't understand. I can only assume, sadly, that his seeming lack of comprehension is willful.
Consider this excerpt from a recent statement from the Damanga Coalition for Freedom and Democracy:
Gration believes that positive cooperation with the Sudanese government is the best way to end the genocide: “We've got to think about giving out cookies. Kids, countries, they react to gold stars, smiley faces, handshakes, agreements, talk,” Gration stated.
The Damanga Coalition for Freedom and Democracy is extremely saddened by Gration’s proposal and naïve remarks about Darfur and the Sudanese government. It is clear that Gration and the Obama administration fail to realize or choose to ignore the severity of the genocide and rampant corruption within the Sudanese government. As fellow Darfur activist John Prendergast bluntly criticized Gration in the report, “They [The Sudanese Government] do not respond to nice guys [like Gration] coming over and saying, 'We have to be a good guest ... they eat these people for dinner.”
It appears that Gration and the Obama administration have no plans to hold the Sudanese government and President Omar Al-Bashir accountable for their crimes against humanity-killing more than 450,000 innocent people thus far. Damanga Coalition, 9-30-09
This is Obama's Special Envoy, not Bush's. Do you understand?
I know Eric Reeves understands.
Consider these brief excerpts from his recent post on Redefining Darfur's Agony: A Shameless Betrayal:
Gration has recently claimed to have been misrepresented in his views on the issue of returns, as well as other issues to which he spoke before the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (July 30, 2009). But in fact notes from two meetings Gration held in Darfur with UN and nongovernmental organizations in July 2009 clearly reveal a push for early returns, a position that caused such deep consternation that these organizations took the highly unusual step of allowing the notes to become public, thereby creating the opportunity to dissociate themselves from Gration’s comments and assessments ...
Sadly, what we have in the efforts of Special Envoy Gration is a deliberate politicization of humanitarian issues in a bid to create a more tractable negotiating party in the Khartoum regime. That Gration is capable of deliberate distortion is clear from a remark he made in his Radio Dabanga interview (September 15, 2009), in which he declares (as he has elsewhere) that, “he never said anything [about] lifting the sanctions and removing Sudan from the list of state-sponsored terrorism.” This is outright mendacity, and a telling revelation of diplomatic character ...
In yet another example of what is either egregious ignorance or an unconscionable expediency, Gration says nothing about what is widely known within the humanitarian community, viz. that resources for girls and women who are victims of sexual violence were almost entirely eliminated with the March 4 expulsions ... Eric Reeves, Redefining Darfur's Agony: A Shameless Betrayal
As always, I encourage you to follow events in Darfur on Mia Farrow's site, it is the real-time journal of a humanitarian at work; the content is compelling, insightful and fiercely independent.
For an archive of Words of Power posts on the Crisis in Darfur, click here.
Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.
Enough Project, Darfur, Sudan Genocide, Eric Reeaves, Scott Gration Mia Farrow