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  • Taking action on Darfur


    by Arif
    14th September, 2006 at 9:10 am    

    As you may be aware, the Sudanese Government is refusing to allow UN peacekeepers to replace African Union troops to protect the people of Darfur.

    They are playing the card that the UN is an agency for imperialism. The African Union says it will leave on 30th September come what may.

    After that the people are at the mercy of Sudan’s Government (and JEM and other groups that pulled out of a peace deal with the Government) to protect them from the Janjaweed. 13000 humanitarian workers are also there to help keep people alive, but may leave if there is no UN protection.

    The Aegis Trust has organised the International Day for Darfur for Sunday, and Amnesty International is supporting the demonstration outside the Sudanese Embassy in London.

    Waging Peace has asked for a minute’s silence outside Downing Street and Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra has written a prayer for them, as has Bishop Desmond Tutu.

    Okay, having done my plug for the peace movement, what do we think at Pickled Politics?

    Is the UN the solution, or extending the AU presence while there are renewed talks with the rebels, or regime change, and who should pay?

    The opposition to the UN seems to have grassroots resonance in Sudan, is that due to propaganda alone, or has the security council squandered its authority.

    Some people are unrepentant (cough Tony Blair) about toppling Saddam Hussein, so should we prepare for the same kind of action against Omar al Bashir, and swallow the consequences? What else do Menzies Campbel, Michael Ancram et al mean when they call on him to get tough on the Sudanese Government?

    Are Muslim organisations clear enough on the Sudanese Government’s war on terror? What can they do to make a difference? Perhaps they would be in a better position to set up new negotiations between the Government and rebels?

    It is a massive humanitarian catastrophe about to get even worse - how should it be brought up the political agenda? I think at least we need to start discussing the arguments, and eventually our emotional commitments might grow to get less lethal solutions.


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    1. fugstar — on 14th September, 2006 at 10:53 am  

      The White (sorry, but you know what i mean) regime of the UN is never gonna help asians, african and south americans in the long term.

      NAM, OIC, AU, Arab League et al have some potential.

      Sudanese political history is too complex for me to properly comprehend, there are so many layers in there, and the indignant whiteboy developmenty discourse simply sucks.

      prayers to the folks over there, all my love to you.

    2. Jagdeep — on 14th September, 2006 at 10:59 am  

      fugstar, you chat like a racist

    3. Leon — on 14th September, 2006 at 11:00 am  

      http://www.blackbritain.co.uk/news/details.aspx?i=2281&c=africa&h=Global+Day+for+Darfur+on+Sep+17+aims+to+put+Sudan+crisis+back+on+the+agenda

    4. bananabrain — on 14th September, 2006 at 11:16 am  

      yeah, the arab league is *really* going to help, like it has helped….. hang on, thinking hard…. nope, can’t come up with anything positive the arab league has ever done.

      the problem can be summed up like this:

      do nothing -> “you don’t care about african lives”
      do something -> “just rearranging deckchairs on the titanic”
      strong intervention -> “you have imperialist designs”
      regime change -> “[whoever] wants to take over the world, this is an attack on islam, yada yada yada”

      the sudanese are counting on the americans being too busy to intervene, the africans being too feeble and the arabs not giving a flying arse. if you’re going to bring racism into it i hardly think the “west” and the un are the only candidates.

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    5. Jackie Brown — on 14th September, 2006 at 11:49 am  

      Bananabrain- I kinda agree with you on this one. HOWEVER I think in light of the whole ‘we are Muslims’ yada yada yada that goes on - it adds validity to the brotherhood claim when Muslims [who do not come from Palestine] make it on to the radar for discussion. Thanks for the link Leon.

    6. Arif — on 14th September, 2006 at 11:51 am  

      I agree with bananabrain that there is a dilemma for any well-meaning western politicians, learning that wars aren’t easy solutions.

      At the same time NGOs are traumatised by Rwanda, and have become much more willing to consider military interventions.

      What would military intervention achieve? I wonder whether a search is on for new places of safety. I mean, say AU/UN/Arab League troops can be found - what would they do? Protect the existing camps forever? Would they relocate people to saftey? Is that not collaborating with ethnic cleansing? Is it not economically unsustainable?

      So there has to be a political solution of some kind: how will the pressure on arable land be sorted out, protecting the rights of nomads and farmers? How will the Sudanese Government have more stake in protecting human rights?

      I assume that incentives have a part to play. There are plenty of carrots and sticks around, I think it matters more that there is some sort of fair solution that the NGOs, UN (esp China and Russia), World Bank etc can get behind and promote using their carrots and sticks. But the stench of imperialism will be there attaching to whoever gets involved if they don’t care about human rights they have more direct responsibility for (Tibet, Chechnya…) Western politicians aren’t the only ones who can be accused of imperialism.

    7. Bert Preast — on 14th September, 2006 at 11:52 am  

      Racism seems to be the clear cause of what’s going on in Darfur. I suspect the black muslims retain some animistic customs are are not viewed as being islamic enough by the Arabs. Of course what they really mean is they’re not Arab enough.

      Sudan is traditionally an Egyptian sphere of influence, but Egyptians being Arabs they’re unlikiely to be viewed as peacekeepers by the locals in Darfur. If the Sudanese government won’t accept a UN force then the only sensible options seem to be:

      1. An AU force funded by the UN.

      2. Looking the other way and pretending it’s not happening.

      3. A military attack giving the Sudanese government a damn good slapping to show them we’re serious.

      I think the first option is the only one likely to do any good - but we have to accept the AU force will have to remain in Darfur at least until the Sudanese government has undergone considerable reforms.

      The third option is what’s really needed, perhaps to empower the southern Sudanese in the national govwernment. But I reckon that would just see a terrible revenge wreaked on the people of Darfur and another civil war in the south.

    8. Jagdeep — on 14th September, 2006 at 12:05 pm  

      If you get a chance read the book ‘We wish to inform you that tommorow we will be killed by our families’ by Philip Gourevitch about the Rwandan genocide and the inaction of the UN there. Even though the UN commander was giving them hour by hour accounts of what was about to happen and what was happening and pleading and begging for help, for various reasons nothing happened. Much more complicated and vexed then ‘whiteboys’ being indignant. It also tells some things about Chirac and France’s role in supporting the Hutus in the name of maintaining Francophone African influence that are very shameful.

      Arif I agree with everything you say.

    9. Chairwoman — on 14th September, 2006 at 12:35 pm  

      The UN is a toothless lion.

      Fugstar, I believe you are mistaken in assuming that it is institutionally racist. I believe it however to be elitist, with the elite being the officers of and the representatives to it. They appear to be the only recipients of its largesse.

      Like communism, the UN is an unworkable ideal. Unfortunately we all have to pay for it.

    10. Leon — on 14th September, 2006 at 12:37 pm  

      What alternatives do people envisage to the UN?

    11. Bert Preast — on 14th September, 2006 at 12:42 pm  

      A UN made of the secular democracies only?

    12. Leon — on 14th September, 2006 at 12:43 pm  

      Interesting idea and how high should the bar be to qualify to be one?

    13. Chairwoman — on 14th September, 2006 at 12:44 pm  

      Leon - Goodness knows, but there must be something that’s better, something that works, something that is for everybody, that doesn’t corrupt, that doesn’t give it’s officials the life of Reilly (whoever he may be), and that doesn’t pass resolutions that no country, with the possible exception of this one, takes any notice of, except to accuse others of not following them. Sorry, that’s a really bad, convoluted, sentence, and I can’t be bothered to fine tune it.

    14. Bert Preast — on 14th September, 2006 at 12:47 pm  

      Leon - that’s the tricky bit. But anything’s better than pretending people like Saddam were on a par with almost any other leader and should have a corresponding voice in world affairs.

    15. Sahil — on 14th September, 2006 at 12:56 pm  

      Well, the UN is supposed to represent the world and that adds people like Saudia Arabia, North Korea, and the USA. That’s where its strength and weaknesses come from, it might have legitamacy, but the members usually never agree on anything substantiative.

      The entire identity crisis of global insitutions is the big craze right now: just look at the IMF, Worldbank, and Doha talks. It seems like multilateralism is dying, maybe people are mistaking it for multiculturalism.

    16. Bert Preast — on 14th September, 2006 at 1:33 pm  

      The problem is that the UN cannot represent the interests of the US, Saudi Arabia and North Korea. Their interests are poles apart and showing no signs of finding compromise. We’ll have a secular democracy UN, and anyone who doesn’t fancy it can join whichever type of international organsiation they feel represents their own interest. It shouldn’t necessarily mean that we have to go to war to make everywhere a secular democracy - instead it will hopefully allow us to ignore those who aren’t.

      I’ve got to keep a lid on this wishful thinking sometimes.

    17. The Common Humanist — on 14th September, 2006 at 1:56 pm  

      The virtual silence by poltical Islam on Darfur looks pretty appalling to these eyes.

      I thought the Ummah was worldwide and not ‘well, world wide but the black bits’.

      Shameful.

      Radio Five couldn’t find a representative from MPAC, MAB or the MCB to discuss Darfur a few months ago.

      Having said that UN and the richer nations (Yes, that includes Indonesia and Malaysia) need to get their skates on and DO SOMETHING!

      Mind you if the UN did pull togeather a force and start saving african lives I rather suspect the usual ‘Anti War’ crowd would start bleating about a worldwide attack on Islam, imperialism etc etc ad nauseum till the body count reaches 2 million.

      Mad world we inhabit.

    18. BevanKieran — on 14th September, 2006 at 2:01 pm  

      Are Muslim organisations clear enough on the Sudanese Government’s war on terror?

      After checking the MCB website, I think they have take the Gallowegian position of acknowledging that there is suffering, but can’t bring themselves to condemn the government of Sudan.

      The protest is this Sunday and pickler’s attendance would certainly make a difference, as the last two protests garnered 100 and 150 people. As easy as it would be to criticise stoppers for their indifference to larger crimes comitted by people who aren’t Israeli, British or Americans the media’s role in providing the impetus behind popular movements for protests, especially when dealing with foreign affairs, is crucial. This the reason why hundreds marched and against sanctions in Iraq, which received minimal coverage in Western media, in contrast to the million or so who marched against the war in Iraq.

    19. BevanKieran — on 14th September, 2006 at 2:13 pm  

      By the way, as much of a verbal bashing organisations such as MCB, MAB and MPACuk deserve for ignoring Darfur, should we be looking solely at Muslim organisations to provide the impetus for protests etc. That supports a worryingly parochial ethnic/relgious group based approach to politics which we should be fighting against. In other words would the cause of Darfurians been best served by a reactionary black equivalent of the MCB (i.e a Ligali type organisation interested in foreign affairs instaead of T.V). Disturbingly, I think this would have.

      The much bigger question is why after the platitudes of “Never Again” after Rwanda, which was a badly reported then as Darfur is now, media organisations have largely turned a blind eye, or certainly not proceeded with weight of coverage where it becomes part of the national conversation, as the build-up to the Iraq war did.

    20. Chris Stiles — on 14th September, 2006 at 2:15 pm  

      On the question of Sudan, the Arab League have been worse than useless. They have consistently acted to block all talk of sanctions against Sudan, have variously issued statements in support of Sudan and tried to delay any action against the regime in Khartoum.

    21. Jackie Brown — on 14th September, 2006 at 2:19 pm  

      “for various reasons nothing happened. Much more complicated and vexed then ‘white boys’ being indignant”—

      Jagdeep I promise to borrow or buy the book you mentioned. Thanks to your tip I read the interview an Interview w/ the author P. Gaureviteh. I’m not sure it *IS* more nuanced than that-preparhs we could replace ‘white’ with ‘rich’. Would we really care about Sadam’s atrocities if there was no oil there? If Sudan has as much oil as Iraq would we care more? To paraphrase [P.Gaureviteh] it comes down to political will. Which of course leads to “what’s in it for me?”

      http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/evil/interviews/gourevitch.html

    22. BevanKieran — on 14th September, 2006 at 2:28 pm  

      Jagdeep

      Another interesting book on Rwanda, the biography of Romeo Dallaire “Shake hands with the Devil” convinced me of several things. Humanitarian intervention under the label of the U.N, has to involve one country whose national policy is in coincedence with that of the U.N, akin to the action of the U.S and U.K in Iraq and Afghanistan (err…if they had U.N approval for the former). The force Dallaire lead was comprised of Bangladeshis, Belgians and Ghanians. Whilst the latter were praised for their competence, underfunding comprimised their to undertake the task as it did for the whole mission. The primary criticism levelled at the first two was that neither were interested in carrying out the mission; they both saw it as training missions, exemplified by the Belgians profligacy in their use of ammo and the Bangladeshis following the chain of command back to Dhaka rather than Dallaire.

      The role of the media is vital. Rwanda, at no stage of the conflict, during the deteriation of the Arusha accords and while the genocide occurred was never at the top of the news agenda, the situation in the Balkans (a ghastly voyeurism) and the upcoming elections in South Africa were.

    23. Arif — on 14th September, 2006 at 2:38 pm  

      Just to point out that Sheikh Mogra, whose prayer is linked to above, is from the MCB. I’d be interested to know what people think of what he has written.

      I’d also say that the UN is what governments decide to make of it. There is nothing in it that stops secular democracies setting up their own organisations for their own purposes. And if they did set up such a group, any intervention it undertook among non-members would be much easier to suspect of imperialism than the UN. For me it is not the membership, but the power imbalances (Security Council permanent memberships, as well as differences in lobbying resources) which make the UN prone to accusations of imperialism.

      When it comes to values, the UN Declaration of Human Rights and othe UN conventions are a good start and maybe those States which want to promote global morality should do so by commiting to those conventions being backed up by their domestic laws and by the International Criminal Court.

    24. The Common Humanist — on 14th September, 2006 at 2:45 pm  

      **should we be looking solely at Muslim organisations to provide the impetus for protests etc. That supports a worryingly parochial ethnic/relgious group based approach to politics which we should be fighting against.**

      No we shouldn’t but given the level of protest and anger over the Israeli/Palestinian conundrum I would have thought that, given the protestations about a worldwide community of muslims and that action against fundamentalists being labelled (however wildly inaccurately) as an attack on all muslims that there would be outrage at 400,000 dead - even if the perpetrators were fellow muslims. Clearly that isn’t the case.

      Perhaps somewhat naiviely I had thought that within the Ummah racism would be reletively rare - especially with so very many dead.

    25. Leon — on 14th September, 2006 at 2:50 pm  

      Well said Arif in post 23.

    26. Barbara Meinhoff — on 14th September, 2006 at 2:55 pm  

      A blatant plug:

      http://solanas.blogspot.com/2004/11/pop-jihad-band-aid-20-stars-unite-in.html

      Pop Jihad!
      Band Aid 20 stars unite in call for armed struggle in Darfur.

      There were emotional scenes today as top popstars from the British music industry came together to record a new version of “Do They Know it Christmas (death to the theocratic regime)”.
      “One thing has become clear, dead Janjaweed don’t rape”, said top female popster Dido, known for her easygoing female-oriented post-modern danced infused AOR songs such as “Thank You” and “Life for Rent”, which have become favourite soundtracks in chain retailers such as Ikea and Gap.
      Referring to the armed Arab Militias accused of committing atrocities in the Darfur region as “Murderous Islamo-fascist Cunts”, the singer then pointed to fellow popstars Will Young and Lemar, who were planning to fly out to the war-torn region in the near future to institute training camps to train the Black African peoples of the southern Sudan in guerilla warfare techniques “What we need”, said Pop Idol winner Young, “Is a black Jihad. If my help in setting up more effective means of armed struggle for the peoples of Sudan have any success in slaughtering bands of armed thugs, then me Bredren Lemar and I and I will have fulfilled our civic duties as human beings from the beautiful land of our forefathers birth.
      Comrade Lemar then spoke eloquently of the desire to end the ‘Black-on-Black’ violence of street gangs in South London and unite them in combatting the genocide currently being alleged in the area. Singer Lemar, whose most recent single “If There’s any Justice” was a poignant plea for self determination of the West Saharan peoples of Morocco to a musical accompaniment reminiscent of “Would I Lie to You” by Charles & Eddie, then commented that he ‘wouldn’t be surprised’ if the recently publicised peace talks between the Sudanese government and the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) were another stalling measure by the government enabling the military to continue with their genocidal policies against the black African communities in the area, and that, intriguingly, ‘it was only a matter of time’ before the centres of power in the North of the troubled country ‘came to know the horrors of suicide bombing and devastation they have inflicted on others, such is the way of things’.

      The comments came in response to recent criticisms of the Band Aid 20 by listeners, charity workers and virtually all of the music buying public, whose general concensus was that the venture was a mish-mash of musical styles aiming to appeal to everyone and yet pleasing no-one, and worse, that the lyrics were mawkish bordering on the offensive and over-simplified the problems of debt, poverty, financial mismanagement, corruption, disease and natural disaster in the continent into sentiments over Christmas designed to induce guilt rather than awareness in buyers and smug self satisfaction in those involved in the recording.
      “Yes, Yes, that would have been the case if we were only doing this to raise money for Band Aid” Stormed former S Club Seven singer Rachel Stevens, “Of course you’re only going to get over-earnest wankers like Bono and the insufferable Chris Martin emoting badly if the money is just going to go for Band Aid”, replied the pop temptress, “I mean, look at that fucking turncoat Martin, now the little shit is trying backpedal furiously now saying that he thinks its a bad idea, but that’s coz he’s a snivelling little chickenshit who’s never seen hardcore action in the field. I half expected him, with his clenching desire for beatification, to be one of those who was the first to be oh-so-caring and angst-ridden at first, even in the first tranche to sign up for the recording of Band Aid 20, and then come over all Pussy when he realises his precious reputation as an allegedly serious artiste who’s read Noam bastard Chomsky gets compromised when he gets associated with the likes of Robbie Williams (estimated Net worth, £80 Million). Admittedly, Williams is a cunt, but his experiences in fighting with the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda in the early 90′s with Take That provided valuable insight into what myself and sister Jamelia will need to watch for when we start running radical feminist teach-ins for the mums and little kiddies in the refugee camps”.
      Jamelia, who signed a £250,000 sponsorship deal with Reebok the day after the recording, then commented that if ‘Che were still with us’, Martin would have been ritually disembowelled as a traitor to the people, and that the Sportswear manufacturer had kindly agreed to provide free trainers and casual sportingwear to the armed resistance fighters who would soon be unleashed upon the Arab Militia men.
      The revelations come in the aftermath of organiser Bob Geldworfs decision to finally allow MOR Irish Boy Band Westlife to finally perform the song. Geldworfs initial reluctance, hilariously thought to be because they were ‘too commercial’ and so might end up selling too many versions of Midge Ure’s 1984 song, (whereas those invited to perform were felt to be able to give a deeper sense of feeling to “Put your arms around the world at Christmastime” and “The Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom”), was greeted warmly by Young, “The Bhoys know what they’re talking about”, said the wide faced crooner, who mysteriously mentioned that their ‘friends in Colombia and the homeland’ would produce ‘FAARCing great results’.

      The single is released on 29th November.

    27. Babs — on 14th September, 2006 at 2:56 pm  

      http://solanas.blogspot.com/2004/11/pop-jihad-band-aid-20-stars-unite-in.html

      Pop Jihad!
      Band Aid 20 stars unite in call for armed struggle in Darfur.

      There were emotional scenes today as top popstars from the British music industry came together to record a new version of “Do They Know it Christmas (death to the theocratic regime)”.
      “One thing has become clear, dead Janjaweed don’t rape”, said top female popster Dido, known for her easygoing female-oriented post-modern danced infused AOR songs such as “Thank You” and “Life for Rent”, which have become favourite soundtracks in chain retailers such as Ikea and Gap.
      Referring to the armed Arab Militias accused of committing atrocities in the Darfur region as “Murderous Islamo-fascist Cunts”, the singer then pointed to fellow popstars Will Young and Lemar, who were planning to fly out to the war-torn region in the near future to institute training camps to train the Black African peoples of the southern Sudan in guerilla warfare techniques “What we need”, said Pop Idol winner Young, “Is a black Jihad. If my help in setting up more effective means of armed struggle for the peoples of Sudan have any success in slaughtering bands of armed thugs, then me Bredren Lemar and I and I will have fulfilled our civic duties as human beings from the beautiful land of our forefathers birth.
      Comrade Lemar then spoke eloquently of the desire to end the ‘Black-on-Black’ violence of street gangs in South London and unite them in combatting the genocide currently being alleged in the area. Singer Lemar, whose most recent single “If There’s any Justice” was a poignant plea for self determination of the West Saharan peoples of Morocco to a musical accompaniment reminiscent of “Would I Lie to You” by Charles & Eddie, then commented that he ‘wouldn’t be surprised’ if the recently publicised peace talks between the Sudanese government and the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) were another stalling measure by the government enabling the military to continue with their genocidal policies against the black African communities in the area, and that, intriguingly, ‘it was only a matter of time’ before the centres of power in the North of the troubled country ‘came to know the horrors of suicide bombing and devastation they have inflicted on others, such is the way of things’.

      The comments came in response to recent criticisms of the Band Aid 20 by listeners, charity workers and virtually all of the music buying public, whose general concensus was that the venture was a mish-mash of musical styles aiming to appeal to everyone and yet pleasing no-one, and worse, that the lyrics were mawkish bordering on the offensive and over-simplified the problems of debt, poverty, financial mismanagement, corruption, disease and natural disaster in the continent into sentiments over Christmas designed to induce guilt rather than awareness in buyers and smug self satisfaction in those involved in the recording.
      “Yes, Yes, that would have been the case if we were only doing this to raise money for Band Aid” Stormed former S Club Seven singer Rachel Stevens, “Of course you’re only going to get over-earnest wankers like Bono and the insufferable Chris Martin emoting badly if the money is just going to go for Band Aid”, replied the pop temptress, “I mean, look at that fucking turncoat Martin, now the little shit is trying backpedal furiously now saying that he thinks its a bad idea, but that’s coz he’s a snivelling little chickenshit who’s never seen hardcore action in the field. I half expected him, with his clenching desire for beatification, to be one of those who was the first to be oh-so-caring and angst-ridden at first, even in the first tranche to sign up for the recording of Band Aid 20, and then come over all Pussy when he realises his precious reputation as an allegedly serious artiste who’s read Noam bastard Chomsky gets compromised when he gets associated with the likes of Robbie Williams (estimated Net worth, £80 Million). Admittedly, Williams is a cunt, but his experiences in fighting with the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda in the early 90′s with Take That provided valuable insight into what myself and sister Jamelia will need to watch for when we start running radical feminist teach-ins for the mums and little kiddies in the refugee camps”.
      Jamelia, who signed a £250,000 sponsorship deal with Reebok the day after the recording, then commented that if ‘Che were still with us’, Martin would have been ritually disembowelled as a traitor to the people, and that the Sportswear manufacturer had kindly agreed to provide free trainers and casual sportingwear to the armed resistance fighters who would soon be unleashed upon the Arab Militia men.
      The revelations come in the aftermath of organiser Bob Geldworfs decision to finally allow MOR Irish Boy Band Westlife to finally perform the song. Geldworfs initial reluctance, hilariously thought to be because they were ‘too commercial’ and so might end up selling too many versions of Midge Ure’s 1984 song, (whereas those invited to perform were felt to be able to give a deeper sense of feeling to “Put your arms around the world at Christmastime” and “The Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom”), was greeted warmly by Young, “The Bhoys know what they’re talking about”, said the wide faced crooner, who mysteriously mentioned that their ‘friends in Colombia and the homeland’ would produce ‘FAARCing great results’.

      The single is released on 29th November.

    28. funkg — on 14th September, 2006 at 4:49 pm  

      Man,

      You guys must have time on your hands to write all that ‘pop idol stuff’ get back to work!
      Can we be certain that the atrocities occuring in sudan is purely Arab Muslims v blacks Muslims and Christians?s When I saw the reports on TV the predominatly ruling class looked more African than Arab. I think think there are other agendas involved when I hear black organisations call this genocide against Africans. Besides what nation does organisations such as ligali and its ilk represent? None, it has no army, no organised religion, no major backers.

    29. Bert Preast — on 14th September, 2006 at 7:43 pm  

      Arif wrote: “I’d also say that the UN is what governments decide to make of it. There is nothing in it that stops secular democracies setting up their own organisations for their own purposes. And if they did set up such a group, any intervention it undertook among non-members would be much easier to suspect of imperialism than the UN. For me it is not the membership, but the power imbalances (Security Council permanent memberships, as well as differences in lobbying resources) which make the UN prone to accusations of imperialism.

      When it comes to values, the UN Declaration of Human Rights and othe UN conventions are a good start and maybe those States which want to promote global morality should do so by commiting to those conventions being backed up by their domestic laws and by the International Criminal Court”

      I didn’t say secular democracies were not a problem in the UN - the powerful ones, just as the powerful dictatorships, will ignore it when it suits them and no one can stop them. That’s why the big players need permenent seats on the security council. In an ideal world lobbying resources should not leave Tonga and India with an equal voice - the countries with the larger populations should shout louder to comply with the UNDHR. However, that would leave an Indo-Sino alliance able to boss the world about and there’s no way I for one am ‘aving that. Perhaps it is possible though if the only population that’s counted is the over 60s?

      Part of the point of a secular democracy only UN would be to enable it’s members to ignore what goes on in other societies. We can trade, as I’m a believer in free trade, but that’s as far as it goes. If others want to join up they have to become a secular democracy under their own steam, and if they don’t they can’t bleat about imperialism anymore.

      The UNDHR is also a favourite of mine, and one of the biggest mistakes the UN made was being too frightened to get it signed and ratified by all states. Even worse, I believe it hasn’t even passed comment on those states who showed their contempt for the document by signing up for the declaration on human rights in islam. To my mind if you can’t even pretend to go along with the UNHDR, you can’t expect the UN to take your complaints seriously.

    30. Tasneem — on 14th September, 2006 at 7:57 pm  

      I beg to defer on OIC, Arab and League having “some potential” while UN is played as an “agency for imperialism”. Both the organisations are worst possible lackeys of imperialism. UN may be considered “racist” for some of it’s actions, but to go by its charter, it does try to appear as the “world body” unlike OIC/AL. An anecdote on OIC/Arab League:

      http://www.iwrnews.org/tasneem/archives/three-men-and-a-woman

    31. BollywoodScum — on 14th September, 2006 at 11:01 pm  

      George Clooney on the news channels pleading with the UN to intervene.

      George Clooney fricking ROXXXXXXXXX

    32. nyrone — on 15th September, 2006 at 11:50 am  

      Babs @27

      Best posting about anything ever in recorded history.

    33. Leon — on 15th September, 2006 at 3:07 pm  

      http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/group_post/2006/09/post_389.html

    34. Sid — on 15th September, 2006 at 4:32 pm  

      I might go to that even if Prick Cohen is a signatory.

    35. tim — on 17th September, 2006 at 10:27 am  
    36. BollywoodScum — on 17th September, 2006 at 1:18 pm  

      I might go even if that cretin Siddarthur is going

    37. Bert Preast — on 17th September, 2006 at 2:58 pm  

      Nice one Tim. :D

      I got an access denied message when I clicked the link, but it works fine if you cut and paste it.

    38. sonia — on 17th September, 2006 at 4:01 pm  

      whats the White Regime of the UN fugstar?

    39. sonia — on 17th September, 2006 at 4:26 pm  

      a nightmare situation. i can’t see that there are too many ‘straightforward’ answers. r

      i’ve always thought the attitudes expressed to me by quite a few ‘Arab’ muslims rather bizarre - there seems to be a mad scramble to deny any ‘African’ roots. i mean - why? its this whole ‘black’ thing like we have in the indian sub-continent - oh who’s darker than whom, when everyone’s a bit dark! particularly with my sudanese friends who largely were at great pains to point out they weren’t ‘african’. at the time i thought it was pretty funny since sudan was in africa and that makes them african but later realized there were referring to some sort of ethnic ‘divide’ in their country. I think personally that the fact that so many Arabs are fond of thinking of themselves as ‘white’ encourage people who’ve mixed in with Arabs and aren’t so ‘white’ to become self-conscious. * or so it appeared from my experience of growing up in the Middle east*

      a lof of fuss about silly things like skin colour..isn’t that nice and materialistic..

    40. sonia — on 17th September, 2006 at 4:33 pm  

      Perhaps what we need is a pledgbank style system whereby we get 3 million or so hippie peace types with some food and blankets to descend on Darfur. ( okay there may be some problems with visas..) I’m thinking size matters…what are these nasty janjaweed fellows going to do in the face of a million hippies ..we can crowd them out. maybe give them some ganjaweed to calm them down as well.

      of course the reason why it would have to be a pledgebank style thing is it wouldn’t work if there were only 3 people who signed up or something. only if there’s masses of people!

    41. sonia — on 17th September, 2006 at 4:35 pm  

      with regards to my post no. 39 - to clarify ‘arab’ muslims and africa i was thinking primarily egypt and sudan.

    42. Jackie Brown — on 17th September, 2006 at 5:31 pm  

      ^Good stuff Sonia. It’s sad really when people hold unto these attitudes they are just buying into the status quo. White=good, Black=bad- the more you can identify with the former the ‘better’ you are.

    43. BevanKieran — on 18th September, 2006 at 9:04 am  

      Went to the march. About 2000 people turned up at a guess, at least half were Darfurian refugess. Number of British Asians who attended, excluding my dad and I, could be counted on the fingers of both hands, with a few chopped off.

      Sonia

      One of the speakers, an incredibly beautiful lady from Rwanda, made two comments related to your posts.

      Are black lives worth less than white ones?

      Are black lives worth less than arabs?

      I think the difference in attendance for the Israel-Lebanon march and genocide in Darfur is an indication that the latter statement is true. The first one is a given.

    44. Arif — on 18th September, 2006 at 10:38 am  

      I saw a few Asians, but not many. Most participants seemed to be black African, and that did not surprise me. But I wonder if this was the same in New York and elsewhere and what the coalitions are in this campaign. I guessed the number I saw was about 1000 but, compared to BevanKieran, I wasn’t at all the right places at the right time to tell. From the Sudanese Embassy, to Downing Street to other parts off Whitehall…. I got lost in a sub-group most of the time.

      Still I saw one TV crew (Islam Channel) and there was a peaceful mix of religious and cultural groups taking part. The idea of wearing blue berets was quite effective (especially when aunties wore them over their chadors - they’d make the most effective peacekeepers any day), and they helped me find different bits of the demo when I got confused!

      It felt a little bit hopeless, despite being supported by Blair, Albright et al. This is a cause which has wide verbal support, but little street passion. But I think that it isn’t so much to do with skin-colour/ethnisity (although I do reckon that is part of it) as to do with TV invisibility. When we have the TV pictures and passionate debates that this issue surely warrants, then I think it would be harder to brush off our consciences.

    45. Chairwoman — on 18th September, 2006 at 11:11 am  

      Sonia - I think you’ll find that most Egyptians don’t consider themselves African. But then most of us aren’t ‘English’ either.

      I agree with Arif on this one. It’s not a skin colour/ethnicity issue, at least not in the UK. Darfur is basically the baby of the Guardianistas. Obviously it’s not sexy enough for MSM.

    46. sonia — on 18th September, 2006 at 11:17 am  

      i don’t think who shows up at protests has much to do with people thinking black lives are worth less. people who think that are not the sort to go to peace marches in any case! some may be off putting their ideas into practice somewhere else ( e.g. darfur) the media has a big role to play in this.

      in any case most of us generally conform to some thing or other - tell us to worry about sth and we will. tie it to patriotism and nationalism and people’s ideas of ‘fair society’ and chances are it will be even more successful. ( well it worked with the iraq war didn’t it) and seems to do well in the US with the whole moral policemen thesis.

    47. sonia — on 18th September, 2006 at 11:21 am  

      chairwoman - most egyptians don’t consider themselves african - precisely! :-) which is how one finds out about such ideas of ethnic divisions. in kuwait where i grew up with a lot of people from egypt and sudan, both of which are in africa. i generally refer to myself as asian ( another interesting point - most arabs don’t consider themselves ‘asian’) as i think of asian referring to ‘from somewhere in the vast continent of asia’ and similarly Africa pertaining to the continent of Africa. found out very quickly from my egyptian mates that they definitely weren’t ‘African’ as that referred to ‘black people’ in their mind. I lived in Zambia till i was 7 before i moved to the Middle East so ‘Africa’ to me included many different things - not just a concept of ‘black people’. Of course it’s interesting to study how different people have different perceptions and classifications etc.

    48. sonia — on 18th September, 2006 at 11:25 am  

      what’s interesting particularly is how people define themselves and how they negotiate other people’s view of them.

      For many of my Sudanese friends, the fact that so many people thought they were black ( in particular other Arabs some of whom are capable of being extremely racist) was something that seemed to spur on the anti-black thing even more. trying to ‘distance’ oneself i guess.

    49. Jai — on 18th September, 2006 at 11:36 am  

      I remember the actress Laila Rouass commenting about being “African” when she was giving an award on the stage at — I think — the MOBO awards a couple of years ago (her father’s Moroccan, I believe, although her mother’s Asian). I wondered what the predominantly black audience thought of her statement, considering that she looks pretty hardcore Asian (some of our more outspoken Indian friends on a certain American desi blog would violently disagree, based on recent experiences there, but at least those of you in the UK will understand what I mean).

      ******************************

      Anyway…..

      Was I mistaken, or were there no Sikh or Hindu representatives yesterday when that multi-faith group gave their statements about Darfur outside 10 Downing Street ?

    50. Kismet Hardy — on 18th September, 2006 at 11:48 am  

      Laila Rouass is from Pakistan, through and through. It’s the ‘I have exotic leneage’ curse that some celebrities suffer from, most famously Jas Mann from Babylon Zoo who tried to convince us that a Sioux Indian had got jiggy with Sikh great grandfather.

      I fucking hate Asians that bang on about how they have Italian or, the classic, Persian blood in them

    51. justforfun — on 18th September, 2006 at 11:57 am  

      Sonia - snap - Lusaka or the copperbelt? I was there from the mid 76 till early 81. Best days of my childhood.

      Just as an aside - didn’t Gaddafi just recently say that something along the lines that Libya was no-longer an Arab country but African? but then he is so out there!

      Justforfun

    52. sonia — on 18th September, 2006 at 12:03 pm  

      justforfun - small world :-) I lived in Lusaka from 1978 till 1984.. best days of my life too!

    53. Kismet Hardy — on 18th September, 2006 at 12:11 pm  

      Gaddafi also said Shakespeare was an Arabian. And that coca cola should give Africans money for stealing their plants

    54. BevanKieran — on 18th September, 2006 at 12:23 pm  

      Arif, agreed.

      In contrast to the Feb 2003 protest, when the Dail Mirror lead with the first few pages urging people to go, yesterday it covered the refusal of ITV to let Gabby Logan participate in Strictly Come Dancing.

      There are a ton of issues to come out from yesterdays march. I think in the absence of support from the wider media, organisations such as STWC (hmm..expected and it kind of is outside their remit), and trade unions (a bloody disgrace) it shows how difficult it is to get people out for protests, even against genocide. The efficacy of A.I in translating what one assumes is a substantial e-mail list to ground action is a matter for debate.

      Really, how hard should it be to build a coalition against genocide? Where was the support from Temples, Mosques, Synagogues and Churches? I guess this ties in with the issue of MSM again, and the control of MSM is helping or hindering popular movements, especially dealing with issues thousands of miles away, is utterly, utterly depressing.

      In the case of the response to genocide (in terms of protests), I would refer Asians by our race rather than religion, as it should be something which garners cross-religous (and non-religous) support. I shall however refer to one line in the literature of the MAB for the forthcoming protests on the 23rd.

      “Stop killing (to Blair) our children

      Palestine-Iraq-Lebanon”

      The MAB had an opportunity to tell the Sudanese
      (those in the embassy) to stop “killing our children in Darfur” yesterday but declined. Racism?

      The blue berets were a neat touch. It was a dignifid protest. This was largely due to attitude of the Darfurian refugees; indignation, expressed with chants of U.N action, stopping the killing and raping and for people like President Bashir to be prosecuted in the ICC. Given that many have lost relatives in the genocide, they did not chant obscenities, killing for the other, burn effiigies etc, putting the non-Darfurian participants in a position of having to excuse or stand idly by (e.g going to an anti-war protests where someone has an Israeli flag with a swastika, and you try to persuade them politely to put it away instead of shoving it up their arse) or something like this gem:

      “We socialists had a telling off from a Muslim woman for not chanting “Victory to Hezbollah”, so we took a vote and decided to adopt that slogan, and I’m proud of it.

      Not something that I expected, but it should be pointed out after some of the conduct at the recent Israel-Lebanon marches in London. The speeches did not descend into demogogy either. The sound man did a terrible job but for posterity I hope they are placed on YouTube to counter-balance some of the “blood, blood and more blood” speeches of recent London protests, particularly

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8VWxZKWJ3Y

    55. sonia — on 18th September, 2006 at 1:01 pm  

      Perhaps in asking why people don’t turn out for protests we could take another factor into consideration ->many people think it doesn’t make a difference. the perceived ‘failure’ of millions turning out against the iraq war has significant impact one way or the other.

    56. Bert Preast — on 18th September, 2006 at 2:57 pm  

      I think a main problem is Average Joe has next to no idea where Sudan is and what’s going on there. This could be laid at the door of the MSM, but they report on what they think will interest a large number of people and it seems they had the impression this wouldn’t.

      I wonder if this was down to a lack of lobbying, genuine ignorance of how bad the situation in Darfur was becoming, the difficulty of getting reporters to go somewhere with a conspicuous lack of 5 star hotels, interference from Khartoum or the lack of an angle - that is they had no idea which side to be sympathetic to. Simply showing pictures of suffering in Africa is something a lot of westerners have grown hardened to these days. The heady optimism of 1984 has long passed.

      At least now people and the MSM are starting to show an interest, but are understandably short on reasons to become embroiled in a muslim civil war - whoever goes there is going to have to be there for a long time.

    57. Rowshan — on 19th September, 2006 at 1:03 am  

      Took the opporunity to read on the UK govt.s site …. The Sudanese civil war is Africa’s longest-running conflict - often the war is simplifie into a North-South divide - and then mistakenly , a clash of Muslim and Christian civilisations. But on the ground the causes are complex and more to do with ongoing under-development of marginalised areas in Sudan and competition for access to political and economic pwer, dominated by a Northern Nile -Valley centred Arabm Muslim elite…

      But in Darful the warring factions are all Muslim.

    58. Rowshan — on 19th September, 2006 at 1:10 am  

      The UN is the only agency that has any legitimacy in representing the views of the South ( developing countries). If we left the G8s to do their bit, we would have imperialism rearing its head under the guise of good democracy ( this is what US AID does). The UN at least checks this tendency among western govts. I used to bash the UN but have now stopped - it’s ineffective, inefficent - but far more reprsentative than single governments. We do away with the UN, we do away with the right to challenge self-serving foreign interests. If we invest and bolster the UN so that it reforms, reduces negative incentives, then we could achieve a whole lot more. This isn’t idealism - it’s about engaging in organisational reform.

    59. fugstar — on 23rd September, 2006 at 12:35 pm  

      Muslim charities, Malaysia, Malaysians and others are involved with sudan. Its a very interesting place, oh yes, i forgot, its not about caring, its just an opportunity to get a leg in. Many of us make big wrong assumptions when we assume that the only information out there is what we receive from our lonely planet level analyses.

      I think theres something wrong with people sitting thousands of miles away with very incomplete facts deciding intervention.

      About expecting Islamic Enbassy levels ofanalysis and info from young Uk based organisation.
      der, are you think or something? why not try history or real people for once.

      Chairwoman, my interest is not in race-elite discourse, i was just being descriptive. the un stuff will perpetuate itself a little longer, people will make some money, others will feel important, fewer still will actually be important. The development industry will perpetuate itself too. i refuse to be used by these kind of actors or have my hopes used and dashed by them. there are far better constructive and counterhegemonic spaces to be.

      NAM needs to be stronger, the decolonising and reemerging societies need to get it together before the builders of the un…sorry the victors of ww2 take us all down with them.

      In fact development agencies need to be setup in the north, by folks from the south to cure the north of its consumptive greed.

    60. fugstar — on 26th September, 2006 at 8:34 pm  

      sonia, think of this..

      loads of hippies go to darfur

      they raise the stakes by being there

      the anti govt rebels take advantage (assuming they are not angels)

      the longterm system is damaged, corrupted, ineffectual and ridden with similar problems that exist now, only with an even more complicated and twisted flavour.

      ??

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