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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Friday, April 22, 2005


Genocide is currently occurring in Sudan. Despite former US Secretary of State Colin Powell stating last September that genocide was in fact taking place, the atrocities continue. Australia announced this week that it will be sending a small deployment (a paltry 15 people) to assist the UN mission in the country.

Brian Steidle is a former US representative to the African Union who spent six months in Sudan monitoring the so-called ceasefire between rebels and the government and militia. He has now spoken out and detailed the horrors he witnessed.

"...probably say 95 per cent of the attacks, maybe even more – 99 per cent - were from the government of Sudan. It was the government of Sudan working in conjunction with the Arab militias using their helicopter gun ships and their Antonovs to bomb and terrorise the people."

Steidle's descriptions were chilling. He witnessed weapons that caused a man to have "his back...shredded by a cheese grater." Entire villages were burnt to the ground and women were mass raped.

"..outside the village of Adwah there was a bone field. It was probably about 50m by 50m and you couldn't walk around without stepping on human bones. We don't really know how many people were killed there, but they apparently had been taken from one of the village by the Janjaweed [militia] and executed and left there to rot."

And why doesn't the world act? Steidle said it was simple. "Innocent people are being killed by a government that is aimed at wiping them out, pushing them out of Darfur, killing them, simply because they are black Africans."

Rwanda recently marked the tenth anniversary of the 1994 genocide that killed close to 1 million people. The world has clearly learnt nothing after the worse atrocities since Cambodia under Pol Pot were committed.

The EU announced in August last year that its fact-finding mission had discovered widespread violence in Sudan but no signs of genocide, a crucial distinction allowing the Europeans not to intervene. has the latest news from the country. Watching ABC TV last night and witnessing gruesome pictures of decomposing bodies and burning villages, one couldn't help but feel helpless. Human Rights Watch is but one NGO trying to stop the ethnic cleansing.

We must act. It's already too late.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Antony, as the old Ottoman expression goes, even a broken clock is right twice a day.


Friday, April 22, 2005 11:33:00 am  
Blogger J F said...

Incorrect. The UN found genocidal intent but no genocide. In other words, not enough people had died yet.

Friday, April 22, 2005 12:28:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

That wasn't my understanding but you may well be right. Pretty shaming, either way. Tens of thousands are dying and we're worrying about definitions.

Friday, April 22, 2005 12:31:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But Antony doesn't get the real point here: the criminal incompetence of the UN. Talk to some of the Diggers who were sent to Rwanda under UN auspices and they'll tell you how they were forced to sit by and watch while thousands were slaughtered under their very noses. And why? Because of the UN's 'rules of engagement' that prohibited any use of lethal force, except in cases of self-defense. Australian soldiers who have first hand experience with the UN in Rwanda and E Timor generally detest that organization. And with good reason.

But then I guess he wanted to rely on the UN to deal with Saddam Hussein. Go figure.

Friday, April 22, 2005 12:50:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

I'm fully aware of the massive failings of the UN in these areas. Criminal would be an understatement. HOWEVER, to suggest, as many do on the right, that the UN should be abandoned or weakened is missing the point. Are we to rely on a world ruled by American interests alone? No bloody way. The UN is a flawed body and needs reform, but is vital if we believe in any kind of international law and justice.
Trashing the UN is easy. So is the US. Let's think of a better way.

Friday, April 22, 2005 12:58:00 pm  
Blogger theswanker said...

You're right. We should be trashing China instead.

Friday, April 22, 2005 1:22:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

International politics are like physics in that a vacuum will always seek to be filled. If the choice is between American hegemony and global rule by the UN, I unreservedly vote for the former. As hegemons go, the Americans are reasonably benign. Not perfect, but a helluva lot better than the tin pot despots, genocidists and scam artists who populate the UN.

The only sort of international law in which I believe are the treaty commitments that are freely adopted by sovereign nations. As for this pipe dream of world government that you seem to harbour, it would be an unmitigated disaster to give the UN global suzerainty.

Friday, April 22, 2005 2:39:00 pm  
Blogger Andjam said...

It's easy to talk about how things are bad in Sudan. But being sad isn't enough. What are we going to do? Boycotts? Kick them off the human rights commission? Enact a no-fly zone? Invade?

Sunday, April 24, 2005 1:06:00 am  

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