Canada’s Continuing Acquiescence in Genocide
Statement by David Kilgour
Bow Valley Delta Hotel
December 30, 2005
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I’m here to demonstrate solidarity with MLA David Swann, Sudan expert Mel Middleton, Adam Abdulla, Mustafa Youynis and all the Sudanese Canadians and others here to raise awareness about Canada’s continuing acquiescence in what many people label as a genocide.
The mass killings, gang rapes and forced starvation deaths that continue to occur across Darfur are an all all-but-invisible land tsunami, which reached full force across Darfur in April 2003. Similar ones in South Sudan began as early as 1985; the killing, burning and raping methods the Government of Sudan perfected there were simply transferred to Darfur.
Only a week or so ago, the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan condemned a “vicious attack” a day earlier on a village in West Darfur. Twenty citizens, including women and children, were reportedly murdered by several hundred militia. Annan called on the Government of Sudan to bring the latest perpetrators to justice.
All well and good, but the UN’s own Commission of Inquiry has already found that the Government of Sudan’s Janjeweed did the same thing in up to 2,000 other villages across Darfur since 2003. When are the Secretary General and the Security Council going to do something other than issue statements of regret?
The Government of Sudan has long targeted women and children in both South Sudan and Darfur.
I’ve brought some copies of “Children within Darfur’s Holocaust,” which was released just before Christmas by one of the closest observers of events in Sudan, Professor Eric Reeves of Smith College. No one can match Reeves’ attention to detail, scholarship or eloquence, but let me read only the opening two sentences of his study:
“The suffering and destruction of children in Darfur is an obscenity beyond reckoning, beyond redemption, beyond forgiveness. During the course of this genocidal conflict, the number of children who have been killed, raped, wounded, displaced, traumatized, or endured the loss of parents and families is well over one million.”
Responsibility to Protect
Let me close with some thoughts about Canada’s signature doctrine, “Responsibility to Protect,” and some related issues, which both the Chrétien and Martin governments have talked up to virtually anyone who would listen.
Where is the R2P for an approximated 400,000 dead Darurians? Where is the human security for them? Are Africans not subject to UN Security Council protection in such conflicts? When a regional body (here the African Union) is, despite best efforts, unable to stop the carnage, the UN Charter requires the Security Council to act. Some observers say that China and Russia will veto anything. Let’s call their bluff and see if they want to defend publicly the Khartoum regime.
Is it only Europeans who are eligible for humanitarian interventions? Some of the same governments who let the killing and ‘ethnic cleansing’ rapes drag on for 40 months in Bosnia-Herzegovina, with 200,000 dead, claiming it was impossible to stop ‘ancient hatreds,’ are now trivializing Darfur as a ‘tribal conflict.’ The US Deputy Secretary of State, Robert Zoellick, for one, said as much in Sudan earlier this month. He should know better. The cause of the killing, burning and raping in Darfur is undisputedly the Government of Sudan, which wants to empty Darfur of its ‘African’ residents.
In the case of Bosnia, approximately 60 governments, led by the Clinton administration and NATO finally sent approximately 60,000 peacemakers, including about 1,500 Canadian troops, to stop the mayhem a decade ago. Where is the political will in Ottawa, Brussels, Addis or Washington to do intervene in Darfur, with already 400,000 dead?
The book From Peacekeeping to Peacemaking by Professor Nicholas Gammer of B.C.’s Okanagan University College makes some key points. Two only:
Darfur is indeed Rwanda in slower motion. The question is when is the international community going to decide to stop it? Will it take a ‘Hotel Rwanda’ about Darfur to spur us into action?
Where is Paul Martin in all this? His task force on Sudan spokesperson, Robert Fowler, last month pronounced it not a genocide. Earlier, Martin’s government even attempted to have the Bush administration persuade the US District Court of New York to dismiss the court action against Talisman Energy for its alleged atrocities in Sudan. The action by the Presbyterian Church of Sudan and others is proceeding because the judge refused to agree with the point of view of the governments of the US and Canada.
All the evidence indicates that what is happening in Darfur is indeed a genocide. For Canada to continue with its current policy would be to betray not only the R2P, but its own foreign policy and the human rights it purports to protect. A true commitment to R2P means that we should have insisted long ago that Sudan has forfeited the right to decide who protects the people of Darfur.