April 17, 2005

Never Again... Again

Ah, finally I got my grubby mitts on a Congressional Research Service issue brief (PDF) on Sudan. (Why oh why aren't these things made public? They're funded with taxpayer money…) Always good to see what sort of information Congress is getting about a given issue, and in this case, the brief is very, very, very well-done. Print it out and leaf through it if you want to learn more about the ongoing crisis.

Anyway, there was one particularly pathos-filled passage (really!) midway though the piece that's worth quoting:
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, who came to power after the 1994 Rwandan genocide, had stated that his country would respond if called to end genocide in Sudan during a speech in April 2004 at the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. Rwanda was the first to deploy troops as part of the AU mission. Senior Rwandan officials have also asserted that despite the limited mandate, Rwandan troops would defend civilians, if they are attacked.

Rwanda has not yet followed through on its threat, however, although in late 2004 Rwandan troops blocked Janjaweed militia intending to attack a civilian village. Rwandan troops took up positions to prevent the Janjaweed from their planned attack on the village and refused the Janjaweed’s demand to disarm. Rwandan government officials argue that it is better to have a small force present in Darfur than to have nothing at all. However, Kigali [i.e., capital of Rwanda] has made its views clear that the proposed expanded force should have a mandate to protect civilians.
It's a sad day indeed when the only country willing to send in the cavalry is the one that lost nearly a million people to its own genocide a decade ago. (The casualties in Darfur, by the way, have now reached one-half of the final body count in Rwanda. "Never again"?) But honestly, mass butchering really isn't one of those things you need to experience for yourself before you understand how serious it is. So why is Rwanda so alone here?:
Many members of the African Union do not share the view that a genocide is occurring in Darfur and still consider the government of Sudan as the central player in the resolution of the conflict and protector of civilians, while U.S. and U.N. officials hold the government of Sudan responsible for the atrocities in Darfur.
Yep, that's the problem I noted in the post below: most of the ceasefire agreements drawn up so far have assumed that the Khartoum government can mediate a truce between the janjawid horseback militias and the Darfur rebel groups. Wrong, wrong, wrong. It's the central government itself that has been arming and supporting janjawid fighters (often with air support) and violating the ceasefires. Now the AU has its own reasons for supporting Khartoum, just as it has reasons for supporting Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe: namely, to preserve the notion of state sovereignty in Africa. But that's the wrong way to look at things here.
-- Brad Plumer 5:03 PM || ||