Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Darfur: A Bibliography of Violence and International Indifference

By Eric Reeves

The accelerating avalanche of violence that continues to sweep across Darfur has finally compelled acknowledgement by the international community, which inevitably refers to this as a “recent” development. This is despicably disingenuous. UNAMID, the UN, and all international actors have long had available voluminous evidence of extreme violence in Darfur that goes back years. To be sure, we know from the superb account by Colum Lynch in Foreign Policy (April 7, 2014) that UNAMID and the UN did a great deal by way of obscuring, hiding, or failing to report the evidence of this violence that they had in hand. This is shameful beyond reckoning, and Part One of Lynch’s searing account of UNAMID (“They Just Stood Watching“) concludes with a quote that sums up the cynicism of UNAMID, in particular its special representatives for the UN and African Unity—Rodolphe Adada, Ibrahim Gambari, and currently Mohamed Ibn Chambas:
[Former UNAMID spokesperson Aicha] Elbasri says that she raised concerns about UNAMID’s refusal to acknowledge the government role with one of the peacekeepers’ local commanders, Maj. Gen. Wynjones Matthew Kisamba. She still remains shaken by his answer. The UNAMID forces, she recalls Kisamba saying, had to occasionally massage the truth. “You know, sometimes we have to behave like diplomats,” he told her. “We can’t say all what we see in Darfur.”
As culpable as such an attitude may be, responsibility also lies with news organizations that did not press UN and UNAMID officials nearly hard enough about the realities with which they were being presented. There is no other way to account for the grotesque caption to a photograph in a piece by the New York Times (“A Taste of Hope Sends Refugees Back to Darfur,” dateline: Nyuru, West Darfur; March 2, 2012): it reads in part, “peace has settled on the region.” The correspondent, according to all my Darfuri sources—some of them from this region of Darfur—was quite simply taken in by Khartoum’s and the UN/AU’s version of a “Potemkin Village” (see my account based on Darfuri sources and reports from Radio Dabanga at http://wp.me/p45rOG-Mb). Notably, this is the last dateline by a major news organization from an area significantly away from the urban areas and displaced persons camps—over two years ago.
There are notable exceptions: see below my discussion of the Reuters dispatch reporting on the massacre of non-Arab/African civilians at Tabarat (North Darfur) in September 2010. But since that time, reports of such honesty and detail have rarely been produced by journalists “covering” Darfur. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>

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