Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Darfur, the UN, bureaucratic routine, & "global chaos theory at work" - Shameless complicity with mass murder continues (Adam Lebor)

Below are two powerful pieces in the London Times to which I was alerted by Adam LeBor, author of Complicity with Evil: the United Nations in the Age of Modern Genocide.

=> The central story, and the main subject of a piece by LeBor on Sunday, is the continuing failure of the alleged "international community," as represented by the United Nations, to take any serious measures to end the ongoing genocide in Darfur. Some highlights:
Why doesn’t the UN stop the genocide in Darfur?

The UN Security Council has the power to take action against Sudan. This could ultimately include military action, under the new doctrine of “responsibility to protect”, which allows for collective measures to stop crimes against humanity. So far, it remains empty rhetoric.

The UN’s timid response is part of a pattern of appeasement of genocide. In recent crises, secretariat officials and the Security Council have prioritised realpolitik over the humanitarian obligations of the UN. [....]

Defenders of the UN say that its institutions merely reflect the policies of its members. Omar al-Bashir, the President of Sudan, exploits the divisions skilfully. Knowing that there is little or no appetite in the West for military confrontation with another Muslim country, Sudan filibusters over the terms of the tortuously slow diplomacy over Darfur.

Sporadic attempts by Britain, France and the US at the UN Security Council to call Sudan to account or to institute sanctions have been blocked by Sudan’s main ally, China, which buys Sudanese oil and sells weapons to Sudan. Here is global chaos theory at work: an African child is thrown into the flames in Darfur, so that a commuter may drive to work in Beijing.

The slaughter in Darfur could be curtailed or even brought to a close without military intervention. Measures might include: deploying UN troops in Chad to prevent cross-border raids; targeted sanctions on Sudan’s oil industry; using trade to pressure China to stop its support for Khartoum; and even threats to boycott the Beijing Olympics.

If there were sufficient political will. It seems there is not. [....]
=> If the world is unwilling to prevent mass murder and other atrocities in Darfur, is it at least willing to help those victims who have managed to escape abroad? Not necessarily.

The second story is a British one, about which LeBor and others have recently been raising an alarm. Even as the slaughter in Darfur continues, Britain's Home Office bureaucracy has been proceeding with plans to send asylum seekers from Darfur back to Sudan. Faced with an imminent Court of Appeals decision that may rule these deportations illegal, the response of the Home Office was to accelerate the process. As another Times article reported yesterday ("Britain rushes to send back Darfur asylum families before court ruling"):
[Darfur refugee Imuna Ibrahim] is among scores of Darfuris summoned in recent days by the Home Office. The sudden rush to deport them — some are due to be flown back tomorrow — comes before a crucial Court of Appeal ruling that could stop Britain from sending them back to Khartoum, the seat of the government that sent the murderous horsemen and bombers to wreak havoc on Darfur. [....]

Mrs Ibrahim, 33, who arrived in Britain 18 months ago, is among 60 Darfuri asylum-seekers who have received letters in the past week, ordering them to report to immigration officials. At least two dozen more, who were in the process of making fresh asylum claims, have been taken into detention in preparation for their deportation — against the explicit advice of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, who insists that Darfuris are at risk if returned to Khartoum.

Lawyers and campaigners say that the unprecedented flurry of activity is the Government’s attempt to meet deportation targets before the Khartoum route is closed to it. John Bercow, the former Conservative frontbencher who raised the issue in the Commons this week, called on the Government to suspend the deportations until after the judicial ruling.

“It is unacceptable for the Government to steamroller ahead with a policy that may be very soon judged out of order,” he told The Times. “By returning them, the Government is exposing vulnerable people to possible imprisonment, torture or death.” [....]

Mohammed Abdulhadi Ali, who fled to Britain three years ago after his village in Darfur was burnt to the ground, is due to be deported tomorrow. [....] It is not what the victims of “ethnic cleansing” expected from Britain. “Britain gave me the feeling I could be safe here. Now they are sending me to my death. Is this human rights?” asks Mr Abdulhadi.
Public outcry sometimes has positive results. According to an e-mail message from LeBor this morning, the Home Office has suspended Abdulhadi's deportation order, and it seems possible that he and the other Darfuri asylum seekers may be protected when the Court of Appeals makes its ruling. Nevertheless, the conclusion to LeBor's piece remains valid:
If we cannot act to help to stop the killing, at least we could provide a safe home for Darfuris here. On January 27, on Holocaust Memorial Day, government ministers once more pledged “never again”. How empty those words sound now. The Home Office organised the first Holocaust Memorial Day ceremonies. Now civil servants in the same ministry are overseeing the deportation to likely imprisonment, torture, even death, of refugees fleeing the 21st-century’s first genocide. Have we no shame?
That's a good question for all of us.

--Jeff Weintraub

=========================
The Times (London)
April 1, 2007
If nothing else, we could provide a safe home
Adam LeBor, Analysis

Why doesn’t the UN stop the genocide in Darfur?

The UN Security Council has the power to take action against Sudan. This could ultimately include military action, under the new doctrine of “responsibility to protect”, which allows for collective measures to stop crimes against humanity. So far, it remains empty rhetoric.

The UN’s timid response is part of a pattern of appeasement of genocide. In recent crises, secretariat officials and the Security Council have prioritised realpolitik over the humanitarian obligations of the UN.

In January 1994 Kofi Annan, then head of UN peacekeeping, refused General Romeo Dallaire, the UN commander in Rwanda, permission to raid the Hutu arms caches. Soon after, the Security Council reduced his troops from 2,500 to 250. Hutu extremists slaughtered 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

In May 1995 Yasushi Akashi, the top UN official in former Yugoslavia, refused permission for an airstrike against the Bosnian Serbs because he said it might “weaken” President Milosevic, who he believed was needed for a peace deal. Two months later, Dutch peacekeepers at Srebrenica handed over up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys to the Bosnian Serbs, who then slaughtered them.

Defenders of the UN say that its institutions merely reflect the policies of its members. Omar al-Bashir, the President of Sudan, exploits the divisions skilfully. Knowing that there is little or no appetite in the West for military confrontation with another Muslim country, Sudan filibusters over the terms of the tortuously slow diplomacy over Darfur.

Sporadic attempts by Britain, France and the US at the UN Security Council to call Sudan to account or to institute sanctions have been blocked by Sudan’s main ally, China, which buys Sudanese oil and sells weapons to Sudan. Here is global chaos theory at work: an African child is thrown into the flames in Darfur, so that a commuter may drive to work in Beijing.

The slaughter in Darfur could be curtailed or even brought to a close without military intervention. Measures might include: deploying UN troops in Chad to prevent cross-border raids; targeted sanctions on Sudan’s oil industry; using trade to pressure China to stop its support for Khartoum; and even threats to boycott the Beijing Olympics.

If there were sufficient political will. It seems there is not. If we cannot act to help to stop the killing, at least we could provide a safe home for Darfuris here. On January 27, on Holocaust Memorial Day, government ministers once more pledged “never again”. How empty those words sound now. The Home Office organised the first Holocaust Memorial Day ceremonies. Now civil servants in the same ministry are overseeing the deportation to likely imprisonment, torture, even death, of refugees fleeing the 21st-century’s first genocide. Have we no shame?

Complicity with Evil: the United Nations in the Age of Modern Genocide, by Adam LeBor, is published by Yale University Press.

=========================
The Times (London)
April 2, 2007
Britain rushes to send back Darfur asylum families before court ruling
Catherine Phelp, Andrew Norfolk and Richard Ford

Dawn had just broken when the bombs dropped on the village in Darfur where Amuna Ibrahim, four months pregnant with her second child, was tending to her young son.

The air assault on Hamada was a prelude to an attack by the Janjawid, the Arab “devils on horseback”, who left 105 people, more than half the village, dead.

The horrors of that day, two years ago, have barely subsided. But, as Mrs Ibrahim sits barefoot on the floor of her home in Doncaster, she faces new horrors — the prospect that she and her two children, one born in Birmingham, are to be sent back to the land from which she fled.

She is among scores of Darfuris summoned in recent days by the Home Office. The sudden rush to deport them — some are due to be flown back tomorrow — comes before a crucial Court of Appeal ruling that could stop Britain from sending them back to Khartoum, the seat of the government that sent the murderous horsemen and bombers to wreak havoc on Darfur.

Mrs Ibrahim grabbed her son, Omar, and fled the Janjawid attack. When she returned, at the end of the day, Hamada was burnt-out and littered with the corpses of women and children.

Mrs Ibrahim, 33, who arrived in Britain 18 months ago, is among 60 Darfuri asylum-seekers who have received letters in the past week, ordering them to report to immigration officials. At least two dozen more, who were in the process of making fresh asylum claims, have been taken into detention in preparation for their deportation — against the explicit advice of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, who insists that Darfuris are at risk if returned to Khartoum.

Lawyers and campaigners say that the unprecedented flurry of activity is the Government’s attempt to meet deportation targets before the Khartoum route is closed to it. John Bercow, the former Conservative frontbencher who raised the issue in the Commons this week, called on the Government to suspend the deportations until after the judicial ruling.

“It is unacceptable for the Government to steamroller ahead with a policy that may be very soon judged out of order,” he told The Times. “By returning them, the Government is exposing vulnerable people to possible imprisonment, torture or death.”

His comments came after revelations about a Darfuri deported from Britain to Khartoum who was tortured on arrival by intelligence agents. They had apparently been made aware of his return by Sudanese embassy officials in London who had worked with the Home Office to deport him.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “We constantly monitor the situation in Sudan and in line with current case law continue to consider that it is safe to return Sudanese nationals, including those from Darfur, found not to be in need of international protection.”

Mohammed Abdulhadi Ali, who fled to Britain three years ago after his village in Darfur was burnt to the ground, is due to be deported tomorrow.

He received a letter eight days ago summoning him to an immigration interview where he was told that his asylum application had failed because he was unable to prove that he would be at risk in Khartoum, despite proving he was a Zarghawa, a member of the Darfuri tribe routinely targeted as enemies of the State.

He spoke to The Times shortly after officials handed him his plane tickets. “If I have to go, I will be killed the moment the plane lands,” Mr Abdulhadi said tearfully. “I am a Zarghawa. There is no future for me if I go back.”

His lawyer has argued that the Home Office omitted to consider crucial evidence, including tribal scars that mark him out as a Zarghawa.

It is not what the victims of “ethnic cleansing” expected from Britain. “Britain gave me the feeling I could be safe here. Now they are sending me to my death. Is this human rights?” asks Mr Abdulhadi.

Bloody conflict

— Darfur is roughly the size of France. Its main industry is subsistence farming

— SLA and JEM rebels bombed government targets in September 2003 in protest against alleged neglect of the region

— In December 2003 the Janjawid began a “scorched earth” campaign, burning villages and raping women

— UN confirmed in April 2004 that a campaign amounting to “ethnic cleansing” was being waged

— A ceasefire in 2004 and a peace deal in 2005 failed

— More than 2 million are now displaced; between 50,000 and 500,000 dead

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