Black Looks - Including an African LGBTIQ+ Archive

Human Rights

Everyone has something more important to do than save the people of Darfur.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2005 calls for the prosectution of Sudanese forces and government backed militia responsible for the slaughter  of thousands in Darfur, and US government officials responsible for torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo. 

With regard to Darfur the report is a  damning indictment of  Western governments "cruel indifference" to the systematic violence against civilians by the Sudanese government.

"callous disregard

for the death of an estimated 70,000 people and the displacement of some 1.6

million more in Darfur……the international response has been little more than to condemn the atrocities, feed the victims, and send a handful of poor equipped African forces to try, largely in vain, to stop the slaughter…..Darfur mocks the vows of "never again"..

Everyone has betrayed the people of Darfur.  The UN security council has been hindered by vetos from China who has oil interests in Sudan which supersede the interests of the people of Darfur.  Russia has been busy protecting it’s monopoly on arms sales to the Sudan.

The US and other Western governments have passed the problem over to the African Union which is does not have the resources or as a new organisation, the experience to deal with a large scale operation such as is needed.  Meanwhile the US, Britain and Australia are busy in Iraq, France in Cote d’ Ivoire, NATO in Afghanistan and the EU in Bosnia. 

African and Muslim countries have also been weak in their condemnation of Sudan if at all.   

The non-permanent members also share
culpability.  Algeria and Pakistan have been models of Islamic
solidarity, so long as that is defined as fealty to
an Islamic government rather than commitment to the lives of Muslim
victims.
Other African members of the council, Angola and Benin, placed a
premium on
loyalty to a fellow African government.  In the U.N. General Assembly,
scores
of governments, hostile to any human rights criticism because of their
own poor
records, opposed even discussing Sudan’s murderous campaign, let alone
condemning it.

Although the scale of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison is much smaller, the abuser is far more powerful. 

When most
governments breach international human rights and humanitarian law,
they commit
a violation. The breach is condemned or prosecuted, but the rule
remains firm.
Yet when a government as dominant and influential as the United States
openly defies that law and seeks to justify its defiance, it also
undermines the law
itself and invites others to do the same. 

The US by its actions in Abu Ghraib has undermined human rights throughout the world.  Governments defend their use of repression and violence against  citizens by challenging the US own poor human rights record and quoting Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.

Kenneth Roth, executive director of HRW, said the US is obliged to maintaining the same standards as others instead of exceptionalism and t urged Bush to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate all those officials  who "participated in, ordered or had command responsibility for torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment".

The report is 527 pages and covers human rights and religion as well as country reports  –  a summary of African countries will follow .

4 Comments

  1. It is without question that the western governments could change the situation in Darfur tomorrow if they wanted to, however I feel the blame could laid equally at the feet of the Arab Union and the OAU to the extent that they drag their feet on this. I am uncomfortable with the notion of all the world’d ills needing to be rescued by the “west.” It does little more that reinforce a world view that the west, or more directly, whites, are the only ones who can legitimately protect human rights and that they should be looked to safeguard the institution. This absolves everyone else of the evil they do and that seems to me to be extremely paternalistic to me.

  2. Thanks for the comment and making a good point.

    I agree with you on that the AU and AL have “dragged their feet on this (See my post “Playing politics in Darfur” under Darfur cateogry). I have read the whole report on Darfur and HRW t does also criticize other African and Muslim countries on their failure to condemn the Sudanese government – thus the title “everyone is……… Page 3 of the Darfur/Abu Ghraib chapter states:

    “The non-permanent members also share culpability. Algeria and Pakistan have been models of Islamic solidarity, so long as that is defined as fealty to an Islamic government rather than commitment to the lives of Muslim victims. Other African members of the council, Angola and Benin, placed a premium on loyalty to a fellow African government. In the U.N. General Assembly, scores of governments, hostile to any human rights criticism because of their own poor records, opposed even discussing Sudan’s murderous campaign, let alone condemning it.”

    I certainly do not believe that Africa or the whole world need to be rescued by the west – in fact on the contrary. But I dont think one can make a complete analysis of Darfur or any situation in Africa without including the West as an active participant historically and today. Every situation needs to be contextualised in a global sense.

    Nor do I think the HRW report is saying that the West are the only ones who can protect HR. The issue is that the West and more importantly the US sets itself up as the “guardian” of HR then goes right ahead and violates them whilst expecting others to uphold them. We
    are all responsible for protecting human rights and no country is absolved of this. My concern is for human rights to be protected in African by African governments and people. If you read my article on slavery you will see I lay the blame for slavery in Nigeria on Nigerians and the Nigerian government – not the West or anyone one else.

  3. It disgusts me how the Western World as a whole has virtually ignored the human rights problems in Africa. Women (along with their men and children) continued to be tortured and murdered in Africa. Genocide and AIDS is rampant and yet we here in the West sit back and do nothing. So much in Africa can change for the better if we only just PAID ATTENTION AND DID SOMETHING TO HELP!!!

  4. hi, i found your blog from someone i know and i really love reading it. it’s inspiring to find likeminded people all around the world. i just wanted to let you know and send my encouragement to keep doing whatever you do that benefits humanity.

    sincerely,
    carly melancon
    louisiana, usa