William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD

NEVER AGAIN?

After Rwanda the entire world said: “Never again”
“Will we put up with the genocidal inhumanity of men”
Responsibility to Protect was passed at the UN
And Everyone said: “No never again!”

Then came ethnic cleansing in the Sudan;
Where were the Canadians and their RTP[•] plan?
Romeo[•] and others in warning had cried out
It ceased to a whimper –The Liberals put no clout in their shout!

Lew’s[•] idea for a quick reaction Peacemaking Brigade
Could have saved lots of lives had proper decisions been made
Liberals were busy protecting the Government of Kabul
Canadian downsized troop numbers were bloody woeful

China was buying Her Oil in the deserts of the Sudan
And not interested in their blatant inhumanity to man
The killing continues, hundreds of thousands have died
And the UN[•] looks on helpless – just another genocide!

Don’t hurt the Sudanese feelings as they murder and rape:
Send in the AU[•] troops? But will September be 4 years too late?
They won’t have permission to use any Force?
So the troops will be useless observers, of course!

Four years of killing continues in the bloodied villages of Darfur
Murdering unarmed families in this one sided war
The world stands by helpless and looks on with distain
As global genocidal ethnic cleansings continue again and again!

Author’s Note: This poem was prompted by the article by Kate Heartfield from the Ottawa Citizen clipped from the Victoria Times Colonist 29 July 2007.

ICROSS CANADA is planning to purchase wish list medicines for a medical container and fill it with Izzy African Comfort Dolls in partnership with the Compassionate Ministries who are seeking permission to send a much needed medical container to the survivors of the genocide in the refugee camps of the Sudan. http://icross-canada.com

How do we avoid the next Darfur?

Canada must step up on world stage, even if it means military action

Kate Heartfield
By Kate Heartfield
As Darfur is slipping from being the next Rwanda to being the prototype for the next Darfur, maybe it’s time for Canada to glean some lessons from this failure.
And it is a very Canadian failure, because it seems to stem in part from an excess of politeness. You can’t move fast when you’re walking on eggshells.
For four years, we have known about the violence. No matter what happens now, our slow response ensures that Darfur will go down on the shameful side of history’s ledger. We’ve failed the first big test of the Canadian ideal known as the Responsibility to Protect.

If we want to pass the second test, or the third or the fourth, we’re going to have to figure out why we failed in Darfur.

Part of the answer is easy: Our ignorance and small-mindedness. That accounts for the first two years or so of the crisis.

But about halfway through this nightmare, citizens in the democratic world started wearing wristbands and holding concerts and writing columns.

So the blame shifted to the governments and from the governments to their forum, the United Nations. The UN is finally working on establishing a beefed-up, hybrid UN-African Union peacekeeping force, but it’s been hamstrung all along by the fact that members of the Security Council, especially China, are unwilling to clear their throats without Sudan’s permission.

Of course, it’s easy for Canadians to tut-tut about China, but less easy for a dinner-party’s worth of Canadians to agree on what kinds of military intervention are acceptable. Are we willing to send Canadian soldiers (assuming we had them to spare) into danger?

We’re going to have to get willing if we’re going to stop future Darfurs. You can’t protect a bully’s victim without facing the bully. It is difficult to stop people from dying without offending the killers.

Fear of offence has been an obstacle to action in other areas, too. Many American politicians and activist groups want an internationally enforced no-fly zone in Darfur. That would cut the militia off from the air support that has been part of the violence in the past and could be again. More important, it might give the government of Sudan a reason to wipe the smirk off its face and negotiate for real.

But the humanitarian organizations on the ground say a no-fly zone would make their work impossible. They need to use the airspace, and relief agencies anywhere depend on a certain amount of goodwill, or at least indifference, from local authorities. Understandably, they don’t want to do anything to anger them.

Dafur: Four Years of Brutal Violence
Dafur: Four Years of Brutal Violence
It’s a reasonable position, but ultimately irreconcilable with the Responsibility to Protect.

Aid organizations might have to remain neutral to do their work, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the world has to. A no-fly zone is a relatively easy way to bring some security to the area, to make it possible for peacekeepers to do their job. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says the no-fly zone is the only way to get the attention of Sudan’s government, and she’s probably right.

Besides, Sudan is already interfering with humanitarian work to such an extent that Oxfam had to pull out of the biggest Darfur refugee camp. Some displaced people are living on the fringes of the camps and receiving little or no help. Sometimes, the only available choices are between different degrees of suffering.

In 2000, the Canadian government convened an international commission to explain what is involved in the Responsibility to Protect. That commission laid out the principles of intervention and warned about Security Council intransigence. It didn’t offer many practical solutions, though.

Here’s the crux of the problem: The Responsibility to Protect is always going to be popular in principle, and almost never going to be popular in practice. Implementing it requires a slightly quixotic approach to foreign affairs, a willingness to ‘give offence and take a few risks, when the alternatives are horrifying.

The new leaders of France and Britain seem to be willing to be noisy — perhaps even rude — on the Darfur issue. Canada should support them however it can, even if it’s just a matter of making a big fuss. It’s too late to erase the failure of the past four years, but we still need to negotiate one more obstacle to action: Procedural yammering.

A month after Sudan agreed to the hybrid force, the Security Council is still arguing over the language in the authorizing resolution. If all goes incredibly well, the mission will begin in September. “I think this is fast, by UN standards,” said Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last week.

The delay has given Sudan time to backtrack again, saying it never agreed to a mission that would be able to use force. Dissension on the Security Council, as some countries (such as South Africa) insist on not hurting Sudan’s feelings, plays right into Sudan’s hands.

Canada should tell its friends to smarten up.

Ottawa Citizen