Monday, October 15, 2007

Previous posts on the Darfur Crisis in Sudan. LINK

Last Thursday, I watched this documentary titled Darfur: On Our Watch. I found it very frustrating as I watched the how this war has been going on for almost 8 years, and yet so little has been done about it. The UN, which has been having countless meetings about Darfur all this time, has been able to produce very little work towards bringing the conflict to a close. The major reason up until 2006 was the role China has to play in the decision-making process.

According to the documentary, China has invested a lot into the oil industry in the Sudan. The Sudanese government gets payment for the oil, while the Chinese gov't sends engineers and developers to go to the Sudan to excavate oil. More importantly, the Chinese gov't supplies weapons and arms to the Sudanese military (who in turn supply weapons and arms to militias like the Janjaweed). This is why China has opposed UN efforts - however weak they were - to intervene in the Darfur Crisis.

Another roadblock, and this is a major one, is the definition of genocide. Some claim that what is happening in Darfur is genocide, while others are saying it's tribal warfare. The definition is this: "The systematic and planned extermination of an entire national, racial, political, or ethnic group." From what I've read, the beginnings of the conflict may have been motivated by the animosity between tribal interests. However, at this juncture, when you have one group who consider themselves to be Arabs slaughtering and raping people who consider themselves to be Africans, then it is one ethnic group against another. Then, it is genocide.

At the end of this documentary, I got this message, and perhaps it's a confirmation rather than a declaration: Help hasn't been given to the people of Darfur because they are black. If they were white or if they looked European, member countries of the UN would not have had such a hard time deciding on how to act. They would have acted a lot sooner to put a stop to it. For example, Kosovo in the former Yugoslavia. The US acted very quickly. The US got a lot of support very quickly. This time, it was not as easy and I do believe that skin colour has a huge role to play in stalling the decision-making process. The result is that over hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, raped, maimed and displaced since 2002 when the conflict erupted.

What annoys me is that this issue has not be discussed very much, if at all, in the Chinese media.

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