Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Sudan Genocide: we need to act

A drawing by a Darfuri child, showing their village being burnt and villagers being shot as they flee.
copyright - waging peace

I was in London on Monday to attend a meeting of the Lib Dem European Group, which works with other European Liberal Parties. I had the chance to go to a Liberal International British Group (www.libg.org.uk) lecture from Rebecca Tinsley, the inspirational chair of Waging Peace, (www.wagingpeace.info) a small NGO that works to collect testimony an help people suffering persecution in Africa. A lot of its work is in Darfur and in Southern Sudan.

I don't know a lot about the situation here but the testimony is harrowing and also inspiring. The Sudanese government is killing hundreds of thousands of black African people in Darfur and is desperately trying to impede the impending referendum in South Sudan on that region seceding from Sudan. Millions have been killed in the civil war in South Sudan

 The government of Sudan is a nasty Islamic regime, which wants its citizens to obey Sharia Law, even though many of them are not Muslims. Until recently, slavery was acceptable and there is considerable evidence of systematic use of rape and terror against its citizens. The shameful thing is that it is possible that the UK and the US are backsliding on our commitments. George W , ironically did a lot to advance the peace process here. The Obama regime appears to have “decoupled” the South Sudan issue from the genocide in Darfur. That runs the risk of forgetting about human right violations in Darfur in return for allowing the people of South Sudan their democratic rights.

What does the average person know of all this? Well its a long way away and we tend to dismiss Africa as hopeless. But Becky passionately advanced, we are all people and we cannot let governments kill their people without reproach. In Britain, Becky was concerned that the current mantra of putting trade relations first could marginalise human rights issues. I hope not and she has fired me up to find out more about this crisis and see what I can do. I have decided to ask for some donations to charities in Sudan instead of my normal Christmas presents because charity doesn't start at home, it starts with those most in need. Our problems in the UK suddenly seem much smaller.

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