Journal of the People’s Pastor

“Writing The History I’ve Lived, Living The History I Write!”

DARFUR DIARY
Is that a light at the end of the tunnel?



The Daily Challenge 6/14/2007, carried the story that on Wednesday, June 13th the Security Council of the United Nations (UN) announced that Sudan had agreed to a joint African Union (AU)/UN force to end the blood shed in Darfur. Belgium’s Ambassador, Jahon Verbeke, Chair of the Council for this month, said the 15 members of the Security Council “welcomed the agreement” after UN Undersecretary General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guehenno, gave assurance that “we can move forward.”

In addition, Ambassador Verbeke, the Council expressed support for UN efforts to bolster and broaden last year’s Peace Agreement between the Sudanese government and Darfur rebels. Only one rebel group signed the Agreement. It was clear to all parties, except those who had a direct interest in the success of the negotiations, that the conflict would continue. The agreement by one party did succeed in fragmenting the Darfurian leadership. The Council members called on all parties to cooperate in the negotiations.

The Council members also demanded “immediate and unconditional respect of the cease fire.” And, “timely and full implementation of the Agreement.” The Council’s Ambassadors looked forward to the meeting with President Omar El Bashir on Sunday, June 17th.

The Agreement called for a “hybrid”, UN Peacekeeping Force, of 17,500 to 19,600 and an additional 6,000 police. Also Mr. Guehenno said, “We (the UN) will be providing the administration, the logistics, we will be applying rules and the procedures but in the framework of a joint AU/UN effort.”

It was agreed that the UN would be in charge of command and control, in line with all its peacekeeping and procedures. But an African General would have operational control on the ground. The UN agreed to comply with Sudan insistence that the Joint Force be made up primarily of African troops. But if specialized capacities could not be found in Africa, the UN would look else where. Mr. Guehenno said that a 3,000 contingent that would provide logistical support for the AU should be deployed in Darfur within the months.

The New York Times on 6/19/07 confirmed all that the Daily Challenge had reported. In addition, the New York Times reported on the Sunday, 6/17, meeting in Khartoum with Security Council members, President Bashir and his Foreign Minister. They both stated that they had agreed “unconditionally” to the UN/AU proposal. The Times also reported that China had played a significant role in persuading Mr. Bashir to accept the proposal. While China had not been publicly critical, however, it was reported that privately, China had had direct conversation with President Bashir. It is believable. Because China wants to host the Olympic Games, there is growing fear in China that the mounting pressure across the world to deny them the Olympics might succeed, if they continue to support the Sudanese government.

In my conversation with Darfurian leadership, there is cautious optimism. Although Sudan has been accused of breaking agreements in the past, this time however, there is greater world pressure and the threat of an intensification of sanctions by US and Britain, which are compelling factors, as the Sudanese government considers its options.

I was particularly encouraged and gratified to be informed by a highly regarded and trusted Darfurian leader that in an interview on Sudan television and Al Jazeera (Arab speaking television) President Bashir stated that his government will comply with the Agreement. He insisted on three demands;

1 – Respect for Sudan’s sovereignty;
2 – The protection of the refugee camps must be by police, not troops;
3 – AU control of the hybrid force.

When Mr. Bashir was reminded that he once said that before he accepted the hybrid troops, he would give up his Presidency and go back to being a General. (Meaning he would be ready to go to war.) He replied that the world was against him and that he had lost sympathy of the African Americans in the USA. I believe the President had our efforts and organization (The National Religious Leaders of African Ancestry Concerned About Darfur, Sudan, Inc.) in mind. Of course, there have been other African Americans involved, such as Congressman Donald Payne, but, I think our organization have had the greatest impact. We have had direct interaction with almost all the leaders in the conflict, including the Sudanese and Chadian governments, and Darfurian rebel and civil leaders. Also we have interacted directly with refugees in the refugee camps.

There is an urgency now for the Darfurian leadership to unite. The Peacekeeping Agreement is only part of the picture. If Sudan is to achieve peace and realize its potential, for all of its citizens, there must be an agreement between the government of Sudan and Darfurian leadership.

While important things were happening in Sudan on Sunday, we held a Father’s Day Pray Vigil at the UN and the Sudanese Embassy in support of Darfurian fathers. And on Monday, 6/18/07, we carried another truck load of material support to the warehouse. The support drive will continue thru June. We ask that all supplies be boxed and the items recorded on the outside of the box.

For the records, I should mention that on Thursday, 6/14/07, I participated in a rally with Nubians (indigenous Africans), who claims that the Egyptian have killed six (6) millions of their people and driven them from their homeland. I can not help but wonder, if what the Nubians claim is true, it would substantiate the allegations made by some Darfurian leadership that the struggle is about Arab expansionism and Arabism, the imposition of Arab culture. And let us not forget, that the indigenous Africans in the South of Sudan claim that the Sudanese government killed four (4) million of their people. And in Darfur, it has been reported that anywhere from 200,000-400,000 have been killed and 2.5 million have been displaced. When we add those numbers, the total is staggering. Again, is Arab expansionism at the root of the genocide or annihilation or cultural cleansing?

I hope and pray that the Agreement is lasting and that the Darfurian leadership will arrive at unity swiftly. All who have been a part of our efforts should feel a profound satisfaction that we have played a part in world affairs in particularly as it relates to Africa. Who knows how far our influence has reached.

Upcoming Events

Saturday, June 23rd - Clergy Breakfast Meeting discussion on the conditions in Darfur – 8:00am
Bethany Baptist Church, 275 West Market Street in Newark, New Jersey

Saturday, June 30th - Clergy Breakfast Meeting discussion on the conditions in Darfur – 8:00am
The House of the Lord Church, 415 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, New York

Organizing Meetings regarding Darfur every Thursday - 12noon @ the House of the Lord Church
Material Support Drive to Help the People of Darfur going on until June 30th.

BCAT Program every 2nd and 4th Sunday @ 2p.m.
For further Information on all events, contact The House of the Lord Church @ (718) 596-1991