Journal of the People’s Pastor

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

DARFUR DIARY

" Part V: Another Memorable Week in the Life of An Activist Pastor "
(My response to Minister Akbar)


When all is said and done, what we have to address is the allegations that the Sudanese government has been involved with the Arab militia, call Janjaweed (evil on horseback) resulting in what the U.N. has called, “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today.” It has been reported, 200,000 to 400,000 people (Indigenous Africans) have been killed since 2003. 21/2 million people have been displaced, wide spread cruelty, rape, even kidnapping, some say enslavement and land has been taken, and, that in fact, the Sudanese government has not done all it could to promote humanitarian assistance.

On the one side, the U.N., the International Criminal Court (I.C.C). – human rights organizations, i.e. Amnesty International, some of these groups have a history of criticizing governments, even the U.S.A. and European governments, have made allegations against the Sudanese government. And on the other side, there is the Sudanese government’s position, which states,
The conflict is ancient. Warring tribes have been fighting for a long time,
Shrinking resources have produced fierce conflict,
Exaggerations - the reports are blown out of proportion by the enemy of Sudan and African people who are brothers and sisters. For an example, only 9,000 have been killed.
The Sudanese army has been involved but it is to separate warring factions and/or to protect its citizens.

That is essentially the position of the Sudanese government.

Earlier in the year, I led a delegation in a meeting with Ambassador Abdalmahmod Abdalhaleem Mohamad, the Permanent Representative of Sudan to the U.N. He expressed the above position in answer to my question, “What is the Sudanese government’s position regarding the allegations?”

So, what are we to believe? I think most people want the truth. We are opposed to enslavement, rape, violence, land confiscation no matter who the culprits are. We can look for the answer in a number of ways.

We can ask the Darfurians. In this country, there are hundreds, if not thousand, of Darfurians. We have held private and public meeting with them. All of whom have confirmed that the allegations are true.
The I.C.C. says it has evidence based on photos, gravesites and testimonies.
The Sudanese government has admitted that:
There is a conflict and people are being killed.
There are refugee camps.
The Sudanese National High Commission of Inquiry, appointed by President Omar L. Bashir has confirmed the widespread violence and killings and rapes.
While the government has rejected I.C.C.’s attempt to bring to trial 52 members of the government, it has admitted that there are guilty parties, but they will handle it.

There have been 7,500 African Union (AU) troops in Sudan to protect citizens and humanitarian workers. Everybody admits this number is wholly inadequate. After years of debate, on July 31, 2007, the UN and the Sudanese government agreed to an increase of 26,500. That very agreement argues persuasively that there is something terribly wrong and it is not minute. No government would allow that kind of presence of foreign troops, partly controlled by an international body other than African/Arabs, unless there was a serious problem, which the government itself could not or would not resolve.

Two other considerations are compelling. You can visit the area where the victims are and hear their testimonies. This I did. I spent sixteen days in Chad, Central Africa, which boarders Sudan. I met with governmental, civic, political, religious leaders. I even met with rebel leaders in the bush. I talked with young soldiers, male and female, in and around the bush. I conversed with victims in refugee camps in Gaga, Chad. There was a unanimous message; first, they came with airplanes, then big vehicles with big guns. After they had dropped bombs from the planes and fired the big guns, then came horseback riders who continued the destruction, violence, the rape, the kidnapping and land theft. (By the way, recently on the front page of the New York Times was a picture of Sudanese airplanes disguised with UN paint and letterings.)

Now, what these people are saying is either true or false. If it is false, it means across 800 miles (the distance that I traveled by plane and car spending a couple of nights on the highway) thousand of people somehow agreed to tell a lie, they really were not victimized, and then, to validate the lie, voluntarily left their ancestral home and land to live in refugee camps. Those who choose to believe that they are lying can do so. I cannot. I choose to believe the victims.
The second consideration is a reference to history. If, in the past, a man had been accused of violence, killing, raping, stealing and enslaving members of his family and friends, it would be logical to believe the allegations when he is accused of doing the same thing. So we need to study the history of Arab relationship to Africans both on the continent and in the Diaspora. If there is a history of Arabs murdering, raping, exploiting, conquering, kidnapping, etc. of Africans, then we are justified in believing if there are allegations, the allegations are true.
Let me refer to a couple of developments in recent history. In the south of Sudan, the Sudanese government has been accused of killing two to four million Africans. The south, led by a man named John Garange, beat back the invading Sudanese army in a 21-year war. They won an agreement that the south would enjoy semi-autonomy, elect its own president, who would serve as vice president in the central government. And in 2011, there would be a publicite, whereby the people of the south would determine if they wanted to be a part of the Sudanese government or independent or part of some kind of federation.

The second reference I want to make is from an article from the AfroTimes dated September 8, 2007. the headline reads “Antislavery Measures Falls Short,” activist say. The article says, “There are an estimated 1⁄2 million slaves in the West African nation of Mauritania. The national assembly voted unanimously to adopt a law criminalizing slavery, which continues to exist both in traditional and contemporary forms. Thus, we see, according to the paper, the government’s admission to the existence of slavery. One has to wonder how many other Arab countries are practicing or allowing slavery to exist.

To be continued…
Upcoming Events

Attend the Timbuktu Learning Center’s weekly Thursday night forums 7pm to 9pm held at the House of the Lord Church.

The National Religious Leaders Concerned About Darfur (NRLAA) will sponsor its first Anniversary Celebration on Thursday, October 18, 2007, from 6pm to 8pm at the House of the Lord Church, located at 415 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, New York.

Attend NRLAA’s monthly forum focusing on Africa the 2nd Saturday from 12pm to 2pm.
Organizing Meetings regarding Darfur every Thursday - 12noon @ the House of the Lord Church
Keep abreast of our Darfurian activities by checking our web page @ www.holnj.org.

For further Information on all events, contact The House of the Lord Church @ (718) 596-1991.