Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Justice for Darfur | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The Sudanese government and Darfur’s Justice and Equality Movement [JEM] have signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Doha.

This new political development perhaps serves as a reminder of the tragedy that, in spite of its horror, has failed to incite Arab public opinion commensurate to the realities of the situation in Darfur.

Both the Arab governments, and the Arab public, were outraged at the news that the International Criminal Court was to bring formal charges of war crimes against the Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir. The outrage that the Arabs expressed in this right was far louder than any anger they expressed at the death of more than 300,000 Sudanese, the displacement of more than two million refugees, and the rape of thousands of women in Darfur.

Shouldn’t the notable Arab media’s defense of Al-Bashir have been commensurate with the Arab media’s defense of the victims of Darfur? In order to convince the public that we are victims of the West’s monopoly on international opinion, we must first show them that we side with the victims of those who were killed.

In spite of the testimonies and documented evidence with regards to the systematic rape of women in Darfur, Al Bashir has found many defenders who do not even refrain from accusing the victims of lying.

The same mistake that occurred regarding Halabja, the Kurdish village that was attacked with chemical weapons by former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in the late 1980s, is being repeated in Darfur. At that time we sided against the Western decision to topple Saddam Hussein, and we did not find any harm in ignoring the plight of the Kurdish victims.

Once again, new developments have occurred with regards to the Darfur crisis, yet the way that the Arab public and media deal with this can be characterized as indifferent, indeed it wouldn’t be an overstatement to describe the Arab reaction as racist.

The West has persistently launched sharp criticisms of Arabs and Muslims via its politicians, writers, journalists, and even artists, in order to weaken, or even eliminate, their sensitivity towards dealing with the crisis in Darfur. In return, Arab writers, commentators, and sometimes even politicians have persistently enquired about the secret behind the West’s support of the Darfur locals, and their interest in this issue, speaking about the international community’s double-standards when dealing with weak nations.

There is no doubt that the minimum amount of humanitarian sensitivity necessitates the condemnation of the international community’s silence with regards to the crimes committed in Palestine, Iraq, and Lebanon. But what about the condemnation of those who were silent with regards to the crisis in Darfur?

Israel committed massacres in Gaza, targeting women and children, and the Arab public mobilized for the Palestinian tragedy, and called for the Israeli leadership to be internationally tried.

Yet there were those in the Western and Israel media that said that the Arabs’ uprising for the children of Gaza was false and one-sided, the proof of which is that they [the Arab public] did nothing to defend the women and children of Darfur.

We allowed them the opportunity to say such things. Our position, when standing with the children of Gaza, would have been firmer had we stood with the children of Darfur. Rather than jumping on the band-wagon to defend A-Bashir, it would be better to remember the victims and try to defend them.