Sunday, January 31, 2010

Holocaust Memorial Day - January 27th

Sixty-five years ago from this date Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated by the Allied forces during WWII. So, how did you spend your Holocaust Memorial Day? I failed to attend any local events that had been provided by community groups and Churches. Even the best laid plans are subject to final approval and execution.

However, one must ask the question as to whether these events play a role in our cultural understanding of our modern lives, or as to whether they shape how we view the world. Do we consider the fact that these events in a loose sense repeat themselves throughout history for many of the same reasons? Racism, apathy, ethnic hatred, and simple a disconnection from our own brothers and sisters.

Today, violence of a similar nature occurs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the whole of Sudan. How do we separate ourselves from these issues and tragedies when they are presented to us? Can we continue to disregard these things as the nature of violent conflict and war changes both dramatically and subtly, in a world where terrorism is becoming increasingly synonymous with crimes against humanity and genocide?

Thus, the challenge presented to us by the fading memory of Holocaust survivors and the images of the Shoah is how we will respond today to genocide.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Letter to an MP...

The following is a letter I have sent to my MP Mr. Francis Maude. These folks have been busy of late but cannot and must not forget about Darfur. Please read the letter and use it as a format to write to Mr. Maude, or your own MP.
(Please see and for current Darfur updates discussed in the letter.)

Dear Mr. Maude:

Since you came to our small gathering of concerned citizens at the Genocide Awareness and Prevention Event at my home last April, much has been happening in Darfur. I write to you again today to strongly urge and impress upon your abilities to act for the people of Darfur. Despite the recent US appointment of a Special Envoy to Sudan progress has still yet to be seen. Displaced persons continue to suffer from a lack of protection, and a new Janjaweed and Sudanese army front is being formed in an area of refugee camps that are largely blocked from receiving aid.

Since March of this year, in response to the ICC warrant for his arrest, President Omar al-Bashir has been expelling much needed aid agencies, such as Doctors Without Borders, and restricting of the remaining NGOs. Limited or zero access to camps North-West of El-Fasher is particularly troubling as this area is now susceptible to new violence in the last few weeks. (Please see the attached map showing the access to camps and aid:

In the Korma and Tawlia region, Sudanese troops supporting Janjaweed militia have been again attacking camps and attempting to forcibly remove Darfur refugees. This joint force is pursuing a policy of moving refugees back to their homes, which have been looted burnt and with their wells poisoned and cattle stolen over the last seven years. The current events of mid-September came shortly after this statement from a senior official from al-Bashir’s party on September 10th, “Dr. Mahdi Qotbi, the head of NCP political sector said on Thursday [September 10, 2009] that war in Darfur now came to an end and there is no fighting between the government army and the rebels as it is stated by the peacekeeping mission (UNAMID). [ …] Mahdi also said all the humanitarian and security effects of the conflict started to disappear adding the current stage would focus to clear the camps of displaced population and resettle them into their homeland” (From Sudan Tribune September 10, 2009). Bashir’s government is notorious, as you may well know, for duplicity and deception. The pattern of a state that consistently abuses human rights is continuing to perpetuate itself. Whether or not the crimes being committed in Darfur are considered genocide, it is clear that the Sudanese government is taking advantage of its impunity to commit crimes against humanity among its own people as it has in the South of Sudan and in the Nuba Mountains region.

While we are a long way from ending the fighting itself, immediate steps can be taken by the UK government to ensure a better path for peace in Darfur and Sudan as a whole. A recent report from the UK government’s Joint Committee on Human Rights states that the impunity gap must be closed for those accused for crimes against humanity and war crimes who are just ‘visitors’ to our country. The committee also supports the conclusion that a War Crimes Unit is needed to address the issues of closing the impunity gap and ending the UK’s accommodation of these villains. Making these improvements in policy and practice will go far in showing our opposition to those who engage in these crimes. We cannot allow international criminals to pass through our borders.

The UK government, be it this or the one to take office next year, must act in the long-term to do more to support targeted sanctions against those perpetrating violence in Sudan and not the people who are victims. The warrants issued by the ICC must be enforced with the above measures and diplomatic creativity and ingenuity. Mr. Maude, I intend to act upon these issues today. I hope that you are true to the words you passionately shared at our small gathering about the horrid and inhuman nature of these crimes. Indeed, I believe the power of constituency letters will move our government to act to end genocide and crimes against humanity, if not now in Darfur then at some point in the future. The question is how much more blood will be on our hands before that happens?

I can commit that you will receive more letters regarding the tragedy of Darfur in the coming months.


Christopher P. Davey
Genocide Awareness and Prevention (GAP) Coordinator