JOHN PRENDERGAST AND GEORGE CLOONEY BAFFLE HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS
Response to John Prendergast and George Clooney
by Mohamed Yahya, Executive Director, Damanga
Washington DC.June 16, 2010.
As Darfur genocide survivors and American human rights activists, we are very disturbed by what Actor George Clooney and "Enough Project" activist John Prendergast has to say about war and peace in Darfur and Sudan. They jointly co-authored an article on June 9, 2010 titled "U.S. must help stop Sudan's slow-motion war." While human rights activists certainly seek an end to war and violence, we also recognize that compassionate nations and compassionate people seek justice, equality, dignity, and human rights as the building blocks of any lasting peace.
We are deeply troubled to read that the authors of the opinion piece seek "[p]arallel carrots and sticks are the key to this approach." According to the authors, on the "carrots" side, the U.S. should present a quid pro quo with an expiration date by the end of the year. In exchange for peace in Darfur and the South, the U.S. would move to normalize relations with Sudan and work in the Security Council to suspend the war crimes indictment of President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir under article 16 of the International Criminal Court Charter. On the "sticks" side, the authors call for "a U.S.–led Initiative should build international support for severe consequences for anyone promoting war, whether they are ruling party officials, militias, rebels, or Southern Sudan's leaders."
For years, we have heard the same philosophical slogans: "Peace Incentives," "Door 1 vs. Door 2 scenario," "carrots and sticks," and so forth, as if we are dealing with a government of angels or peace-making leaders. What "carrots" or incentives should people of conscience offer to the architects of genocide? If we accept an international code of Universal Human Rights for all people, is there no responsibility for human rights activists to call for action on such human rights, even in the face of genocide? How can people of conscience and commitment in human rights seriously argue for the need to offer incentives to the terrible government in Sudan, despite the massive crimes being committed against its innocent civilians from Darfur to the South all these years?
Why do we only see offers of incentives instead of serious consequences to a government that has been continuously violating human rights and systematically eliminating an entire ethnic community from their land? Why must the people of Darfur have to wait until the end of the year again over and over to implement such empty promises of action against human rights violators?
When will it be "Enough" of the denial of human rights, justice, freedom, and lasting peace for the victims of Darfur for the Enough Project's John Prendergast and George Clooney? How much longer must the world continue to appease the genocidal regime of Khartoum and give them time and promotions to continue to strengthen their ability to stay in power to humiliate our people forever? It is unbelievable to hear such recommendations from influential activists and actors, who have visited Darfur refugees a couple of times in Chad or Darfur and who have gained all the respect from all of us for their dedication to fight against those obsessed persistent criminals of our time.
They suggest unbearable ideas to push the U.S. government to move towards normalizing relations with the indicted criminals in Sudan in exchange for peace in Darfur and South Sudan. They further call for the suspension of "the war crimes indictment of President Al-Bashir under Article 16 of the ICC-the International Criminal Court charter." Do such activists believe that after all the destruction and obstruction by such architects of genocide that the world should simply ignore Mr. Al-Bashir's crimes? Should such an indictment be dismissed against Al-Bashir because he is a "peace-maker?"
Mr. Clooney and Prendergast, this will never happen on our watch. We can't let criminals who killed millions in Darfur and South and all Sudan to walk away free of charges. That would be a terrible, intolerable mistake that ever the history could forgive. It is our responsibility as civilized people and democratic nations of conscience, transparency, and moral integrity to be honest and do the right thing to bring those killers to justice. We cannot have any lasting peace without such justice.
We must not succumb to the fear of the catastrophic war that Al-Bashir would carry out against South if it is separated because of oil. It is better for you to work to separate Al-Bashir and his terrorist government instead of flattering him as the only one who can bring peace, referendum, and freedom. Al-Bashir and his National Congress Party (NCP) are the ultimate disaster for the Sudanese people and are the real threats to Sudan's survival and the whole region's well being.
The U.S. and the whole world will never end this growing problem by only supporting "peace" and ignoring justice. No good outcome will ever come without supporting the ICC first and foremost to do its work by arresting Omar Al-Bashir and his counterparts Ahmad Haroun, Salih Kusheeb and the other suspects to send them to the "Hague" headquarters of the ICC to be charged.
We say to activists that the rhetoric of appeasement for "peace" will only continue to hurt Darfuri refugees and prolong their endless sufferings. Don't do this to those trusted you and welcomed you with cheers and smiles during your visit to their makeshift camps in that remote area of the world.
We understand all the challenges that this country is going through. But still America is the greatest nation in the world and is capable of leading the rest of the nations of conscience to fulfill the promises of change for a better and peaceful world that everyone can enjoy without fear.
We recognize the continued need for compassionate nations and people to seek mercy in the sake of peace. But compassionate nations don't look the other way at genocide. Compassionate nations don't abandon helpless victims and embrace cruel dictators. Compassionate nations must not abandon criminal law, justice, and human rights necessary for the consistent application of law for peace. They must show the world that crimes against humanity have consequences.
For too many years, the nations of the world have shown tolerance and silence to the war criminal Al-Bashir. It is past time for the nations of the world to begin to show mercy towards Al-Bashir's many victims and demonstrate enough compassion to care for justice for Al-Bashir's victims and to tell Al-Bashir and other war criminals "Never Again."
If the compassionate people and nations of the world fail to seek justice, dignity, and human rights in Darfur, what message will this send to those who seek to oppress others and rob them of their human rights around the world? If we suspend the ICC indictment against Al-Bashir, why bother to have international law and a standard of human rights that rejects genocide and war crimes?
Mr. Prendergast and Mr. Clooney are concerned about a "slow-motion war." Who will be concerned about the "slow-motion" denial of human rights, dignity, and justice for the people of Darfur and Sudan?
About the Author: Mohamed A. Yahya is a founder and executive director of Damanga Coalition for Freedom and Democracy. Also, 2010 nominee for Dan David Pulitzer Prize.www.damanga.org.
Quote from the Prendergast/Clooney article: "...the U.S. would move to normalize relations with Sudan and work in the U.N. Security Council to suspend the war crimes indictment of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir under Article 16 of the International Criminal Court charter." The Darfuris that I know, believe that the most important thing is that al-Bashir be tried and justice be done. Your proposal that the USA play a part in suspending the ICC indictment of Omar al-Bashir has nothing to do with justice. The Darfuris that I have heard speak, say "Justice first, only then, will peace follow." The sentiment in the quote from the Prendergast/Clooney article is the most disturbing sentiment I have read by a human rights activist. Mohamed Yahya states in response to this article: " Mr. Prendergast and Mr. Clooney are concerned about a ‘slow-motion war.’ Who will be concerned about the ‘slow-motion’ denial of human rights, dignity, and justice for the people of Darfur and Sudan?” Mohamed A. Yahya is a founder and executive director of Damanga Coalition for Freedom and Democracy. Also, 2010 nominee for Dan David Pulitzer Prize.
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