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“Never Again” is the mantra we hear over and over again, when people talk of the horror of the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda. Then, the World (and in this sense, the World is the International community and the ones who hold the balance of power, led by the US. The World of course is also the United Nations, which to its eternal shame, was able to do absolutely nothing in Rwanda). Yet the World acted in Yugoslavia. More people were killed in Rwanda in 100 days, than in over 9 years of the Yugoslavia Campaign. As Romeo Dallaire once said: "The World is Racist".
We all know what happened in Rwanda in 1994. I will never forget the television news footage of bloated human bodies floating like mutant mushrooms upon Lake Victoria. So many. So many were they, that one couldn’t even see an inch of water in some places. How can I ever think of Lake Victoria again without re-imagining that nightmarish footage?
Now it is Darfur. The World again is being its (or is it her?) old useless self. The World is being racist again. Not only are the people being killed in Darfur as black as night, they are Africans - a terrible thing to be if you want the World to care about you.
What is more, the Dead, Dying and Displaced of Darfur are Muslims. I don’t know which is the worse thing to be in the current World order - African or Muslim. The people of Darfur have a terrible Double Whammy of an albatross round their necks.
In the last few days, the anxiety over Darfur is choking. Sense of asphyxiation worsened by helplessness and the horror of what we know: that time is running out. And why this anxiety? After all, Darfur has been with us for some time. An estimated 200,000 people have been killed in Darfur since 2003. The World has been busy twiddling its thumbs.
And so the new anxiety. And how inadequate a word is ‘Anxiety’. But what word should we grasp and attempt to speak, to express the unthinkable?
And is the new ‘anxiety’ because Hollywood liberal George Clooney spent 5 days with his father in Darfur in April, and in the last few days urged the US government to do something about “the first Genocide of the 21st century”?
Or is it because earlier today, faith leaders in Britain (remarkable, in light of Pope Benedict’s grossly unwise remarks about the Prophet Mohammed; Pope John Paul II, how irreplaceable you were!) - Anglican (Church of England), Islam, Jewish - led by Cormac Murphy O'Connor (leader of the Catholic faith in Britain) prayed at the door of 10 Downing Street. A prayer/letter was also read on behalf of Archbishop Desmond Tutu - you can’t have more moral integrity than that… [I don’t know whether the last few sentences comply with the rules of composition, but what is composition in the face of genocide?]… All these faith leaders came to express their anxiety at the front door of power in London earlier today. They were met at the door of Downing Street by Baroness Amos (don’t know why Blair himself couldn’t do it). We are told that Blair has written to fellow European powers urging action in Darfur. I don’t know that Blair’s gesture is not just another case of twiddling thumbs.
And the anxiety… African Union Peacekeepers have to leave Darfur by September 30. The Government of Sudan (in effect, an Arab government in the North) has refused to agree to a UN peacekeeping force in the region. They are adamant in this stance.
And the fear now, is that the government and its Janjaweed are planning The Final Solution to the Darfur 'Problem'. Genocide! And the World twiddles its useless thumbs. When it’s all over and done with, the World will again chorus: Never Again.
The World is Racist.
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