Monday, May 01, 2006

Darfur Rally At Queen's Park

I had to come downtown yesterday, and on my way back I walked by Queen's Park, where a large gathering was rallying to decry the 'genocide' at Darfur. Led by turncoat MP David Kilgour, many in the crowd urged the government to stop what he called the "21st century's first genocide".

As it is when I attend rallies, I observe the makeup of the crowd. Last year's anti-Sharia rallies contained few Muslims who were concerned about their rights being falsely interpreted by some culturally biased clerics, and was primarily, to what appeared to me, led by Iranian pro-Shah monarchists. Even though I did not want Sharia in Canada, for the reasons I wrote in the blogpost, none of that was discussed, rather, the crowd (with a few 'confused' NDP-ers), I thought, were most intent on bashing Islam and Muslims.

This year, the same can be said about the Darfur rally. With a few exceptions (notably some of the speakers who lost their loved ones in the conflict), the crowd was anglo, young, and probably had no deeper understanding of the conflict than what was mentioned in the national media.

"It's the Arabs," one latte-sipping student sporting a hippie look told me. "They are killing the native Sudanese. It's like Bosnia."

I see. Where did the Arabs come from, I asked him. He didn't know. Another said the minority Arabs formed the government and were killing the Christian black majority.

Never mind its Muslim-on-Muslim violence, Arab-on-Arab violence, black-on-black violence. Most people never heard of Sudan before. They won't know where Darfur is in Sudan. All they want is the Canadian army there to do 'something'. To go where we are not wanted to do what we are not meant to do and to pick sides in a conflict we don't have a stake in.

To read an 'Arab' take on the situation, read Abu Sinan.

My position: we must strongly encourage the local and neighbouring countries (including Gulf and other Muslim countries) to send their troops in and try to mediate the dispute. We can put some social programs to support a few refugees. But when Mr. Harper is cutting our social programs and environmental programs to pay for tax cuts, we cannot fund any more unnecessary foreign military adventures.

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2 comments:

SouthernOntarioan said...

The person who said it was a Muslim on Christian conflict is likely mistaking the Darfur crisis for the other civil war that just finished in the south of the country where indeed there was a Muslim-Christian conflict sparked by the attempted imposition of Sharia law on the south by the north.

Oh, and yes it is an arab muslim on black muslim conflict. See this CBC background report: http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/sudan/darfur.html

Also see the Feb 18th entry of this for a Saudi's perspective: http://muttawa.blogspot.com/2006_02_01_muttawa_archive.html

Getting the neighbours to help? Like whom? Chad perhaps? Where a Sudan-backed attempt to overthrow the impoverished country failed. Somalia maybe? (no explanation needed there) Ethiopia? Who has been in a war with Eritrea within the last decade. Uganda? Which is still fighting a civil war that is a result of the Sudan civil war in the south. Rwanda? (no explanation needed) What country do you want to bring in there to help them that has the capability to defend the refugees (or IDP - Internally displaced persons). An Arab nation? So when the conflict is arab-on-black you advocate bringing in arabs to solve the problem... smooth (sarcasm).

Funny, I hope you wouldn't disagree that the UN failed to properly intervene in Rwanda to prevent the deaths of millions, or in Cambodia, or (choose any major genocide).

In Cambodia for instance, it was Cambodian on Cambodian violence.. Canada did not have a stake.. most Canadians couldn't point it out on a map.. and Canada wasn't wanted (because most people there didn't even know Canada existed). And yet we sat by while over 2 million people were brutally slaughtered for such crimes as:

1. Wearing glasses
2. Speaking French
3. Having a grade 11 education (equivalent)
4. Being smart

Ask someone who survived the Khmer Rouge to tell you their story. I sure have.

Do I believe that Canada has the capability to go in there and help? No. (not after years of Liberal cuts to our military)

Do I wish we did? Hell yes.

Anonymous said...

Heh.

Well, I don't support a military resolution in Darfur of the same liking in Afghanistan, where Canadians are following American military policy. However, this is one of several cases where the African Union and the Arab League have failed to take substantial action. I support indigenous movement, but this crisis has gone on for too long, and is ultimately government-led. The African Union members are apologists, just like the Europeans were during Milosevic's reign. I didn't support the Nato bombing, but something had to be done. Yes, perhaps this isn't genocide, but the circumstances are grim and it's futile to argue on the criterias of what is/is not a genocide just so an official mandate can be put in place.

Canadian influence is necessary because at the moment, there appears to be no other intenational member who has the credibility to do anything. The Chinese and the Russians are providing the arms, and the Europeans are just missing the point. Canada always have had a good reputation in peacebuilding/peacekeeping missions. It's time to regain that.

We need to make our priorities straightened out. Our troops should be in Sudan, not in Afghanistan!

Also, I disagree that Sudanese people wouldn't like international help, that Canadians are unwelcomed there. It's only the Sudanese government that is not willing, simply because they're running the militias! Sudanese people have been crying for international involvement since it's start, and all UN members in Darfur have been urging the Security Council to discuss and resolve the matter.

Anyway, here's an interesting insight into the crisis http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/hardtalk/4857730.stm

Kapila says, he's the only person to have sat and watched the last genocide of the 20th century, and the first of the 21st. It's a quite a bleak outlook on his profession.