Thursday, October 25, 2007

Amnesty International Delivers Global Petition on Darfur to White House

Amnesty International Delivers Global Petition on Darfur to White House; Instant Karma Campaign Generates Close to Half a Million Signatures

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --

Amnesty International USA, marking United Nations Day, on Wednesday delivered to the White House a global petition with close to half a million signatures urging the Bush administration to press for deployment of the U.N. peacekeeping force to Darfur by early 2008 to urgently save lives.

The petition, signed by notables including Nobel Peace Laureate Jose Ramos-Horta, rock star Michael Stipe, lead singer of R.E.M., and actor Gael Garcia Bernal, among others, was generated by "Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur." The project combines the power of John Lennon's recorded by some of today's best known artists, together with cutting-edge online and mobile activism. Lennon's widow Yoko One generously granted rights to Lennon's entire songbook to Amnesty International to call attention to the urgent situation in Darfur. More than 50 musical artists are featured on a CD and music downloads, including US, Aerosmith, Green Day, Christina Aguilera, Ben Harper and others (

With the date uncertain for the deployment of the multi-national peacekeeping force and new blocks being thrown up by the Sudanese government, Larry Cox, executive director of AIUSA, and Lynn Fredriksson, advocacy director for Africa, pressed White House officials in a meeting to use their influence with key countries for the speedy deployment of the 26,000 U.N. peacekeepers.

The violence and atrocities that have befallen civilians in Darfur since 2003 have sparked new outrage internationally with recent reports of another brutal massacre in South Darfur. Witnesses told the United Nations and the African Union that government troops killed more than 30 civilians in the village of Muhagiriya, slitting the throats of several men praying at a mosque and shooting a 5-year-old boy in the back as he tried to run away.

"The viciousness of this latest attack only adds to the urgency of our message," said Cox of Amnesty International. "Are the U.S. and other key governments willing to sacrifice more lives while the deployment process moves slowly into gear? As a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, the United States has an obligation to use its influence to save lives now in Darfur by pushing ahead swiftly to get the peacekeepers on the ground early next year. This force is the only hope that the suffering will end."

Amnesty International warned in a report this week that the peacekeeping force approved by the U.N. Security Council is being delayed by Sudan's failure to accept the list of troop-contributing countries, and open the land assigned to the force, among other things. The report also said the international community is failing to supply urgently-needed supplies, including military helicopters.

United Nations officials estimate that more than 200,000 people have died in Darfur's conflict since 2003 and more than 2.5 million have been driven from their homes and depend on international aid to survive.

Source: Amnesty International USA

CONTACT: Ben Somberg of Amnesty International, +1-212-633-4268

Web Site:

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Newsweek Interview With Gen. Martin Luther Agwai on The UN/AU Peacekeeping Crisis in Darfur

THE LAST WORD: Gen. Martin Luther Agwai, Commander of the United Nations- African Union. Last week Agwai's peacekeeping mission in Darfur suffered a serious setback when unidentified rebel forces overran an AU base. He spoke with Newsweek about the difficulties of his mission and how to be a peacekeeper where peace does not yet exist. "We are here as peacekeepers, and our job would be easier and smoother if there were a peace deal brokered for us. Unfortunately, right now, there is no peace to keep. So it has become another Herculean task to see that people are protected," he says.

Force Dejection

Newsweek International

Oct. 15, 2007 issue - Gen. Martin Luther Agwai might have the toughest job in Africa. As commander of the new joint United Nations-African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission in Darfur, the former head of Nigeria's armed forces will lead the 26,000-strong force that will be deployed to the region next year. His mission suffered a serious setback last Saturday when unidentified rebel forces overran an AU base at Haskanita, leaving 10 of his troops dead. NEWSWEEK's Silvia Spring spoke with Agwai by telephone from Khartoum, where he was attending a ceremony honoring the dead AU forces, about the raid, the difficulties of his mission and how to be a peacekeeper where peace does not yet exist. Excerpts:

SPRING: This week, 10 AU soldiers were killed. How did a small rebel group manage to ambush these soldiers so successfully?

AGWAI: Where did you get this idea that it was a small rebel group? And these troops were not ambushed. They were attacked. Twice. The second time a large number of rebels overwhelmed the camp. Who these rebels were, I don't know.

What are the implications for your UN-AU force?

There are no implications. Right now, I don't have control over the AU troops. When my [AU-UN] troops arrive, then we'll resolve most of these problems. We are committed to staying, and I hope other countries will still allow their troops to come.

What are you most worried about right now?

A lack of troops. We're supposed to have 20,000 troops and 6,000 policemen. As of now, we don't even know the troop contributors. To be able to perform the task that is expected of us, that is what is my biggest challenge now. The resolution itself stated that by the end of August we would know all the troop contributors, and now we are at almost the end of September, and we don't know. So you see the whole program is running behind schedule.

Whom do you blame for the delays?

It would very difficult for me to sit here and apportion blame because I don't know what is happening behind the scenes. I don't know what challenges other people are facing, and I'm only looking at this from my own perspective. I have a job to perform, and there are resources that have to be given to me. I know if the resources are available, they will be given to me. I believe there must be challenges that all the parties are facing. I just hope that we will be able to resolve and find an answer to those challenges and that the troops arrive so we can save lives and property in this part of the world.

You've warned the international community not to set its expectations too high. Why?

The resolution that created this hybrid [peacekeeping] operation is not a secret document, so many people have read that the force is to have 20,000 troops. I have had telephone calls from different organizations and individuals congratulating me that I now have 20,000 troops. Unfortunately, as you and I know now, we don't even know the troop contributors, so how can we talk about what those troops will do? Those people who are calling me will see nothing happening on the ground and feel disappointed. That is why I have already cautioned people not to expect too much because there is not much happening on the ground.

So you're saying things aren't changing fast enough?

Definitely. I am very concerned. I accepted the job because I wanted to give it my best, and I can only give it my best and be judged by the world depending on the resources available to me. And the resources are not forthcoming. They are not giving me 20,000 [troops], not to mention the equipment the troops will use, not to mention the other staff we will need in the mission. Nothing. So I am really, really concerned.

Plus, there's no peace deal yet. How can you be expected to provide security when there's no peace deal?

Lack of peace on the ground is definitely another big challenge because we are here as peacekeepers, and our job would be easier and smoother if there were a peace deal brokered for us. Unfortunately, right now, there is no peace to keep. So it has become another Herculean task to see that people are protected. We hope the talks in Libya [scheduled to start Oct. 27] result in an acceptable, comprehensive peace agreement for us and for every party involved.

So you must be feeling pretty stressed out these days.

If it were my younger days, maybe I would have been very stressed, but I have taken some courses in stress management and read a book called "Stop Stressing and Start Sleeping." Now, instead of crying over spilt milk, I look at tomorrow and what I can achieve.

© 2007 Newsweek, Inc

If what Gen. Martin Luther Agwai said is true, then I am disappointed that the UN/AU cannot prove to be capable of ending the civil war in Sudan and save the millions of refugees who are still suffering and dying daily in Darfur and the borders of Chad.
How can the UN/AU continue to blame the ruling government of Sudan for the Darfur crisis when the UN/AU cannot even provide the required troops, equipment and logistics for the joint United Nations-African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission?
I blame the UN/AU for the preventable death of the 10 AU peacekeepers that were killed by unidentified rebel forces in a surprise attack on the AU base at Haskanita on Sunday, September 30, 2007.

The fact that, Gen. Martin Luther Agwai admitted that they could not identify the rebel forces opposed to the peacekeeping mission shows that the previous AU Peacekeeping mission failed. The first assignment of any military operation in any hostile territory is reconnaissance. The intelligence observers would have gone ahead of the troops and identify the agents of the conflict, their locations, positions, conditions, supplies and their weaknesses. Then, the intelligence report will be used for the blue prints of the main operations of the peacekeeping mission.

You do not send troops to the hostile territory without knowing your enemies and allies. Gen. Martin Luther Agwai would be more informed if he contacted Mr. Jan Pronk, the former UN Envoy to Sudan, who knew all the warring antagonists in the conflicts in Sudan. Jan Pronk’s intelligence report would be very useful to the commander of the peacekeeping mission.

It is unfortunate that strategic priorities are being misplaced in the joint United Nations-African Union Hybrid Peacekeeping Mission in Sudan.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

What Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe and Others Have Done To End The Darfur Crisis

Nigeria received more bad news from Darfur last week as seven Nigerian soldiers with the UN/AU Peace Keeping Mission were killed by one of the lawless terrorist militias.

The fact is, the only solution to the question of Darfur is to sack the oppressive regime of President, Prime Minister, and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces--Lt. Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir. Because, there is no democracy in Sudan, but a despotic government that continuues to violate the rule of law and tramples on the UN Charter on Human Rights.

What Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe and Others Have Done To End The Darfur Crisis

The most lionized Nigerian writer, Nobel Laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka has been the most vocal African writer on the Darfur Crisis since the National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) (NAS) Capoon, Andrew Obinna Onyearu addressed it in his "DARFUR: A Genocide We Can Stop" at the 9th Annual Wole Soyinka Lectures Series, held on Friday, July 14, 2006, at the Cannel View Hotel, in Calabar, seven days after I left the city. And exactly a year ago on September 20, 2006, Soyinka accused the Arab League of complicity in the genocide in Darfur in a paper he delivered in Paris at the 50th anniversary of the First Congress of Black Writers and Artists.
Soyinka said:
“It is depressing to observe the studied indifference of the Arab family to the criminality of one of its members, a nation historically placed as a cultural bridge between two races”.

“The Arab family has steadfastly refused to call Sudan to order, indeed placed obstacles in the way of sanctions.”

Soyinka accused the the rampaging Jajaweed "devil on horseback" as the “arrowhead of a state policy of ethnic cleansing,” who have a “naked language of racial incitement” with “claims of race superiority, complemented by the language of contempt and disdain for the indigenous African”.

Soyinka did not want the African Union (AU) peace keeping mission to leave Darfur, because it would be “preparing to abandon the peoples of Darfur, leaving them to the mercy of murdering, raping and burning gospellers of race doctrine”.

“When a deviant branch of that family of nations flouts, indeed revels in the abandonment of, the most basic norms of human decency, is there really justification in evoking the excuse that protocol requires the permission of that same arrogant and defiant entity?”

But like the late Nigerian dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha, the head of Sudan, President, Prime Minister, and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces--Lt. Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir, is deaf to reason and would prefer to kiss the dust than kiss the UN Peace Keeping Force. He has only accepted a joint AU/UN hybrid support operation, because China and Russia gave him their assurance that they would protect his selfish interests in Darfur and his policy of Arabization and Islamicization. So, the AU/UN only recently got the permission of the government in Khartoum to intervene and stop the genocide in Darfur.

I had an insider in Darfur who was a senior officer in the military who corresponded with me and sent me the details of the intricate local and international political intrigues of the bloody conflicts in Darfur and I reported the crisis on The DARFUR Blog I started to join global efforts to save the millions of innocent refugees suffering and dying in Darfur. I told Jan Pronk, the former Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations in Sudan that my insider in Darfur was working on a book on the realities and Jan Pronk was looking forward to the book until the Sudanese Armed Forces accused Jan Pronk of "waging psychological warfare on the armed forces" and demanded his deportation after Jan Pronk published thoughts on the military defeats of the Sudanese Army in his weblog. The government in Khartoum forced the former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan to recall Jan Pronk to the UN Office in New York for consultations. And later, Jan Pronk left the UN to become a Professor of Theory and Practice of International Development at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague.

Another highly esteemed Nigerian writer who has become outspoken on the Darfur Crisis is Prof. Chinua Achebe.

"African nations will realize the Bantu maxim ' a human is human because of other humans,' Achebe said. And he recalled how African nations watched whilst the Rwanda holocaust occurred before their eyes.
Achebe said:
"It is said of the Jewish Holocaust that the world slept and did not know. Today, there is perhaps nowhere on earth where the crime of genocide is more glaring than in Darfur, Sudan. In that region, domestic bigotry in juxtaposition with foreign multinational oil interests has served to create a humanitarian emergency of epic proportion."

"The world community has responded to this crisis, albeit belatedly; however, much more needs to be done to address a most tragic situation. When President Bush first declared that what was happening in Sudan was genocide, one African president left his country and travelled to America to 'correct Bush' and instructed him that what was happening was rebellion against the government of Sudan."

"As hundreds of thousands perish in Darfur, it is African nations and their leaders, this time, that have become silent spectators. The African Union (AU) must play a far more central role in bringing about suitable solution to the crisis in the Darfur region. By galvanizing their resources, African nations will realize the Bantu maxim 'human is human because of other humans' which represents the African communal viewpoint."

I have noted three Nigerian writers who have stepped out of the silent crowd of the Nigerian elites to save Darfur from becoming another Rwanda, because they are worthy of emulation.

I have some classified mails from my insider whilst he was still in Darfur, but I cannot publish them, because he would prefer them to remain classified. He has decided to hold on to his dairies and publish the book later.