Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Alan Kuperman needs to be smacked

[This is a guest post by tas]

I'm about to scream after reading this New York Times op-ed on Darfur by one Alan Kuperman. Let me show you why.

Darfur was never the simplistic morality tale purveyed by the news media and humanitarian organizations. The region's blacks, painted as long-suffering victims, actually were the oppressors less than two decades ago — denying Arab nomads access to grazing areas essential to their survival. Violence was initiated not by Arab militias but by the black rebels who in 2003 attacked police and military installations. The most extreme Islamists are not in the government but in a faction of the rebels sponsored by former Deputy Prime Minister Hassan al-Turabi, after he was expelled from the regime. Cease-fires often have been violated first by the rebels, not the government, which has pledged repeatedly to admit international peacekeepers if the rebels halt their attacks.

I've been researching this conflict for a while and I do realize that there are two sides, and the Darfuri rebel groups aren't exactly heros here, either... But to paint a bad picture of the rebel groups and use that to compare them to the Sudanese government, in a manner which portrays Khartoum as being innocent, is absurd. It's the Sudanese government that has armed and given intelligence to the Janjaweed and given them the ability to attack Darfuri people, and it's the Sudanese government which has used its own airdraft and soldiers to join the Janjaweed on their attacks. And while there are Darfuri rebel groups also forcing this conflict, the fact that makes this a genocide is that the people of Darfur are completely overmatched by the Janjaweed and Sudanese military, and it's those two groups which are committing horrible crimes in Darfur. We're talking brutal murders, rape camps for women and children, burning down villiages, throwing dead animals in wells to poison the water supply... These are atrocious crimes aganst humanity that have led to the murder of over 400,000 Darfuri people. For Kuperman to pin the blame squarely on the Darfuri rebel groups while painting the Sudanese government in an innocent light is simply dishonest.

Unbelievably, Kuperman then goes on to blame the activists who have been clamoring against the Darfur genocide for that very genocide.

The rebels, much weaker than the government, would logically have sued for peace long ago. Because of the Save Darfur movement, however, the rebels believe that the longer they provoke genocidal retaliation, the more the West will pressure Sudan to hand them control of the region.

Hey Kupster, maybe if the United Nations and western powers had listened to the Save Darfur movement and taken the crisis as a serious problem sooner, we wouldn't be having this discussion. But the fact is that they didn't; nobody did. And the voracity of the genocide, perpetrated by the Sudanese government that you're defending, continued. So don't you dare blame us for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, and don't blame us for the attitudes of the Darfuri rebel groups, either. If all of my friends and family were being slaughtered I think I'd be a little defiant, too. One shitty peace deal from an untrusted party doesn't heal all wounds, especially when it's not just the Darfuri rebels that have broken the previous cease fire agreements.


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