“When innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience. That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings.” President Obama included this brief mention of Darfur in his landmark speech to the Muslim world from Cairo today.
Enough joined the Save Darfur Coalition and the Genocide Intervention Network in issuing a joint statement about the president’s speech. What was a “very good speech in most respects….fell very short on the Sudan side,” noted Enough Project Executive Director John Norris in a post on thenigerialaw.com
Enough Said. “Sudan is lumped in with the financial crisis, swine flu and Bosnia in a single paragraph. This is enormously disappointing given that the speech was delivered in Cairo, and that Egypt is one of Sudan’s most important neighbours.”
Recent news from Sudan is grim. Renewed violence in southern Sudan has been so bad that the United Nations Special Representative to Sudan, Ashraf Qazi, announced that the death rate in southern Sudan is now higher than the death rate in Darfur.
Meanwhile, a team from Physicians for Human Rights released a report condemning the use of rape as a violent and prevalent weapon of war in western Sudan, including Darfur. Read more about these developments in our blog. Read an article in this morning’s National Journal online, citing Enough, noting that the president “has been slow to tackle some of Africa’s most intractable conflicts, leaving many activists impatient and Congress calling for more action.”
From Enough Projects:
What was otherwise a very good speech in most respects by President Obama in Egypt fell very short on the Sudan side. Here is his reference to Sudan in the speech: For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country, prosperity is hurt everywhere. When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk.
When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations. When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are endangered across an ocean. When innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience. That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century.
That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings. So, Sudan is lumped in with the financial crisis, swine flu and Bosnia in a single paragraph. This is enormously disappointing given that the speech was delivered in Cairo, and that Egypt is one of Sudan’s most important neighbours. President Bashir felt emboldened enough to visit Cairo himself in March despite facing an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
No mention of that from President Obama at a time when the entire world was watching what he had to say. No discussion of diplomacy or U.S. leadership of a peace process. Stylistically, the construction of the reference is also troubling. The speech lumps Bosnia and Darfur together, almost as if both were historical events now in the hazy rearview mirror of the past. From these remarks you would never know that the crisis in Darfur and across increasingly large parts of Sudan is ongoing, and deserving of a robust, coordinated and well-leveraged response from the United States.