The situation in Darfur is only getting worse. It’s ghastly to think that we may be watching the Sudanese version of "Hotel Rwanda" or "Welcome to Sarajevo" in a few years time. We should not delude ourselves: this genocide can be stopped. Sudan is not a powerful state militarily. It is arming men who ride into towns and villages on horses and camels, and supporting the destruction of Darfur from the air with old Russian jets. Even simply inserting a peacemaking force to protect the refugees would save many lives. All of this, of course, would have to be done against the will of the Sudanese government and the UN Security Council (because of Russia and China), but I am of the school that believes a state that is in the midst of committing a genocide against its own people long ago forfeited any claims to sovereignty, and that this is the one instance when, at least as it is currently composed, the Security Council must not be allowed to have the final say. No one ever consents to be killed, or to watch as her or his loved ones are killed. And to commit mass atrocities is antithetical to the very purpose of government. When people are no longer treated like citizens, and are disposed of in large numbers, as if they are not even human beings, it falls on the conscience of the rest of the countries of the world to intervene.

I want to see no more hand-wringing from those with the ability to stop this. We can argue about humanitarian interventions until the end of time (Iraq was NOT a humanitarian intervention, by the way), but people are fighting for their lives, and now is the time for action.

From the UN News Centre:

Darfur: UN Rights Council holds special session; Annan calls for end to nightmare

12 December 2006 The newly enhanced United Nations Human Rights Council today held a special session
on Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region, with top officials from
Secretary-General Kofi Annan on down calling for immediate action to
end the nightmare of civilian deaths, mass rape, millions uprooted,
indiscriminate bombardment by Government planes and rebel abuses.

“It is essential that this Council send a clear and united message to
warn all concerned, on behalf of the whole world, that the current
situation is simply unacceptable and will not be allowed to continue,”
Mr. Annan told the 47-member body in Geneva in a video address.
“The people of Darfur cannot afford to wait another day. The violence
must stop. The killings and other gross violations of human rights must
end.”

He noted that in the last few weeks, fighting has escalated and
conditions for the civilian population have got even worse with armed
militias attacking with impunity, destroying dozens of villages,
displacing thousands more to join the over 2 million already uprooted,
and raping large numbers of women. Some 4 million people now need
humanitarian aid.

From Reuters Alertnet:

Plan B for Darfur

 11 Dec 2006 15:07:00 GMT
Blogged by: Nina Brenjo

"Ever since summer, Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has been making
fools of world leaders who want to stop the genocide in Darfur", says
the Chicago Tribune.
If you take that view, you’d probably say he was still doing that for
International Human Rights Day yesterday, marked by campaigners’ calls
for peace in Darfur. The conflict in Darfur is spilling over into neighbouring
Chad, where the government is fighting off rebels it claims are
supported by the Sudanese government.

Significantly, and unlike Sudan,
Chad’s government is willing to have U.N. troops on its side of the
border with Sudan. The United Nations should take this offer up
quickly, says the Tribune editorial, since other options to do
something about the conflict in Darfur aren’t looking too promising.
Deployment in Chad wouldn’t halt violence in Darfur, but it might at
least help contain it, the paper concludes. Some aid agencies are getting a bit fed up with "leaders who
want to stop the genocide in Darfur". The secretary-general of the
Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), which was expelled from Darfur last month, complains in Britain’s Independent
that they don’t seem be speaking out about humanitarian access to
Darfur being squeezed, making it harder and harder to provide
"life-saving relief".

NRC’s Tomas Archer says relief agencies are still being
hounded by the government, some aid organisations’ permits have been
withdrawn, aid workers are barred from accessing the area and their
work is constantly being obstructed. Meanwhile, there are 4 million people in need of protection
and emergency relief in the coming months, and "…the international
community cannot continue to mince words, pretending that the
hostage-taking of humanitarian operations in Darfur is not happening on
its watch," Archer continues. " (It’s) time for the international
community to break its code of silence, and act," he concludes.

The Economist
agrees with the Chicago Tribune about the deployment of U.N. troops in
Chad on the border with Sudan, but also warns about the link between
Darfur and Sudan’s south:
"…if Darfur remains a killing field, the chance of the south staying peaceful is small," it cautions.
Julie Flint, co-author of "Darfur: A Short History of a Long War", complains in the Lebanese Daily Star
about the end-of-year deadline the United States has given to the
Sudanese government to change its mind about allowing in international
peacekeepers. Otherwise, the threat goes, the United States will resort
to "Plan B ". But it’s probably an empty threat, Flint says. And anyway, she asks: "What was – is – Plan A?"

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