“Too long the people of Dafur have suffered at the hands of a government that is
complicit in the bombing, murder and rape of innocent civilians,” President Bush
said at an 8am press conference. “My administration has called these actions by
their rightful name: genocide. The world has a responsibility to help put an end
Too right. After the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, the world’s leaders descended into miserable self-reflection which resulted in a collective agreement never to allow such a tragedy to recur. And yet ten years later it did recur, and now estimates of the death toll range between two and four hundred thousand. If between a quarter and a half as many have died as in Rwanda, then the difference is merely quantitative; in essence, the genocide has happened again, and every government that has stood by and allowed it to happen is stained by it.
This latest ratcheting up of the pressure remains fairly token; while 31 companies and four individuals have been targeted, the Sudanese government has long expected this action and has moved to protect its assets. Nonetheless, this sends a strong signal, and I hope the first of many. It is now beholden on the European Union and any country whose citizens believe in, and whose government claims to uphold, human rights to at least equal these sanctions, and to come together to discuss further efforts to force Sudan’s government to end the state sponsored killing.
Britain’s own government has been timorous in its response – when I confronted Kim Howells on this last year, he fudged the issue. Little of worth has so far come from the European Union. Meanwhile, China continues to invest in Sudan and prop up its murderous regime, and Russia is becoming more obstreperous. However, whether or not we can persuade China to change its ways, or dissuade them and the Russians from vetoing a UN Security Council resolution, we have a duty to do what we can to protect the innocent victims of Dafur.
Our leaders seem to have forgotten. It seems that it takes George W. Bush to put this back on the agenda.