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Darfur: Talking Tough and Carrying a Toothpick


President Bush says he is appalled by atrocities taking place in Sudan's volatile Darfur region. In a statement Sunday, Mr. Bush said the genocide in Darfur has led to the spread of violence in neighboring Chad and the Central African Republic. Meanwhile, African Union and United Nations officials say gunmen on horseback ambushed a refugee convoy in Sudan's Darfur region Sunday, killing some 30 civilians.

The new violence in Darfur and President Bush’s comments came on Human Rights Day, Sunday, as thousands of people protested worldwide against rape of women in Darfur.

Omar Ismael is a Sudanese and a fellow at the CARR Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University. He said the international community must put its money where its mouth is when it comes to Darfur.

“It is good that the international community around the world is celebrating this day because it is important that we remember that human rights are not observed in many parts of the world, and certainly Darfur is a case that is reminding the world that still there are people suffering; there is rape going on; there is killing going on, and the world is looking at the situation in Darfur and basically unable to do anything to change the situation,” he said.

Ismael said the international community talk of peacekeepers for Darfur is a lot of talk and no action.

“People talk the talk, but they don’t walk the walk. The international community through the Security Council issued a warning to Sudan and Sudanese government would not heed the warning, and then we have Resolution 1706 that calls for a beef up of the African Union unit that is under funded, under-equipped, unable to mobilize to provide protection to the people. We need to provide protection,” Ismael said.

He said while Resolution 1706 talks about beefing up the AU force in Darfur to 22 thousand 500, to date no country has committed a single soldier and given a single cent. At the same time, Ismael said the situation in Darfur is getting worst.

“Nothing is being done from my perspective because the world does not have the political will to do anything in Darfur. The Iraq syndrome is rendering everybody helpless. The international community lost the moral authority to intervene in the situation Darfur and to provide protection for the people,” he said.

Ismael said the international community is wrong for seeking the permission of the Sudanese government’s permission in order to intervene in Darfur. He said the government would never agree because it wants the genocide to continue.

Ismael hoped the new Democratic-led U.S. Congress, when it takes over next month, would do something about the situation in Darfur.

“I hope the Congress is going to do something. The Congress has been one of the first institutions in the United States to call what is happening in Darfur genocide, and they urged President Bush to intervene. Basically, like the Americans say, if you are talking tough, carry a big stick. We are talking tough and we are carrying a toothpick,” he said.

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