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Friday, June 11, 2004

Thursday, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan came to Harvard. He had accepted an invitation to come, receive an honorary degree and address the graduates as their Commencement speaker.

Wednesday, the folks at the American Anti-Slavery Group (iAbolish.com) had something to say about it.

Many remember the events of a few short years ago, when for various reasons still debated, the UN was impotent in the face of a genocide in Rwanda that resulted in almost a million dead in a few short months. At that time, Kofi Annan was UN undersecretary general for peacekeeping operations.

In recent years, another African genocide has been ongoing in the nation of Sudan. In southern Sudan, culturally and racially black-African Christians and Animists (practitioners of traditional African tribal religions) have been the victims of Jihad conducted by the Arab Muslims from the north who dominate and are supported by the government in the capital, Khartoum. This campaign has resulted in approximately 2 million deaths and millions more in refugees. Add to that body-count the cultural and societal destruction wrought by such a crisis, and you can, maybe, begin to wrap your mind around the depth of the horror.

It gets worse. In addition to outright murder, mass rape as a weapon and cultural genocide, (On my What I Think page, I say, "I think there's no such thing as Cultural-Imperialism unless people are forced at gunpoint to adopt another culture." Guess what? It's at that level in Sudan.) tens of thousands of black Africans have been carried off into literal slavery by Arab militias in the North.

Yes, real, old-style slavery that's been "out-of-style" in America since 1865...

And just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, there's a new crisis afoot. The government in Khartoum has now started supporting Arab-Muslim militias in the West of the country (the "Janjaweed") against the black-Africans (this time fellow Muslims) in that region. An estimated 30,000 civilians have been murdered in that region since February of last year, and more than a million have been made refugees. Government-supported militias have used gang-rape as a weapon, mutilated their victims and taken slaves as prizes.

According to iAbolish: "Sudan was just re-elected to the UN Human Rights Commission, backed by members of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic States. The commission suppressed a report on Sudan's use of starvation as a weapon."

Here is a map of Sudan with the Darfur region highlighted.

Last May, when Sudan was elected for its third term on the Commission, the United States at least took the symbolic step of walking out of the meeting. Where was the rest of the world?

Where is the EU? What is the UN doing? Where is Kofi Annan?

We in America have watched the world, and many of those at home, particularly the media elites, use the UN as a hammer to pound our nation and our President with. We have watched it function as cable for Lilliputians to tie the hands of a Great Nation. And who wields those cables? An institution that can do little more in the face of what its own investigators call "the worst humanitarian crisis in the world" than send a few representatives and food aid. When people tell us what resolutions the UN has passed, and what that body has rendered pronouncements on, they intend for the UN's voice to be a conclusion unto itself - a carrier of moral weight and correctness - the voice of the "International Community" (as if there really is such a thing) as the very synthesis of Morality and Law personified.

The UN's paralysis in the face of the ongoing crisis in Sudan, merely one of many of the UN's moral failures, puts the lie to that vision.

Wednesday, a diverse group of people came together in Harvard Square to speak out.

This issue speaks loudly to a wide range of political views. On one end are people like me, who are tired of people like Kofi Annan who stand on shaky personal moral ground at the head of an organization with even shakier foundations, taking any opportunity to speechify and take barely concealed shots at, not the real purveyors of death and human horror, but at the United States. We believe that the UN is not simply a body that makes some bad decisions. We believe the UN is flawed at its core and that the more people that come to understand that, the better.

On the other end of the spectrum are folks who do believe in the existence of an international community with the UN as an important and indispensable representative. The issue of the Sudan speaks to them because they truly desire that the UN fulfill its mission and do the right thing. They want to shame Kofi into either harnessing the force of his personality and thereby gain a bit of moral authority to attack this issue, and in turn hoping to shame the body into action...or resign.

Both ends of things recognize the human disaster of the situation and understand that something...something should be done about it.

The crowd gathered on Cambridge Common seemed to be representative of this wide spectrum and the organizers did a good job of staying on message. Unlike a lot of demonstrations of this nature, the crowd was focused on the issue (One word not heard from any of the speakers was a common one - or so I understand it - at events like this. You know, starts with a P, ends with a "stine"...isn't a Jewish name...).

It was a beautiful day for a march. Sunny, warm. I parked just outside Harvard Square and walked in to the Common. Members of the press were there interviewing some of the participants when I arrived.

It wasn't exactly a press feeding frenzy, but they were there. Where was the AP? Reuters? The networks? The cable outlets? Not in view. Think it would have been different if the protesters had been decrying Bush for Iraq, rather than a collection of African speakers saying, "I'm a proud American now, and I'm speaking out because I haven't forgotten..." I think so.

The signs were laid out in preparation for volunteers to hold them:

Turnout was a light at first. Where were International ANSWER and all the other groups who are supposed to be so concerned with "human rights?" You might almost be forgiven for believing that a lot of those groups only use the banner of Human Rights to mask another agenda.

I counted about 50 people before things got started:

By the time things got going, I'm guessing there were in the neighborhood of 100-200 people:

The message:

The MC for the event, Dr. Gloria White Hammond, who welcomed the crowd on behalf of the event's sponsors, My Sister's Keeper, the Black Ministerial Alliance, the American Anti-Slavery Group, the Ten Point Coalition, the Sudan Alliance, the North American Fashoda Association and the Darfur Peace and Development Organization.

"For more than two decades now, the government of Sudan which is based in Khartoum, has brutalized the citizens of its country. Over twenty years now they have raised a campaign of genocide in the south, operating in collusion with the Arab militia which goes into the villages, typically kills the men and takes the women and children hostage where they are carried to the north and marketed as chattel slavery. I have been to Sudan...I spoke with a young man who, when I looked out at a crowd larger than this, had a face so grotesque...I'm a pediatrician. I have seen grotesque faces. His deformity was so bad I assumed it was a congenital deformity, but no, his mother assured me. He had sustained an injury four years earlier when he was charged to keep the cattle. He lost a cow. His master was so angry with him that he literally took an axe and chopped the boy's nose off. I have been to Sudan...I talked to a young girl who, at twelve years... was so brutally raped that she nearly lost her life...I have been to Sudan...

...through it all [the UN] has watched. But tonight, we say to Kofi Annan in his role as the leader of the United Nations that the buck stops with you Kofi!"

Read Dr. White Hammond and Francis Bok's (see below) Boston Globe Op-Ed which, to the Globe's credit, appeared yesterday:

Annan's dishonor in Sudan

TODAY, Harvard University will welcome UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as its commencement speaker and present him with an honorary degree. However, Annan's inaction in the face of genocide in Sudan is anything but honorable. The secretary general has failed to stand up to the Arab-dominated government of Sudan in its murderous campaign of ethnic cleansing, most recently against African Muslim tribes of Darfur in western Sudan, and for more than two decades against Christians and practitioners of traditional religions in southern Sudan.

The woeful negligence of the United Nations under Annan's watch is hauntingly familiar. In 1994, Annan was the UN undersecretary general for peacekeeping operations. He received credible information from UN forces in Rwanda about an impending extermination of Tutsi people. He failed to intervene. The result: 800,000 dead in 90 days.

In 1995, 7,000 Bosnian Muslims were massacred in Srebrenica -- a UN safe haven -- while UN troops looked on.

In 1997, Annan became secretary general. Throughout his term, the government of Sudan has committed what the US Congress has labeled "acts of genocide." Seeking to impose Sharia law on southern Sudan and gain access to its oil-rich land, the Khartoum regime in northern Sudan has led a brutal campaign for more than 20 years that has resulted in 2 million deaths and 4 million displacements. Tens of thousands of women and children have been enslaved in the north.

In February 2004, Khartoum extended its reign of terror to western Sudan, where it has taken on a distinctly racist hue. Arab Muslim militias in collusion with government forces have already slaughtered 30,000 African Muslims. Because the government has restricted humanitarian access within its borders, without immediate intervention, an additional 350,000 will die from starvation and disease in the next nine months. More than a million have been made refugees in camps that by all accounts are abominable. Despite UN investigators having aptly designated these activities as "crimes against humanity" and identified this as the worst humanitarian situation in the world today, the UN under Annan's leadership has engaged in relative silence, pitiful hand-wringing, and functional complicity...

Read the rest here.

Following a prayer by Reverend Gerald Bell of the Black Ministerial Alliance (sorry. the picture came out blurry) - "...This is a race war. Radical Arab Muslims are targeting African Muslims tribes who refuse to be subjected to the strict Shariah law. Khartoum is blocking food, medicine and Human Rights monitors from reaching the area by plane..." - Francis Bok addressed the crowd. Francis was a slave in Sudan for ten years and now lives in the Boston area. Read his story here.

"...I'm lucky because I've made it to be in this greatest country. The free country that permit me to turn[?], to become a young abolitionist to fight for my people and to fight for millions of people, twenty-seven million people that are still enslaved around the world..."

John Eibner of Christian Solidarity International:

"...we have a continuation of the genocide process in Darfur, where the Islamist regime of General Omar Bashir and his colleagues have become the number one killer of Muslims in the twenty-first century. Over 30,000 Muslims, black Muslims have been killed by that regime in the middle of what we're told is a peace process..."

Director of Boston University's African Presidential Archives and Research Center, former Ambassador to Tanzania, Rev. Dr. Charles Stith:

"...Brother Kofi, the people are talking to you. It is important to condemn the atrocities in the Sudan, but talk is cheap when the cost is the significant loss of human life which we see....and if we need to do flyovers, drive-by's, drive-ins, walk-thrus, pray-ins, lay-ins, whatever kind of intervention in which we need to engage to stop the murder it needs to be done. Kofi, time for talk is over and the time for action is now."

One of the organizers leads a chant with a hip-hop beat. "Fired up, not gonna take it no more, we're standin' up for the people in Darfur..." Too complicated. Didn't work. Simpler please. Nice effort, though.

Ernest Rudwe Zungoga (sic?), a Tutsi survivor of the Rwandan Genocide:

"...that [concentration] camp held around 100,000 people, but only around 10,000 of us managed to survive...It's ten years after what happened...It's ten years after three of my siblings died...but sometimes I get discouraged...I'm still living with my memories, but I don't want any human being to live with those memories...

...there were UN soldiers...they were passing in front of my house...[I] was thinking they were going to help us, but instead, they passed by my house and they went [maybe five houses from my house] and they picked up the nuns from Italy. And these were maybe 100 soldiers who came to pick up three nuns from Italy after passing 100's of thousands of people that were dieing. They were UN soldiers in Rwanda...Kofi Annan refused the request to intervene..."

The speakers were causing some deep feelings to surface. This African girl was openly weeping:

Suleiman Gido, President of the Darfur Peace and Development Organization:

"...we receive reports on a daily basis...3 million people are affected by the war in Darfur. 2 million people are internally displaced. 180,000 refugees...of which 90% are women and children...51,000 people [have been] killed...almost 8-900 villages of native Africans have been burned...2865 rape cases have been reported in one month...900 girls raped...300 between 7 and 11...We don't need more reports. We need action today. People in Darfur need protection. They don't need your food Kofi Annan...send not only the observers, but the protectors..."

Rev. Dr. Walter Edward Fauntroy, retired Congressman, founder of the Congressional Black Caucus:

"...I chained myself to the door of the Sudanese Embassy in Washington D.C. And when the Congressman got arrested, Johnny Cochran and Ken Starr represented me. And when they learned that spectrum of the American people was concerned about it, George Bush appointed John Danforth an envoy to go there and work out a peace settlement..."

He made a good speech, then he sang a Whitney Houston song. One Moment in Time. The whole song. A Capella (see second picture). Ummm...well, he beats Robert Byrd I guess...

The final regularly scheduled speaker was Dr. Charles Jacobs, President and Founder of the American Anti-Slavery Group.

His was one of the best speeches, and I have re-produced it here in full. Highly recommended:

Kofi Annan is the top diplomat in the world, but today we need less diplomacy and more truth.

The truth is, Kofi Annan does not need to come to Harvard tomorrow, he needs to go to Sudan. He needs to be with the African Muslims in Darfur who are being slaughtered and dispossessed and starved to death. He needs to go to the South where Khartoum's militia has forced 100,000 Shilluks off their land. He needs to go to the North, and he needs to tell Khartoum to free the slaves.

There are tens of thousands of slaves like Francis Bok, still serving their masters in Sudan. Kofi Annan needs to tell the truth: For a decade Khartoum wages what it calls...what they call a Jihad against Christians and tribalists in the South.

Kofi Annan never once said that the war was a Jihad. It's not diplomatic to say...but it's the truth.

Two million people died because of this war. Tens of thousands were enslaved. Arab militias storm African villages, kill the men and capture the women and children like Francis Bok.

Kofi Annan needs to tell the world about Jihad slaves. It's not diplomatic...but it's the truth.

Kofi Annan never said the word "slave!" The United Nations calls them, "Abductees." Abducted people...abducted people.

But these people in Sudan are slaves. It's not diplomatic...but that's the truth.

Shamefully, shamefully Sudan sits on the Human Rights Commission. Shamefully, Kofi Annan has not said one word about that. It's not diplomatic, but here's the truth: If the slave-master, and one who slaughters innocents by the hundreds of thousands...if he sits on your Human Rights Commission, then Mr. Annan, your United Nations is broken.

The United Nations is broken. One half a million people are going to starve and the world watches and the United Nations is broken and it can't be fixed with a speech at Harvard.

Tell Kofi Annan we do not, we do not need a speech at Harvard where you don't say "slave" when there's slaves and when you don't say "Jihad" when it's a Jihad and when you don't mention the slaughter of African Muslims when it's a race war, and where you beg Khartoum for permission to feed the starving people. You don't need to beg, you need to make a plan to rescue people.

If you want to make a speech, Kofi Annan, go to the United Nations Security Council, and here's your speech:

'Friends, I can no longer serve as the Secretary General of the world body if you do not immediately evict Sudan from the United Nations Human Rights Commission. [loud applause] [To allow a nation?], that engages in racist slaughter and slavery, sit on that commission that judges other nations makes us a laughing stock. It's a travesty.

I hereby declare, that if Sudan is not evicted from the Human Rights Commission, I will resign my post.'

That's the speech you have to make, Kofi Annan. And for making that speech, and for doing the right thing in Sudan, we here have your honorary degree. It's not from Harvard, but it's from us, presented by the people of Massachusetts, for standing with the victims of murder, racism and ethnic cleansing. For using the power of the United Nations to stop a genocide. For going to Sudan to free the slaves. For speaking truth to the power of UN voting blocs, including the fifty-seven member Organization of Islamic States. For standing with the victims of unholy war - the black people of North Africa who want nothing more than to live by their own customs and their own religion and to live in equality with the Arabs of Sudan.

Now I want to do one more thing. All the Sudanese people, will you raise your hands? Sudanese people, come to the front, come to the front...

We want to tell you something. The world has abandoned you, but we will not. We are the sons and daughters of African slaves and the sons and daughters of American Abolitionists and we have fought for freedom for ourselves, and we will use our power and our energy to reach out to you, to protect you - our bothers and our sisters - and I call on the people here today to make this pledge and stand by this pledge. This is not the last rally, this is the first. And if you do stand with us, and carry us forward, then we can say, in the words of Harriet Tubman, "I have seen their tears, and I have heard their cries, and I'll give every drop of my blood to set them free."

Thank you.

Inviting the Sudanese to the front - an emotional moment:

I missed this man's name, but I believe he is from the North American Fashoda Association:

"...We don't have the media in Southern Sudan, unfortunately...I was a slave one time, and I almost thought we should forgive and forget, but since the government is still doing it, and the kid's are being taken today while we're speaking, how can we remain silent...Expell Sudan from the Human Rights Commission, not tomorrow, but today...Kofi Annan, what are you doing?..."

From the Southern Sudanese Association of America, Bismark Infaius (sic?):

"...First of all, I would like to convey my condolences, and the condolences of my people to the American people for having lost one of the greatest Presidents of this greatest nation, Ronald Reagan. He had a vision for Sudan, we need him..."

My tape ran out at that point. (Lucky you! This post is long!)

There was one more gentleman who spoke, then the crowd was gathered-up and the march began. I must say it held together pretty well, and it seemed that most of the folks who had been watching the proceeding followed all the way through with the march as well. With a guy on the megaphone leading the chants (the young lady doing the hip-hop thing gave it a try again as well...no...still not working for me) the group of about a hundred people did a circuit of Harvard Square with police escort, finally coming to a stop in front of the exit to the Harvard Square T-station.

See the church in that second to last picture? Walking back to my car I passed it and saw an event still going on. Noam Chomsky and Boston City Councilor Charles Turner were in there giving some sort of talk on "community" (at 10-20 bucks a pop), and I couldn't help but chuckle. Compared to what was happening outside, there on the street, I couldn't imagine a more irrelevant event than what must have been happening inside that church.

Here is the Boston Globe's article on the protest (at least they covered it): Protesters call for UN to act in Sudan - Demonstration tied to Annan visit

Here is a link to iAbolish's page on the Darfur crisis. There are links to a lot of articles and some in-depth reports you can read to familiarize yourself with the issue.

Thank you for reading (or skimming) this report through to the end. I debate with myself when I put up posts like this. Should I bother giving all this information, and risk overwhelming the reader with data, or should I put up a shorter, more concise post that's more likely to be read? So far I've opted to provide the data and let the reader skim at will. After all, there's no paper being wasted here. I hope you've gotten something out of it. I certainly did by attending.

Kofi Annan got his honorary degree, his injection of legitimacy and another chance to enable the elites, the press, the politicians and the world to take yet another shot at one of the world's great hopes for freedom - the United States of America and our President. Yet it is possible, it is just possible, that by speaking, and marching, and blogging, and commenting, that little by little some cracks will form in the dam. The truth may out.

Who knows? Maybe someone could...literaly be set free.

Update: Spartacus was inside the ceremony, and reports on parts of Kofi's speech not widely reported (I wonder why).

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: March for Darfur. March to protest Kofi. The report. (With pics).

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9 Comments

It seems as if nearly ALL of these so-called "humanitarian" organisations have their own anti-America/anti-Israel agenda... because they don't CARE about genocide in Sudan, nor did they care about the genocide in Rwanda. As far as I'm concerned, humanitarian is something they're not, but, they truly are heartless, cold-blooded and uncaring, self-motivated people.

As far as the EU goes:
"Britain has said it will not support calls for military intervention in Sudan despite warnings that a government campaign of ethnic cleansing against black Muslims in Darfur could cause 350,000 deaths in the next few months."
Link

My heart bleeds for what's happening to the people of the Sudan and time and again, since 2001, I've tried to promote the urgency of this on some of the UK's top messageboards - and strangely, the most "humanitarian" of the people who support organisations like the ISM and International Answer, actually stated that they weren't interested, because, according to them, nothing they could do would make any difference.

Imagine though, if the millions of people with their overt agendas for the anti-war marches, took to the streets and demonstrated against the genocide in Sudan - what a difference it could make.

Dear Nannett,

International ANSWER and International Action Center are owned subsidaries of the ultra-Stalinist Worker's World Party. So far as they are concerned, you are just a bunch of Black Christians, who don't deserve to live. They have joined forces with the pro-Islamic movement against the USA, and against everyone with a spark of decency and life. Sad to say, too many ordinary liberals have turned a blind eye to all of this. What's needed is less talk, more organizing of shipments of guns to the Sudanese forces. If I knew how, I would lead the charge. The UN will only disarm the "rebels" (ie, those fighting not to be massacred) and cozy up to the Muslims. You must look to the political conservatives in the USA, the conservative Christians, for help as the liberal-left will not do anything which puts themself in a position on the side of Bush.

Oregon James has a great point. I've attended the ANSWER protests and have written much about their stated objectives and demands. This protest documented on your site is a welcome action, in my view, that at least makes the attempt at holding these people responsible. The U.N. is quickly becoming defunct in many political aspects if it hasn't already. Certainly it is morally bankrupt politically.

Protesters call for UN to act in Sudan
Demonstration tied to Annan visit
By Alonso Soto, Globe Correspondent | June 10, 2004

Francis Bok said the world has ignored his native Sudan. The 25-year-old said he spent 10 years of his youth as a slave and most of his adult life in churches and universities telling others about the war that took the lives of his parents and two sisters. But he still thinks the world is not listening.

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He decided to take his plight to the world, via the front man for the United Nations.

Bok, along with about 100 people, gathered yesterday afternoon in Harvard Square to demand that the United Nations stop the genocide in Sudan and act against its Arab Muslim government. The protest came a day before UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who hails from Ghana, is scheduled to receive an honorary degree from Harvard and deliver the university commencement address.

''This story, the story about my country, should be in the front page of every newspaper," said Bok, who works as a speaker for the Boston-based American Anti-Slavery Group, which organized the protest along with the Black Ministerial Alliance of Boston. ''Nobody knows about this."

Sudanese war survivors such as Bok, former politicians, and civil rights leaders urged Annan during the hour and a half protest to prevent more bloodshed in Sudan, a nation of 38 million in northern Africa.

The Rev. Charles Stith, the former US ambassador to Tanzania and director of Boston University's African Presidential Archives, said the killings and torture in Sudan have to stop, even if it takes a multinational military intervention.

''It's important for the world to know about the human crisis in Sudan," Stith said. ''This is the worst humanitarian crisis in the world."

The 20-year war between Sudan's Muslim ruling government from the north and the mostly Christian and animist, rebels from the south has claimed the lives of more than 3 million people, and millions more have been displaced, according to the United Nations.

Protesters chanted with a drum beat in the background. Some held banners that read ''Kofi, go to Sudan not Harvard," and ''Kofi stop genocide."

Fred Calm, who held one of the banners, said he understood victims of genocide because his father survived the Holocaust. The world cannot stand still while people are dying, he said. ''The United Nations has neglected the issue," said the 57-year-old engineer from Sharon. ''People are being killed and starved."

Tim Wallace, a 51-year-old engineer from Bedford, said he heard horror stories of torture and slaying from a couple of his friends who visited Rwanda during the mid-1990s and said the United Nations cannot let those stories happen again in Sudan.

The world has to act quickly before it is too late, he said.

© Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.

Unfortunately, the people of Darfur don't have the good grace to be oppressed by Israelis.

Its really pathetic the world is permitting this to occur- half of the million expected to die are children. It is genocide by red tape, except if the UN calls it genocide, automatic actions would need occur, so lets just call it a humanitarian crisis that has been coming for months, was fully predictable, that has stained the world so soon after Rwanda. Afraid to challenge the voting blocks that elected them, the UN is useless. The lack of definition as jihad is cowardly- many of these are Sufis who oppose Sharia law. Bin Laden wins again.

Goofy Inane will never direct the UN to do anything sensible as he doesn't want to risk losing his position.

who cares about them whats with all the whites in those pics. i

The lack of any substantive action by the UN toward the government of Sudan while they carried on their genocidal actions against Christians and Animists has emboldened them to expand their campaigns against their fellow Muslims this time based on skin color rather than religion. While UN inactivity is of itself not surprising, the failure of the United States and Europe to take a serious stand on the continuing slaughter is beyond the pale. My small city of Des Moines has sponsored a number of refugees from Sudan, and their stories are gut wrenching to say the least.

"Syme: It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. You wouldn't have seen the [Newspeak] Dictionary 10th edition, would you Smith? It's that thick. [illustrates thickness with fingers] The 11th Edition will be that [narrows fingers] thick. Winston Smith: So, The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect? Syme: The secret is to move from translation, to direct thought, to automatic response. No need for self-discipline. Language coming from here [the larynx], not from here [the brain]" -1984 (film)


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