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Commentary :: Human Rights
Mary Robinson Spotlights Human Rights Abuses in Darfur
03 Nov 2006
Before the word “Feminist” became fashionable, Mary Robinson, a Barrister, legislator and educator, was shaking up the “conservative” establishment in the Republic of Ireland. After serving a term as its first female President, she became the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights. Today, human rights, on a global scale, is her cause. On Nov. 1, 2006, in a lecture at Adelphi, MD, she exposed human rights atrocities in Darfur and elsewhere.
Click on image for a larger version

Mary Robinson.jpg
“Where...do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home.” - Eleanor Roosevelt (1)

Adelphi, MD - On the evening of Nov. 1, 2006, Mary Robinson, the first female President of Ireland (1990-97), and a former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002), gave a lecture. It was sponsored by the U. of Maryland University College (UMUC), an institution with "3,300 faculty members and 90,000 students worldwide." (2) Robinson's talk was entitled, “Human Rights and Globalization.” The event was held in the school’s auditorium, which was filled to near capacity. Ms. Susan C. Aldridge, UMUC’s President, introduced Robinson, who spoke for about an hour. She covered a wide array of topics ranging from the origins of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights to troubled hot spots around the world, in places like Tibet, Sierra Leone, East Timor, Grozny in Chechnya, the Balkans and Darfur.

Robinson began by recalling the key role of the late Eleanor Roosevelt, (the widow of President Franklin D. Roosevelt), in shaping the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). (3) She said that although she wasn’t an attorney, Mrs. Roosevelt knew how to “boss” lawyers and eminent jurists around to get the job done. She helped this team of jurists "to adopt a real vision of values for our world." The global Charter on Rights was adopted on Dec. 10, 1948, in Paris, France. This was only three years after the creation of the UN itself. This is also why “Dec. 10th” is honored today as “Human Rights Day,” Robinson pointed out.

Trained for the law as a Barrister, Robinson hails from the market town of Ballina, in County Mayo, in the West of Ireland. Her parents were both physicians and her maiden name is Bourke. Robinson joked that she had to learn about human rights early on because she “was wedged in between four brothers. Two older and two younger.” She grew up in a mostly rural area, which is within a short automobile ride of the sprawling Ox Mountains, the pristine Bay of Killaha and the Atlantic Ocean. The salmon-filled Moy River flows through Ballina. Its small cemetery, Leigue, located on the fringe of the town, holds the remains of two of Ireland’s legendary IRA “Hunger Strikes” from the 70s, Michael Gaughan and Frank Stagg. (4) Robinson admitted that she has passed her “60th birthday” and is very proud of now being “a grandmother.” After serving for 20 years in the Irish Republic's Senate, (1969-89), she began to specialize in Human Rights Law, while raising a family, and teaching Constitutional Law at Dublin University. Today, among a host of other projects, Robinson is the architect and one of the moving forces behind the Ethical Global Initiative (EGI). It advocates “the integration of human rights, gender sensitivity, and enhanced accountability into efforts addressing global challenges and governance.” (5)

Robinson, a "Feminist," in a then-very "conservative" country, before the word was fashionable, is working on creating a process for having “Human Rights"-the words themselves-invoke “more depth and more coherence” for everyone. She underscored how the UDHR has been adopted and endorsed by every country in the world, but that, she quickly added, is a lot different then having it “implemented” by every country. Robinson reports that when she held the position of UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights, it was a very small office, with little or no enforcement power. She made it her personal business to go to the countries where human rights were being egregiously violated, so that she could be seen, in her official capacity, as identifying with the “victims” of abuse. (6)

Two of the articles of the UDHR have a lot of meaning for Robinson. They are Article 1 and Article 29 (Subsection 1), and she read both of them to the audience. First, Article 1: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” Then, Article 29 (1): “Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.” Dignity, she emphasized, was a “very important concept" to the drafters of the document. All the peoples of the world, Robinson urged, should be made aware that the UDHR "is their birthright."

As to where we are today on that issue, Robinson said: "We know from UNICEF...that more than 30,000 children, under five [years of age], die every day in our world of preventable diseases or...hunger," Robinson said. "This is a silent Tsunami every week and is therefore 52 silent Tsunamis every year. To me, that is a more meaningful figure then talking about a billion people living on less than a dollar a day. We get lost in all of the statistics. But, I think we can all grasp the unnecessary deaths of children--very often painfully. We do have a world that hasn't lived up to Mrs. Roosevelt's vision and [of] her eminent jurists."

It was during the Q&A period, when the controversial subject of Darfur came up. (7) Robinson said in response to a question on its status: “The situation in Darfur is far worse than we are hearing and reading about. It is absolutely catastrophic at the moment. It is hard to explain how much worse it was from six months ago even. A number of those who were trying to help-aid workers-can no longer be there because of security. So, they are squeezed out. Save-the-Children, Oxfam are finding it much more difficult to be there. Politically, Sudan is getting off the hook altogether and part of it has to do with the fact that the oil money [is] now [coming] into Sudan, [along with] the Chinese investment and Khartoum [is] booming. It is though Darfur is somehow a forgotten backwater again. And it is really very difficult. And I do think that the United States has tried...But somehow it is not enough at all. We are seeing the unforgiveable-the never again-again. And just because they are poor and they are black, and they are voiceless, it’s happening. Human beings are being killed. Women are being raped. Villages are being savaged every day and it is getting worse...The United States, the E.U., the countries of the world, honestly, have to, really, wake-up...As far as I am concerned, it [Darfur] is a disgrace! It is absolutely unacceptable. And I don’t have an easy answer...Let’s get Darfur up on as high a list as possible. Sudan cares about public opinion. It’s not getting the messages that it should be getting about what is happening in Darfur. That has to change.” (8)

Robinson finished her informative lecture by reading some passages from Seamus Heaney's poem, "The Republic of Conscience." (9) It calls for each of us, in our own lives, to fight to protect and promote human rights and to be "an Ambassador of Conscience." This year's awardee, presented by Amnesty International (AI), which has adopted the poem as one of its themes, is Nelson Mandela, one of South Africa's greatest sons. He has demanded that the HIV/AIDS epidemic be treated as a "human rights" issue and require "urgent global concern." (10)

Thanks to human rights champions, like Robinson, AI's honoree, such as Mandela, and so many other unsung heroes, the world is better off. The governmental bullies do back off and retreat, but, unfortunately, only temporarily. More, much more, remains to be done in this important arena. Robinson's' crusade for making the UDHR a global code to protect every individual on the planet, as in a solemn and legally enforceable "birthright" is central, as is the need for every country to strictly abide by its provisions, or to face blame, shame and punishment. Only in this way can we end what Robinson refers to as the "cycle of impunity." (11)

Notes:

1. http://www.udhr.org/history/frbioer.htm
2. http://www.umuc.edu/index.html
3. http://www.udhr.org/UDHR/default.htm
4. http://irelandsown.net/stagg.html
5. Pamphlet, UMUC’s “Academic Speaker Series" and
http://www.eginitiative.org/
6. http://dir.salon.com/story/people/interview/2002/07/26/mary_robinson/ind
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/europe/1680695.stm
http://www.commondreams.org/views02/0903-04.htm and
http://www.voices-unabridged.org/article.php?id_article=124&numero=8
7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darfur_conflict and http://usa.mediamonitors.net/layout/set/print/content/view/full/30114
8. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0EzQBICnsw
9. http://thewitness.org/archive/march2002/poem.html
10. http://www.amnesty.ie/user/content/view/full/6425
11. http://dir.salon.com/story/people/interview/2002/07/26/mary_robinson/ind and
http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Heroes/Mary_Robinson.html


© William Hughes 2006.

William Hughes is the author of “Saying ‘No’ to the War Party” (IUniverse, Inc.). He can be reached at liamhughes (at) comcast.net.

Copyright by the author. All rights reserved.
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Defend Sudan from US zionist Plot
03 Nov 2006
Stop the U.S. and Zionist War Against Sudan
By David Rolde, Green-Rainbow Party of Massachusetts

The United States has been waging war against Sudan for the past 15 years, and we need to stop it. Just like with Iraq, the U.S. war against Sudan is a war for oil and a war for Israel. The proposed invasion of Sudan is based on lies. The lie of accusing the government of Sudan of “genocide in Darfur” serves the same function as the lie a few years ago accusing the government of Iraq of “possessing weapons of mass destruction”. The U.S. government, and its allies the Israeli and UK governments, are the real world champion purveyors of genocide and possessors of WMDs.

Sudan, the geographically largest country in Africa and the home of 35 million people, has been devastated by U.S. attacks for the past 15 years. In the early 90s the U.S. government declared Sudan to be a "state sponsor of terrorism" because the government of Sudan does not support Israel. The U.S. government imposed sanctions against Sudan. The U.S. sanctions and trade boycott escalated in severity several times during the 90s and 00s and damaged the Sudanese economy causing immense human suffering. Throughout the 90s the U.S. government armed and funded the SPLA rebels in the south of Sudan in a war against the Sudanese government, and against rival southern groups, in which millions of persons were killed or displaced. Millions of southern refugees fled from the SPLA and now live in Khartoum, the northern capital. The culmination of U.S. support for war in Sudan was the so-called "Sudan Peace Act", signed by George W Bush in 2002, which allocated one hundred million dollars per year to the SPLA.

One notable episode of the US war against Sudan happened in 1998 when the U.S. government of Bill Clinton, with a missile strike, destroyed Sudan's only pharmaceutical plant, the al-Shifa plant near Khartoum. This rendered Sudan unable to produce needed human medications to treat endemic diseases such as malaria and also veterinary medicines needed by Sudan's livestock industry which is a major part of the livelihood of the people of Sudan.

In 2004, during the U.S. presidential election campaign, the U.S. government started leveling false allegations of "genocide" against the Sudanese government in regards to the new civil war in Darfur in the west of Sudan. The U.S. media and pro-imperialist “human rights” organizations (such as Human Rights Watch which is controlled by billionaire George Soros and the Council on Foreign Relations) falsely portrayed the conflict in Darfur as a slaughter of Black Africans by a "White Arab" Sudanese government. In reality it was a civil war among many armed groups, some of which were supported by the US and Israel, fighting over limited resources in an impoverished region. Nearly everyone in Sudan is a Black African. And nearly everyone in Darfur is a Black African Arabic-speaking Muslim. The numbers cited for the “genocide” in Darfur were inflated estimates of how many people might die from famine and disease.

This year the propaganda against Sudan in the United States has intensified again. On April 30, 2006, the U.S. government in conjunction with U.S. Zionist groups, staged a large pro-war rally in Washington DC. U.S. congresspersons, as well as members of the Bush administration, spoke at the rally calling for the war against Sudan to be escalated by sending in an invasion force of U.N., NATO or U.S. troops. Nearly every pro-Israel group in the USA has anti-Sudan propaganda on the front of their website. In Massachusetts an example of a Zionist group doing pro-war activism is the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Greater Boston.

The anti-Sudan rhetoric is no different than the rhetoric that the U.S. government uses against other countries that the United States is attacking. One aim of U.S. attacks against Sudan is to gain or maintain control over Sudan’s natural resources: notably petroleum but also uranium, other minerals, gum arabic, and the Nile River which supplies water to Egypt. China currently has access to oil from Sudan, and the U.S. government wants to cut China off. Destabilizing and impoverishing Sudan serves American and Israeli hegemonic interests to make sure there are no prosperous independent nations in the Middle East and North African regions.

But within the United States the anti-Sudan rhetoric is useful for more than just getting Americans ready for more overt war against Sudan. Anti-Arab and anti-Muslim rhetoric regarding Sudan is part of the general anti-Arab and anti-Muslim propaganda that is used to gain U.S. domestic support for the war in Iraq, continued U.S. support for Israel, and the so-called “war on terror”. Zionist groups in the United States have been purveying anti-Arab propaganda regarding Sudan for many years before the Darfur war, making false claims about “slavery” in Sudan. Slave redemption efforts in Sudan have been shown to be a hoax. Divesting from Sudan is a Zionist anti-Arab counter-proposal to the idea of divesting from Israel. Lies about Arabs divert attention from efforts to end Israeli apartheid in Palestine.

On September 1, 2006, the US rammed a resolution through the UN Security Council calling for tens of thousands of UN troops, ostensibly "peace-keepers" but really an imperialist invasion force, to be sent to Darfur to replace the current smaller US-puppet African Union force. On September 17, Zionists and other pro-war Americans held an anti-Sudan rally in Central Park in New York City. The keynote speaker at the rally was Madeleine Albright, Clinton's Secretary of State, who is infamous for having admitted that the Clinton administration and the UN had killed half a million Iraqi children through the sanctions in the 90s but nevertheless defending the actions against Iraq as worthwhile. Rally attendees were asked to wear blue hats to signify their desire to send "blue helmet" UN troops to invade Sudan. These UN troops would not be "peace-keepers". We can see the likely outcome by looking at Haiti where, in 2004, the US deposed the legitimate government and then sent in a UN occupation force which has terrorized the country and brutalized the Haitian people. When foreign UN soldiers get to Darfur and can't determine which Black Arabic-speaking Muslims are the "bad Arabs" and which are the "good Africans", the UN troops will kill people indiscriminately. The Sudanese people will rightly resist. The situation will escalate. US warmongers will call for sending more troops, including US troops, and bringing the war to Khartoum. It will be a disaster. The US war against Sudan needs to be stopped and reversed now.

Anti-war activists are not working hard enough to stop the US and Zionist war against Sudan. The current threats against Sudan are just as serious as the threats against Iran. Anti-war activists should be focusing more effort to stop the war against Sudan and to work against US imperialism in Africa in general - the current war against Sudan is just one manifestation of centuries of European colonialism and neo-colonialism in Sudan and Africa. The situation for the people of Sudan will improve once foreign intervention in Sudan stops.
Defend Sudan from US imperialist plot
03 Nov 2006
http://www.pslweb.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5949&JServSessionIdr009=8lkx3n6835.app1b

U.S. imperialists increase efforts to recolonize Sudan
Friday, November 3, 2006
By: Natividad Carrera

Sudanese people reject interference

The civil war in the Darfur region of Sudan is escalating. Rebel groups under the banner of the National Redemption Front are increasing attacks on Sudan’s government-led forces.

For over three years, the ongoing war has provided the imperialists with a pretext to justify intervention under the guise


Sudanese protest against U.S.-U.N. intervention in Khartoum.

of the United Nations.

The National Redemption Front is an alliance of rebel groups that refused to sign the Darfur Peace Agreement on May 5, 2006. The main rebel group at the time, the Sudan Liberation Army, and the government signed the deal. The agreement allocated $U.S.30 million in assistance for the region and gave SLA leader, Minni Minawi, a position in Sudan’s government under the president.

Since the agreement was signed, the imperialists have continued to pressure Sudan and pave the way for what they really want—a U.N. "peacekeeping" force in the country.

The U.N. Security Council passed a resolution on Aug. 31 calling for the establishment of a 22,500 strong force of U.N. troops and police officers to replace the African Union force in the Darfur region of Sudan.

The U.N. resolution was drafted and pushed largely by the United States and Britain. Britain was the colonial power ruling Sudan until the country won independence in 1956. It was responsible for splitting the country into northern and southern sections, which helped set the stage for civil war and fighting within the country.

John Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, claimed that the Security Council did not need Sudan’s permission to pass the resolution—a clear sign of disdain for Sudan’s sovereignty.

Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, objected to the procedure and U.S.-British chauvinism against Sudan. He recently told the Guardian, "[W]e take exception to not being consulted before the resolution was passed. The U.N. is a membership organization in which members have equal rights and duties. We know it is a theoretical equality, but at least we should have been granted the apparent dignity of being consulted in such a matter of vital importance to our interests."

The people of Sudan have mounted numerous large protests to denounce the U.N. resolution. At the same time, its government has sought a diplomatic solution to the imperialist threats.

Initially, President Bashir renounced all foreign interference in Sudan’s internal affairs. The imperialist pressure under U.N. cover, however, has forced Sudan to modify its position and permit limited "logistical and material" support.

Bashir told the Guardian, "[W]e have no objection to the AU increasing its troops, strengthening its mandate, or receiving logistical support from the EU, the U.N., or the Arab League for that matter, but this must, of course, be done in consultation with the government of national unity."

In the interview, Bashir stressed the importance of only allowing African Union troops in the country. He stated, "If this particular provision of the agreement is met, defining the role of the U.N. would be feasible. For instance, we have recently agreed to a request by Kofi Annan, the U.N. secretary-general, to send support from the U.N. to [the African Union mission] in the form of experts, equipment and logistics."

Sudan wants to keep the imperialists at bay, but the U.S. and British governments are continuing to press for U.N. intervention. They have used a variety of tactics to accomplish this goal.

Numerous imperialist tactics

The United States government has been particularly adamant about pursuing sanctions against the Sudanese government and demonizing it.

On Oct. 13, President Bush signed a new executive order to strengthen sanctions against Sudan. The order condemned what it called Sudan’s violation of human rights, but its most telling language targeted what’s really at stake—control of Sudan’s vast oil and other natural resources.

According to Bush’s order, "The pervasive role played by the government of Sudan in Sudan's petroleum and petrochemical industries threatens U.S. national security and foreign policy interests."

Under U.S. imperialism’s logic of conquest and greed, Sudan, a sovereign nation, is a threat to the United States because its government controls its own oil and oil industries. This should reveal the U.S. government’s true intentions to anyone who thinks that the Sudan issue is fundamentally a "human rights" issue.

The executive order is an extension of a 1997 order by then-President Clinton. Clinton used his order to justify bombing a Sudanese pharmaceutical manufacturing plant in 1998. The Al-Shifa plant, which produced 50 percent of the medicine for one of the world's poorest countries, was completely destroyed, causing untold tens of thousands of deaths from diseases like malaria and tuberculosis in the following years.

Equally telling about the executive order was the supposed tough line it takes with the central government in Khartoum,


while allowing aid and foreign investment in Southern Sudan.

The U.S. government backed the anti-government insurgency in the south for decades. The conflict ended in 2005, just as the crisis in Darfur was becoming more acute.

Anti-government rebel groups like the Justice and Equality Movement and Eastern Front have ties to the CIA. They have received funding and critical military support over the years in their bid to unseat the government.

Sudan is a poor country that has been underdeveloped by colonialism and is now under attack by imperialism. Armed groups acting as agents of imperialist powers like France, Britain and the United States are not legitimate national liberation organizations. They are essentially proxies for imperialist interests in the region.

‘The imperialist trap’

As in Iraq, the imperialists are willing to split up Sudan in order to take control of its resources and strategic location. But, this is not their first choice. The imperialists, led by the U.S. government—the strongest imperialist power—would prefer to destabilize the central government in Khartoum and replace it with a pro-imperialist regime.

The proxy rebel groups have their eyes on this prize. The New York Times reported on Oct. 23 that many of the groups, "including Darfur’s rebel groups, have national ambitions and dream not of carving out their own piece of territory but of overthrowing the Arab-led government."

The conflict in Sudan has been misrepresented in the media as an Arab-African conflict. This is a source of confusion and allows the imperialists to pretend that they are trying to help oppressed African people. This gives their intervention scheme a humanitarian disguise. The roots of the internal division inside of Darfur are not fundamentally ethnic but are rather economic and social. There is a dispute over control of natural resources between nomadic herders and subsistence farmers. The vast majority of people in Darfur, who are characterized in the western media as "Arab," are Muslim and Black.

Basic conflicts between nomadic hunting and gathering societies and those engaged in agriculture, over land and water issues can be severe. But they alone do not explain the enduring conflict that seems to renew and actually intensify every time the Sudanese government appears to have successfully hammered out a negotiated settlement. This is no accident. The intervention of the United States and other imperialist countries has been a decisive factor in fostering and exacerbating the country’s conflicts.

As the threat of intervention increases, so do the lies spewed by the capitalist media. While the Sudanese government is still a capitalist government with its own contradictions, Sudan is a country oppressed by imperialism.

No one should fall into the trap set by the imperialists. They aim to sew confusion about Sudan by charging the government with "genocide" and getting liberal think-tanks and celebrities to rally behind the cause. This ignores the true facts and context behind the conflict.

They have tried similar ploys with success in Iraq and the former Yugoslavia.

What they leave out is their role as primary antagonists whose overarching goal is to recolonize Sudan and steal its resources.

Sudan must be recognized by revolutionaries and progressives as independent state fighting to maintain its sovereignty. Lending Sudan and its government critical support against imperialism is essential.