Monday, June 28, 2004

U.S.: We will not be silent about Arab atrocities in Darfur

ABU SHOUK, Sudan, June 27 -- The Sudanese villagers in this western region of Darfur were bombed. They were raped. Their huts were burned and their grain pillaged. Now, those who fled the chaos say they are being silenced.

The Sudanese government dispatched 500 men last week to this sweltering camp of 40,000 near El Fashir, capital of North Darfur state, the refugees and aid workers said. The men, some dressed in civilian clothes, others in military uniforms, warned the refugees to keep quiet about their experiences when Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan visit the region next week.

Darfur has been the scene of more than 16 months of conflict between residents of the region and Arab militiamen backed by the government. Aid workers say 30,000 people have been killed by the militia and more than 1 .2 million forced to flee their homes.

"They kicked us and said, 'Stop talking,' " said Malki Ali Abduallah, 25, who fled the fighting six months ago with six children and a cooking pot. "I said, 'No, no, no. I am angry. I am tired. I don't want to be quiet.

"You already stole my life. What else can you take?" she recounted saying, sweating in the 115 degree midday heat as 40 people gathered around her in support, many telling similar stories.

Near the crowd, however, stern-faced men wearing safari outfits, pilot sunglasses and leopard-skin slippers listened in and made calls on cell phones. The villagers and the aid workers said the men were among those dispatched by the government.

The men also told the villagers that they would impersonate victims when the U.S. and U.N. delegations arrived and tell them that the government had done nothing wrong and that rebels operating against the government in the region were to blame, the villagers and aid workers said.

Sitting under the shade of plastic sheeting strung around branches, Tarni Ahmed, 35, mimicked the pose the militias make when they point their assault rifles. Then she raised her arms and turned up her palms.

"They took the food from my mouth. They grabbed the clothes from my body," she said, drawing a cheering crowd whose members started to say, "yes," in Arabic. Her voice grew louder and tears streamed down her face. "These things are very bad in my heart. I won't stop speaking. Let them shoot me."
This weekend, all across the Arab world, there were millions of people marching in support of the people of Darfur and to protest the Islamic genocide of Christians and animists in the south of Sudan. Police said the marchers were peaceful and that the protests went well; there were no bombs or other explosives, and nobody was killed. The government of Sudan has agreed to allow aid organizations to enter the country to help Darfur and ....

Oh, shucks, I can dream, can't I?


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home