Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Darfur

A few of you have asked, 'So what's really happening in Darfur?' and I'm sorry I haven't been more enlightening on this blog. There are some reasons for that, including the fact that I'm not sure just how much I should say. I had a run-in with Sudanese National Security in Darfur - let's call it part of the harassment many international people here undergo. They went through all my things, deleted my digital pictures, copied files from my laptop, body searched me, etc. It was an unpleasant experience, to say the least. One diplomat put it this way: "We are challenging the Sudanese government just by being here. So they turn around, and when they can flex a muscle, they do."

But in terms of Darfur, I will say that it is unclear what is happening. It is impossible to say anything with any certainty. Rebels are constantly changing alliances, armed attacks take place by unidentifiable assailants, even regular people have been politicized and it's hard to know when to trust what they say.

But here is the best analysis I could come up with: Might as well read it from the source.

You can listen to another recent story I did, on a separate subject, that of Arabs in the far north of Sudan here.

Otherwise, things are going well in Sudan. The last few days had been a bit rough, but things are getting better now.

Me and Stephane (my roommate)'s biggest struggle right now has been getting our money back after a man on the street gave us a fridge that didn't work. This comes in fourth on my worst experiences in Sudan (after being robbed, the visa sagas, and being harrassed by National Security). We have been fighting with him for 3 weeks to either fix the thing or give us our money back. But he is totally a "con" as we say in French, and just blowing us off. It's such a frustrating feeling screaming at someone who just doesn't give a damn. Going to the police is likely a waste of time, and now we have resorted to accepting assistance from the butcher across the street who offered to have his friend fix the fridge because he pittied us - we'll see if he's playing us too. Stupid Heba still hasn't learned not to hand over cash unless she gets something in her hand to show for it.

In other news, a good friend of mine from Canada is moving to Khartoum to work for the UN. I only met her for 2 days during a training session in Canada, (She was part of the group of Canadians selected for the CANADEM program which sent me to Senegal last year, and her to Kenya), but I felt we really connected. So I'm pretty excited for a new friend in this lonely place. I think she will move into our house too!

And in soccer yesterday, I scored a goal with my head off of a corner kick. It was beautiful and it blew all those old men (who can't comprehend that a woman can play soccer) away. Apparently female soccer is much less common outside of America. Even the Europeans are astounded by the fact that I know how to make a pass.

Anyways, I'll leave you with some pics. The Darfurian town of Tawila from the air; me eating something like sugarcane at a camp for displaced people in North Darfur; UN peacekeepers in Darfur (one was killed on Monday in an ambush by unknown attackers); and finally, just to show it is not all misery in Darfur, people at a camp for displaced people celebrating Eid. They gather in small circles clapping and singing while one person in the middle jumps up and down. A tradition of the Zaghawa tribe, from what I'm told.

4 comments:

teh MLE said...

I'm loving your reports, as always. The soccer story is great - Europeans are definitely more sexist than North Americans (on average) in my experience. You also look fabulous in your kurtas (that's the Indian word for the shirts you wear - I'm not sure how I should refer to the African version).

I'm going to Asia on Monday for three weeks. Nothing nearly as cool as your adventures, but it should be good. Keep up the good work!

Salooly said...

please be careful hun. and show off those soccer skills! miss you.

Umm Fatima said...

FYI:

From the Globe....

SARAH EL DEEB

Associated Press

October 12, 2008 at 6:07 PM EDT

CAIRO, Egypt — Arab justice ministers said Sunday that an arrest warrant for the Sudanese president requested by the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has “no sound legal basis.”

The group's statement, issued after a day-long meeting in the Egyptian capital of Cairo, was a show of support for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is the first sitting head of state to face genocide charges.

Mr. al-Bashir has dismissed ICC charges that he directed mass killings in Darfur as politically motivated and aimed at destabilizing his government. Sudanese officials have lobbied African and Arab governments to support Mr. al-Bashir by calling for the ICC to freeze the prosecution process.

Head ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has asked judges to issue an arrest warrant for al-Bashir, but no decision has been announced.

The group of Arab justice ministers said it “rejects attempts to politicize the principles of international justice” and stated that the ICC prosecutor's request “has no sound legal basis.”

They also said they would support efforts under way to freeze the prosecution process, although the language was more watered down than the Sudanese government had requested.

Sudanese Justice Minister Abdel Basset Sabdarat said he thought the statement was “moderate.” Sudan doesn't recognize the authority of the court and has said it will not deal with the prosecutor or hand over any Sudanese.

In a separate case, the court has also charged Sudan's current Minister of Humanitarian Affairs Ahmed Haroun and janjaweed militia member Ali Kushayeb with murder, rape and forced expulsion of civilians in Darfur.

Up to 300,000 people have been killed and more than 2.5 million chased from their homes since the conflict in Sudan's western Darfur region began in 2003.

Mr. Sabdarat said Sunday that Mr. Kushayeb is in government custody and will be tried in Sudan's domestic courts.

“He is under investigation. He will be held accountable,” Mr. Sabdarat told The Associated Press.

The Arab justice ministers praised Sudan's efforts to pursue justice domestically, saying Sudan has created specialized courts to look into Darfur-related crimes and has appointed a special prosecutor to look into cases.

But no new Darfur-related criminal trials have yet been officially announced, and human rights groups have said Sudan's legal system is not equipped to handle genocide or war crimes trials.

Asif said...

OMG... you have a special voice when you report the news. I didn't even recognize that was you in the clip in the Christian Science Monitor article until you said so in the end. I'm a little late in commenting on this, but I wouldn't worry about the Fridge hustle. I almost never get scammed, but when I was in Prague (which is quite a developed place actually) I used a street money changer and essentially gave him 100Euros! He gave me what seemed like a great conversion rate, but instead of giving me Czech Krones which are like 12-1EU, he gave me Hungarian Franks which were about 150-1 :s (and now after their banks have collapsed it looks like it is at 260-1, so they are even worth less.. lol worthless). Yeah, I hate those scammers!

That was quite story of the National security giving you the shake down. I didn't realize that there would be problems like that in the area you are. And robbed? Wow, I gotta go back and read what happened there. Ok, now I'm rambling a bit, but I'm super glad you are coming back in a month. I hope you have a safe and successful last month!

Asif