A Vision of Chaos

I would like to take a moment away from the focus on Darfur to highlight the worrying events of the past week in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. While Stand focuses almost exclusively on Darfur and Sudan in its activities (with good reason), it is important to our fundamental mission of making preventing genocide a cornerstone of Canadian foreign policy to stay informed about all pertinent events in the world.

For those who don't know, over the past week the eastern region of North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has embarked on a spiraling descent into further violence and chaos. North Kivu is a resource-rich area that has been more or less at the center of the various wars and violent conflicts in the region since the end of the Rwandan genocide in 1994 (many of the Hutus responsible for the Rwandan genocide fled to this region). Last year, a mortality survey conducted by the International Rescue Committee concluded that 5.4 MILLION people have died as a result of war and violence in the DRC since 1998. That's the most amount of people killed in a conflict since World War II. DRC currently plays host to the largest peacekeeping force in the world, at 17,000.

The most recent bout of fighting began in late August when a peace agreement between the government and a rebel group led by Gen. Laurent Nkunda collapsed. Since then some 250,000 people have been forced to flee their homes.

In the past week the situation has deteriorated dramatically due to a very serious and well-crafted offensive by Nkunda's rebels. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes, especially around the provincial capital Goma. Many aid agencies including Oxfam, MSF and IRC have suspended their most if not all of their activities and evacuated most of their personnel. The rebels are now besieging Goma, although things have momentarily calmed down following a cease-fire last night. It is yet to be seen whether the cease-fire will hold. Nkunda claims that he is fighting to protect ethnic Tutsi populations and make sure they get a fair share of the region's resources. Most experts seem to think that he is being supported in some way by the Rwandan government (though of course Rwanda denies this).

Unfortunately, eastern DRC must be one of the most difficult regions in the world to provide minimum standards of protection, with its volatile mix of ex-genocidaires, ethnic tensions, warlords, resources, weak and corrupt government, and interfering neighbors. Outside interference and interventions are difficult enough in a case like Sudan where its more obvious who "the enemy" is. In North Kivu government soldiers have been accused of raping, pillaging and killing civilians as they flee in the face of the better-trained enemy. The rebels also commit horrible acts of violence and are responsible for the majority of the displacement. The UN peacekeeping force (MONUC) has had some notable successes in the past, including by enforcing agreements with gunships at times, an approach to peacekeeping that would more accurately be called "peacemaking" or "peace enforcing" and is controversial to say the least.

So what can we do? Not much, unfortunately. The first thing I would recommend to everybody is to get informed. Do some research, find out about the situation, ask your professors about it. Also, a letter to a newspaper or politician is never a bad idea when trying to bring attention to a bad situation. Getting attention to the conflict is definitely the first step.

I would welcome anybody else's thoughts in the comments section about what we can do to help settle the conflict and prevent the deadly violence that seems all too often to consume the DRC. Continue reading this article...

A Few Items of Interest

I would just like to highlight a few items from Save Darfur Canada (SDC).

1. SDC just announced the Darfur Challenge, a fundraising competition for elementary, middle and high schoolers. Check it out or get involved here.

2. I just received a mailing from SDC called the Darfur Advocacy News which has the following to say about Stand Canada's election performance:

Stand Canada acheived some important successes over the course of this election. Notably, their new elections website and blog. 51 candidates who publicly expressed their support for Stand`s Speak the name! campaign were elected across the country, including 8 Members of Parliament (MPs) from the Conservative Party, 27 from the Liberal Party, 14 from the NDP and 2 from the Bloc Québécois.

They also give a shout-out to the blog!

3. At the end of the mailing they point out a few upcoming events:
- US Save Darfur Coalition national conference, Nov. 7-9 in Washington D.C. (apparently FREE)
- 2008 Annual Royal Society of Canada Symposium: The Cultures of War and Peace, Ottawa, Nov. 14;
Holocaust Memorial Week Toronto, November 2nd to 9th :
Save Darfur Human Rights Fair Kitchener - Waterloo, November 28th
Continue reading this article...

Canada Gives Turabi Something to Remember

When studying Sudan, there are a few names that keep appearing over and over again: Omar al-Bashir, John Garang, Sadiq al-Mahdi and Hassan al-Turabi, to name a few.

The last one, Hassan al-Turabi, is arguably the father of Sudan as it now looks. It was Turabi who was the force behind implementing shari'a (Muslim law) in the North of Sudan and who led the Islamist movement that ended up dominating the political scene. It was his ideology that inspired Omar al-Bashir to take charge of the country in 1989. He remained the real power behind Bashir for about a decade. In fact, it was Turabi who invited Osama Bin Laden to hang out in Sudan in the mid-1990s.

It was also Turabi who inspired and taught Khalid Ibrahim, the leader of the Justice and Equality Movement. I even heard an expert on Darfur once suggest that Turabi was a big force behind the Darfur uprising of 2003-4, which he encouraged in a bid to gain leverage over Bashir while the two men were struggling for power. Now, I believe, he is under house arrest in Khartoum after splitting with the ruling coalition of Bashir (the NCP) in 1999.

Anyway, I bring him up because I just came across a surprising story about Hassan al-Turabi's last trip to Canada. Turabi, the man of power behind so many events in Sudan over the past 30 years, was visiting the country in 1992 when he was suddenly beaten up in the Ottawa airport by a black belt in karate. Apparently, the former Sudanese martial arts champion just happened to be walking through Ottawa airport when he saw the man whom he blamed for so many of Sudan's problems and decided to give him a few karate chops to the head. Turabi ended up with serious injuries and stayed in the hospital for four weeks. The BBC also mentions the incident.

Now while I don't think we can include karate chops as a suggestion in our policy prescriptions, it is a telling story about some of the anger that has built up against members of the northern elite over the last 50 years of mismanagement.

Needless to say, I don't think Turabi'll be visiting Canada again in the near future... Continue reading this article...

Walking 4 Darfur in Winnipeg

Check out this article in the Jewish Tribune on Winnipeg's Walk 4 Darfur. While I personally was not in the area to partake, it sounds like it was a great event with some 500 people in attendance. Special shout out goes to Bobbie Whitman for "doing a fan-tab-ulous job with the event." Continue reading this article...

A Blogger in Darfur

Everyone interested in an in-depth look at Darfur from a counter-insurgency perspective should really check out the commentary over on one of my favorite blogs, Abu Muqawama. It's really interesting to hear the perspective of someone who was recently "on the ground" in Darfur and Khartoum, talking with rebels, government officials, and Khartoum residents. There are three different sections to the commentary, all of which give the sort of eye-witness accounts and analysis that we haven't seen enough of in relation to Darfur.

Worth checking out. Continue reading this article...

Have Spoken the Name...and Were Elected

This (hopefully) should be the first of many posts following up on the elections last month. Stand'ers were out in big numbers all over the country, hosting events with candidates, asking candidates tough questions on Sudan, volunteering with big supporters of Stand, and generally making some noise over Darfur. For some evidence, see some of the 30 or so posts on this blog...

...And it was a big success. 51 friends and supporters of Stand were elected across the country, including 8 members of the Conservative Party, 27 members of the Liberal Party, 14 from the NDP, and 2 from the Bloc. These were all candidates who mentioned Darfur or Sudan and helped to make it an election issue this year.

So congratulations to Stand'ers and Stand supporters across the country for making a difference in this year's election. Now all we need to do is hold these worthy politicians to their word and help them make Canada a world leader in ending genocide and crimes against humanity.

Sounds easy? Continue reading this article...

Back to Darfur

With all the excitement over the elections over the past few weeks, events in Sudan have been a little ignored. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that the situation has improved at all. In fact, it may just be getting worse again.

To update everyone on the situation, I would like to highlight an article in the Christian Science Monitor from last week:

"Last month saw heavy fighting between government troops and rebel factions in North Darfur. Many of the areas targeted by the government were under control of the only rebel group to have made peace with the government in 2006, contrary to the agreement's cease-fire. Tens of thousands of Darfuris are believed to have been displaced, many of them still hiding in the mountains afraid the bomb-dropping Antonov planes will return...

...Analysts have characterized the current conflict as low-level, compared to the height of the conflict in 2003-04, when government troops and allied militias allegedly burned villages, raped women, and looted animals en masse. But many Darfuris say the conflict is worse today than it was almost five years ago. Rape, looting, and killing by government police are weekly occurrences in camps for the displaced, residents say...

..."People who have been here a long time say this conflict is as bad now as it has ever been," one UN official said. "Things are going to worse before they get better."

So business as usual in Darfur. The government threatens and attacks people in the camps for displaced people. Humanitarian organizations which are supporting millions of people with life-saving work are constantly harassed and pressured to leave. Lawlessness and insecurity are the name of the game.

Meanwhile, in what has become almost a signature move, Omar al-Bashir, the president of Sudan, is once again making a mockery of international peace and justice. This time, he has convened a conference in Khartoum to elaborate a comprehensive vision for peace in Darfur. The only problem: no rebels were invited. None. Zero. Zilch.

Not surprisingly, I don't have a lot of faith in this initiative, which seems very clearly designed to try to deflect the possibility of an arrest warrant against the President from the International Criminal Court. That said, there are a lot of actors involved, including the members of the African Union, the Arab League (traditional Bashir supporters), some civil groups, and international mediators, so wouldn't it be great if I were proven wrong? As I've mentioned before, I think it would be amazing if Sudan's own fledgling civil society were gradually able to hold some sort of peaceful influence on the government. Still, I wouldn't hold your breath...
Continue reading this article...

Speak the Name Rewards

As part of the Speak the Name campaign, Stand'ers have offered publicity as well as the occasional volunteers to politicians who talk about the issue of Darfur on the campaign trail. Here's a picture of Stand's own Ben Fine with Borys Wrzesnewskyj, the Liberal candidate for Etobicoke, in exchange for his past commitments to Sudan and Darfur.

Well done, guys!
Continue reading this article...

They Just Keep Coming: David McGuinty

Here's a Letter about Darfur from David McGuinty, the incumbent candidate for Ottawa-South:

October 11, 2008

Dear Stand Canada,

I appreciate having the opportunity to meet with you to discuss the tragedy in Sudan. The brutality in Sudan has reached staggering proportions. Civilians have starved, been beaten and raped, and hundreds of thousands have died of malnutrition, disease, neglect or violence. Millions more have been displaced. We must work to end this crisis.

Upon re-election I will work with my Liberal colleagues to try to mitigate an all-party caucus to address the crisis in Darfur. Many Liberal Caucus members, myself included, have already called for a comprehensive policy for Darfur. Among these measures is the appointment of a high-level regional coordinator. We have also called for an increase of Canadian aid to Africa.

I will lobby for increased resources and support to the UNAMID mission. Deployed January 2008 the UNAMID mission is mandated to protect civilians and uphold the Darfur Peace Agreement. Canada has a duty to ensure this mission succeeds, and a Liberal government will ensure Canada does its part. As a first step, a Liberal government will contribute badly needed resources for the mission, so it can contract the tactical and heavy lift helicopters it needs. I will also encourage our United Nations ambassador to re-energize the Darfur peace process through the US-Norway-Canada UN contact group, and also to re-engage China.

I will push to send more Canadian expert staff to the region for professional capacity building. I have spent much of my life designing and teaching programs for mid-career legal professionals throughout the developing world. By training mid-career professionals in key areas, such as education, law, and governance, Canada can play a crucial role in fostering local civil society and stability. We need to train the leaders of Sudan for tomorrow, so they can gain the expertise they need to succeed.

I look forward to continuing to work with you on these issues in the future.

Kind regards,

David McGuinty

Continue reading this article...

Paul Dewar

This just in from Paul Dewar, NDP candidate seeking re-election from Ottawa-Centre:

Thank you for writing regarding Canada`s role in the crisis in Darfur. It
is an issue that I have worked hard on in Parliament.

New Democrats are united in their support for all efforts to end the
violence against civilians in the Darfur region. We continue to support the
work of STAND and the Sudanese Diaspora to keep the Sudan crisis on the
Canadian government's agenda.

I am the NDP foreign affairs critic and have taken the lead on Darfur. I
have worked hard to move the issue forward in the House of Commons by
initiating a study at the Foreign Affairs committee. I am also vice-chair
of the parliamentary group against genocide and has been active on Darfur in
that capacity as well.

There is a growing concern among everyday Canadians that their public and
private investments may be directly or indirectly contributing to the crisis
in Darfur. Despite opposition from Conservatives, the Foreign Affairs
committee last year adopted my motion to undertake a study of Canadian funds
invested in Sudan and explore legislative initiatives to regulate such
investments in light of the worsening crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan.

In May of this year, we called on the Harper Conservative's take leadership.
This is exactly the kind of peacekeeping role that Canadians have always
supported. Canadians would want us to be in Darfur. That sentiment is found
right across the country.

Our Party wants Canada to take a lead role in any UN mission to stop the
bloodshed in Sudan's Darfur province. Canada could and should commit
immediately to the following measures:

-support the United Nations Mission to Sudan (UNMIS)

-offer Canadian troops to complement the advance party requested by the UN

-push for a stronger UN resolution on Sudan

-offer logistical support to the United Nations-African Union hybrid force
carrying out its mandate to protect the population in Darfur.

I will continue to speak out on both Canadian and international inaction on
Darfur and will support all efforts to bring peace to this tragically
neglected region.

Thanks again for writing, and I hope I can count on your support on October

Paul Dewar

Continue reading this article...

One from Todd Smith

Here's a heartfelt note from Todd Smith, Green Party candidate for Miramichi:

I would like to thank you for your efforts!

I am ashamed by the yearly abandonment of
peacekeeping. The conflict of Darfur is not 'another' conflict in
Africa, the history of weapon build up from Cold War politics along
with global warming has played an important role in the development of
the violence.

We must recognize that our nations actions as a Western
cold war ally have contributed to the flooding of weapons in the Darfur
region, along with major contribution to Global Warming. It is
difficult to label the conflict as Genocide as the Janjaweed's desires
are to seize lands not destroy another ethnic group. First and foremost
it is depressing that the purely academic debate of labels has such
political power.

These crimes against humanity are frightening and the
UN and Canada must commit to aiding the Africa Union. I believe that
the diplomacy is where we must move towards, me must be willing to
place Canadian peace keepers feet on the ground in order to provide
opportunity for realistic negotiations.

I believe Canada's foreign
policy should turn back to Mackenzie King's vision of a middle power,
one which promotes peace negotiations. In the meantime with true UN-AU
commitment we can stop the current violation of women and children
until a resolution can be negotiated.


Todd Smith
Rape of a Nation's women, is the rape of a nation, an ever lasting
crime, a crime against humanity.

Miramichi - Green Party Continue reading this article...

Talking It Up: Irwin Cotler in the National Post

Irwin Cotler has an op-ed in the National Post today entitled "The Issue this Election Forgot." In case you can't tell from the title, this article is right up our alley (e.g. see every other post on this blog). Below are a few excerpts and comments:

In this federal election campaign, important questions about Darfur need to be addressed by the leaders of Canada's major parties: How do we respond to the Sudanese government beginning its sixth year of genocidal warfare by launching ferocious ground and air assaults on its African civilian populations? How do we protect the Darfurian people as the Sudanese government attempts to destroy the relief efforts set up to offer food and shelter to those in need? How do we reassure aid workers whose own lives are threatened by a government-orchestrated campaign of terror? How do we respond to the bloodshed in the Kalma displaced persons camp last month, where the Sudanese government killed 31 people, including 17 women and children?...

...As I have previously recommended, what is desperately needed now is a "Darfur Summit" convening the leadership of the African Union, the European Union, the UN, the Arab League, NATO and the Sudanese government, to implement a "Save Darfur/ Sudan" action plan. This would include the urgent mobilization and effective deployment of the UN-African Union protection force, which could include the 10,000 South Sudan volunteer peacekeepers who are ready to act, the enhancement of humanitarian assistance and protection of aid workers, the rescue of the Darfur Peace Process and the North-South Comprehensive Peace Agreement, both of which are in a coma, the leveraging of China to end its arms sales to Darfur and the implementation of a no-fly zone to stop the indiscriminate bombing of civilian villages.

I have stressed numerous times on this blog that the biggest problem with the international response to Darfur (that is, other than the obvious ones) is a lack of Consistency. There is no strategy, no unity, and no coherency. Cotler's suggestions are precisely the sort of thing the situation needs for the international community to develop a strategic plan that encompasses diplomacy, justice, military protection, and humanitarian concerns. For example, a large group of nations standing together and saying to the Government of Sudan, "you will be supported if you stop the bombings, proceed with elections, hand over international criminals, etc, but you will be punished in these specific ways if you don't."

My only concern with the idea of a "Darfur Summit" is that it would likely be co-opted before it even began by the Government of Sudan's friends in China, the AU, the Arab League and elsewhere. Basically, President Bashir and his cronies have shown a remarkable ability to rally support from other nations when they need it. For this reason, Canada, the US, the UN, and other concerned parties should get together and make sure they are all on the same page before any such meeting (or regardless of whether such a meeting actually occurs anyway). I think Bashir would have a much more difficult time rallying support against a forceful, unified message from the world's most powerful nations.

One of the questions that I'm really glad Cotler points out involves the protection of the humanitarian aid community who are supporting close to 5 million people in Chad and Sudan yet could be thrown out any day by the Government (which threatens precisely that). A possible first step of an international contact group for Sudan could be to make it abundantly clear to the Government of Sudan that any attempt to shut down or seriously interfere with the life-saving aid effort will absolutely not be tolerated. If the humanitarian effort is shut down (piece by piece), this crisis could turn suddenly a lot worse.

Thank you Irwin Cotler for your emphasis of this issue. Continue reading this article...

Another Point for the Green Party

This just in from Laura Bisaillon, Green Party candidate for Charlottetown:

I offer several thoughts on Darfur:

First, Elizabeth May is the candidate who first made and routinely
makes reference to Darfur. She impresses the need for concerted and
effective action in Sudan. You will have read about her ideas and
those endorsed by the Green Party on Point 9 of the Party Platform
Brief, "Looking Forward" at: http://www.greenparty.ca/en/platform

Second, faraway conflicts are the concern of global citizenry for
reasons relating to common resources, ethics, human security, and
human rights. For those in doubt, I urge them to read up on Complexity
Theory. I speak from experience in the field and research in refugee
health in Africa and Canada. I have worked as a Social Support Worker
for Rwandan Genocide survivors in Montréal and Ottawa. I worked in
refugee camps in the Horn of Africa, and was involved in health policy
and evaluation work during the same period. I am personally
disheartened that resolve is not brought to this conflict several
years after I lived in neighbouring Ethiopia. While there are no quick
fixes to complex situations, I am frustrated that this conflict is

Third, I am aware of the links between war and illness, which is a
further reason for *serious* global action to resolve this conflct. I
am involved with the AIDS movement in Canada and internationally, and
see first hand the impacts of war. For a time I was involved with the
Canadian Council for Refugees, and I am knowledgeable about refugee
and immigrant health issues; these are subject of my doctoral research
in Population Health.

I applaud and support you in your advocacy/lobby efforts to bring
about a cease to violence and human rights violations.

Please contact me if you would like to discuss in further detail.

Warm wishes,

Laura Bisaillon
Green Party of Canada
Candidate for Charlottetown Continue reading this article...

NDP on Darfur

In case you haven't had enough of the major parties' positions on Darfur, here's one from the NDP:

Jack Layton and Canada’s New Democrats are united in their support for all efforts to end the violence against civilians in the Darfur region. We continue to support the work of STAND and the Sudanese Diaspora to keep the Sudan crisis on the Canadian government’s agenda. New Democrat MPs, including Alexa McDonough, Paul Dewar, Tony Martin and Bill Siksay, have consistently spoken out about the need for the Canadian government to do much more for the people of Darfur.

Paul Dewar (MP for Ottawa-Centre) is the NDP foreign affairs critic and has been our lead on Darfur. As you may know, he has been instrumental in moving the issue forward in the House of Commons by initiating a study at the Foreign Affairs committee. Paul is also vice-chair of the parliamentary group against genocide and has been active on Darfur in that capacity as well.

There is a growing concern among everyday Canadians that their public and private investments may be directly or indirectly contributing to the crisis in Darfur. NDP Foreign Affairs critic, Paul Dewar noted, "Knowing what we know about Darfur, business as usual is unconscionable." Despite opposition from Conservatives, the Foreign Affairs committee last year adopted an NDP motion to undertake a study of Canadian funds invested in Sudan and explore legislative initiatives to regulate such investments in light of the worsening crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan.

In May of this year, we have called on the Harper Conservative’s take leadership. Jack stated that "this is exactly the kind of peacekeeping role that Canadians have always supported. Canadians would want us to be in Darfur. That sentiment is found right across the country."

Our Party wants Canada to take a lead role in any UN mission to stop the bloodshed in Sudan's Darfur province. Canada could and should commit immediately to the following measures:
  • support the United Nations Mission to Sudan (UNMIS)
  • offer Canadian troops to complement the advance party requested by the UN
  • push for a stronger UN resolution on Sudan
  • offer logistical support to the United Nations-African Union hybrid force carrying out its mandate to protect the population in Darfur.
New Democrats will continue to speak out on both Canadian and international inaction on Darfur and will lend our support to all efforts to bring peace to this tragically, neglected region.

While I believe this position shows a lot of commitment to the issue and a great deal of promise, I have to reiterate the point that has been made before on this blog: DIPLOMACY. A peace process is absolutely necessary, but unfortunately it is unlikely to come about without a consistent and coherent international position supported by numerous nations. Along these lines, we've suggested the idea of a Special Envoy (or even a all-parliamentary committee) to create a point man in the diplomatic effort. We really appreciate the NDP stance on Darfur and like the fact that they are making it a priority, but if I could add one thing, it would be about diplomacy.

Thanks NDP! Continue reading this article...

Winnipeg's Walk/Run for Darfur (with friends)

Guest Post: Bobbie Whiteman

This sunday was Winnipeg's second annual Walk/Run for Darfur. It was a really great turn out, close to three hundred people participated, a Winnipeg radio celebrity from a popular radio station kicked the whole thing off, we had support from numerous provicial MLA's and of all the federal candidates that the University of Winnipeg chapter of Stand invited, Anita Neville, Liberal MP and candidate for Winnipeg South Center and John Loewen Liberal candidate for Winnipeg South were there standing up for Darfur and participating in the walk. We at UofW Stand would like to thank them both for attending and for continuing to bring Darfur into attention.
Continue reading this article...

Green Party Position: David Blair

Dear [Stand-Canada],

Thank you for your letter. I too am very concerned about Darfur. Having been a Deputy Director for 25 years and dealing with social and health issues daily, when I retired I wanted to make a difference a difference and loned CANADEM (Canada's registry of experts available to the UN) and was looking at, offered going to the Sudan to work with child combatants. I did not go last year due to family illness but this was something I cared about. I may still make that commitment to go there.

The crisis in Darfur is crying out for global intervention and Canadian statesmanship. The Rwandan genocide must not be repeated through a failure of political will and heart. Canada must assume leadership in rapidly organizing an international emergency initiative to deal decisively and effectively with the situation

Based on the Green Party's holistic approach to international affairs, using a combination of diplomacy, defense and development, we not only reiterate our consistent pleas for action of past years but now urgently call on the government of Canada to take an immediate 'whole of government' approach to the region and related conflicts in order to force a stop to the fighting and force humanitarian assistance to be provided on an urgent basis. We call on Canada to move boldly on multiple fronts to:

  • Provide new, increased financial, political and logistical support to the UN/AU mission in Darfur and encourage it to accelerate its deployment and strengthen its capacity to protect civilians at risk.
  • Provide Canadian diplomatic assistance as needed and determined by the African Union to keep all parties negotiating towards a new comprehensive peace agreement that delivers democracy, shared power, shared wealth and stability; and ensure the collective adherence to existing agreements.
  • Demand the Sudanese government end its blocking of the deployment and acceptance of the UN force and recognize its authority to intervene when necessary under a legitimate "responsibility-to-protect" UN-sanctioned process and mandate.
  • Demand the government of Sudan comply with UN Security Council resolutions and fulfill its legal obligation to arrest and surrender Ahmad Harun to face charges of war crimes and human rights abuses in Darfur. Sudan has the ability to do so and as a member state of the U.N. Sudan cannot ignore the law.
  • Insist the UN Security Council apply sanctions against any party that violates negotiated ceasefires or attacks civilians, humanitarian workers or peacekeepers and to interpret and enforce its mandate to the fullest extent possible.
  • Mobilize additional emergency humanitarian aid and support aid organizations struggling to deliver essentials to those in desperate need both in Darfur and in nearby regions such as Chad where over 2 million refugees have fled.
  • Encourage the UN/AU Mission to coordinate efforts with the French led EU mission in Chad and Central African Republic to provide safe 'corridors' between refugee camps to facilitate increased protection of, and delivery of, international aid and encourage the governments of Chad and the CAR to permit this.
  • Increase pressure on the Sudanese government to achieve a ceasefire and no-fly zone over Darfur to stop the bombing and killing and enable safe delivery of aid.
  • Pressure China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to use their political influence to further push Sudan into accepting the UN/AU mission and adhere to all negotiated peace agreements to which it is a signatory, both within Sudan and neighbouring countries.
  • Recognize the larger regional factors of the conflict, offer diplomatic and development assistance to accelerate further cooperation between Chad, the Central African Republic and the negotiated peace settlements between them and rebel factions within their two countries and increase our role in supporting the Great Lakes Region Security and Development Pact to which the CAR and Sudan are signatories.
  • Recognize that climate change and environmental degradation is at the origins of the regional conflict and in light of the recent rejection by the UN to declare access to water a basic human right, the Canadian government should actively engage and encourage the African states comprising the AU and the signatories of the Great Lakes Region Security and Development Pact to declare and enshrine access to water as a basic human right within their respective agreements and constitutions and further act in solidarity by declaring it a basic human right within Canada. Refocus long-term aid on efforts to cope with desertification, drought and climate change.
  • Finally recognize the larger collective need for development throughout the region, the futility of and excessive financial burden of military solutions, and immediately move to meet our Millennium Goals obligation of 0.7% of GDP and accelerate poverty alleviation and development of sustainable communities and strong, sovereign governments on the African continent.
I commend you and your organization for the work you are doing. It will take substantive and sustained public and political pressure to put in place measures that can stop the genocide. I look forward to discussing this matter further with you and learning more about Stand.
David Blair
Green Party
South Surrey - White Rock - Cloverdale
Continue reading this article...

One Week To Go

Guest Post: Jackie Bonisteel

One week to go until Election Day, one more week to get candidates talking about Darfur! You may have heard Dion mention Darfur briefly during the leaders' debates. It can be disappointing to constantly see the crisis tagged on as an after-thought to discussions of Afghanistan, but at least it seems to be the primary after-thought.

In truth, Darfur has the potential to be much more than a backburner foreign policy issue. I've been convinced of this after seeing the overwhelmingly positive response to our Speak the Name election campaign.

In recent weeks, Stand emailed packages explaining our goals to all candidates across the country. Since it's so easy for email to get lost in the inundation during such a busy time, we've been extremely impressed by the volume of response. Candidates of all stripes (though Liberals, Greens and NDPs in much larger numbers than Tories…) have expressed support, explained their Party's platform, and asked how they can help. The names of all these individuals are continually being listed on www.speakthename.org - check it out to see which candidates in your riding are speaking the name.

The election is a prime opportunity to push Darfur onto the political agenda – let's use this last week for all it's worth. Here are some ideas on how to contribute:

- Attend all-candidate debates (there will be tons of them this week!) and try to get a question in on Darfur (or even just one on foreign policy going beyond Afghanistan!)
- Call up the campaign office of a supportive candidate and offer to volunteer for a few hours on election day. Be sure to mention that you're willing to help out because of that candidate's vocal support for Stand and Darfur.
- Write a Letter to the Editor of your local newspaper and explain that you think Darfur ought to be an election issue.

Many thanks to everyone who has been supporting Speak the Name. The hard work is paying off, and hopefully we'll continue to see the effects post-election.

PS. Check out Much on Demand tomorrow at 4 PM to see a Stand'er from Ryerson asking Mr. Dion a question about Darfur! Continue reading this article...

One More for Darfur: Carolyn Scott

Below is a letter from Carolyn Scott, the Liberal candidate for Sackville-Eastern Shore:

Thank you for raising the profile of the tragedy and travesties which are occurring in Darfur.

The genocide in Darfur is a blight on the reputations of so many responsible governments in the world, governments who are standing by as so many people become the victims, through no fault of their own.

When elected, I commit to working to support real and positive action to stop this criminal action in Darfur.

Canada needs to be a part of this, to show, in real and meaningful ways, that we are a country of citizens who genuinely care about the fate of our sisters and brothers in other nations.

We cannot just stand by, and let it happen – Canada is better than that, and Canadians are better than that.

The citizens of Darfur are our sisters and brothers.

Continue reading this article...

Stephane Dion Embraces Stand and Darfur

This picture of Liberal Party leader Stephane Dion with Stand'er Brianna Ames was taken in Toronto on September 28. Following the debates, we sent his office the following note:

I just wanted to take this opportunity to ask you to pass a message along to Mr. Dion thanking him for mentioning Darfur in both the English and French debates last week.
Over the past four weeks Stand Canada has been working hard to get as many candidates to "Speak the Name" as possible, we have gotten a tremendous response from Liberal candidates across the country - each of them committed to working with our University chapters and our National board. In our mind, Mr. Dion's remarks during both debates illustrated that the Liberal Party's commitment to this important issue goes beyond rhetoric.

Continue reading this article...

Conservatives Weigh In: Rick Casson

Rick Casson is the current M.P. for Lethbridge. He recently sent us this letter about his position on Sudan:

Dear [Stand-Canada],

Thank you for your e-mail regarding Canada's role in Darfur. I appreciate the opportunity to respond.

Canada's support to Darfur has focused on humanitarian assistance, although armed conflict, poor transport infrastructure, and lack of government support have chronically complicated the provision of such assistance to the affected populations. Canada has supported efforts by the African Union and the United Nations to resolve the conflict in Darfur, including peacebuilding projects and diplomatic support measures for a political peace process. Canada assists affected civilian populations by providing crucial humanitarian assistance such as food aid, health care, and water and sanitation services. The Canadian International Development Agency humanitarian assistance program in Sudan is implemented through multilateral organizations, including UN agencies, and through Canadian and international non-governmental organizations.

As well, in March of this year, the Minister of Foreign Affairs visited the Sudan and announced that Canada would be investing another $275 million in the Sudan for the purposes of security, diplomacy and aid. Part of that contribution, $40 million, is dedicated to equipment and training for African troops with the hybrid force, making Canada the second-largest voluntary
financial supporter of the UNAMID (United Nations African Union Hybrid Operation).

Canada is making a valuable and noteworthy contribution to the current situation in Darfur. We are doing our best to balance our international roles in Afghanistan, Haiti and Darfur by continuing to have a positive impact, while not spreading ourselves too thin. If you would like further information Canada's role in the Sudan, I would encourage you to look at the link below:


Rick Casson, MP
Conservative Candidate

It is wonderful to hear candidates from so many different parties highlighting the importance of Sudan. We have always been proud of the large financial contributions Canada makes to both the peacekeeping mission in Sudan and the humanitarian effort. What specifically we would like to hear more of from respectable candidates like Mr. Casson is a more pronounced emphasis on diplomacy and international unity towards Sudan.

Thank you for the letter!
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A Letter from Kitchener-Waterloo: Andrew Telegdi

As the messages from candidates about Darfur come pouring in, here's one from Andrew Telegdi, the Liberal candidate standing for re-election in Kitchener-Waterloo.

Dear [Stand-Canada],

Thank you for emailing me on such an important issue. After the Rwanda genocide, the world community promised to never again allow such a thing to happen. The tragedy in Darfur is a shameful failure of humanity to keep that promise.

Under the previous Liberal Government, Canada was engaged in diplomatic, military and humanitarian efforts to address the crisis and provided $190 million to the African Union's peacekeeping mission in Sudan for tactical and training support, making Canada one of the biggest contributors to the mission.

The Conservative Government, as on many other international issues, has been content to fund existing efforts and has only given an additional $48 million to the African Union mission. The Liberal Opposition has repeatedly urged the government to become more actively engaged in resolving this horrible situation. However, the Prime Minister and his Minister of Foreign Affairs have shown very little personal engagement and have not put forward a single new initiative aimed at resolving this terrible crisis.

As General Romeo Dallaire put it, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other world leaders will have "blood on their hands" if they fail to press ahead with global efforts to halt the murderous conflict in Darfur.

In Sudan, the United Nations faces an historic test. January 2008 marked the deployment of the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping mission to Darfur. If fully deployed, it will be the biggest peacekeeping mission in history.

As I stated in the Record and Rogers Television Candidate debate on September 23^rd , I would like to see our troops participate in missions such as the one in Darfur once our commitment in Afghanistan has come to an end.

Canada has a duty to ensure this mission succeeds and a Liberal government will ensure Canada does its part. As a first step, a Liberal government would contribute resources to the mission so it can contract the tactical and heavy lift helicopters it needs. We can contribute logistics, command and control, signals and intelligence expertise to the mission or provide pre-deployment training to troops from contributing countries.

Once again, thank you for contacting me on this very important issue.

Andrew Telegdi

Boy, with all this attention on Darfur, if I were a politician, I'd start getting a little worried if I hadn't mentioned it yet...
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Keep 'Em Coming: Marc Garneau

I would like to take a moment to give an extra large applause to Marc Garneau, the liberal candidate for Westmount-Ville-Marie, who has a blog post on his website that not only focuses on Darfur; he also mentions STAND Canada as a source of inspiration! While it's always nice to be complemented, it's even nicer for us to hear the sort of things that Mr. Garneau goes on to say about the importance of preventing genocide and maintaining peace in Sudan and the rest of Africa.

Some of the key highlights of his (Liberal) position are:
1. appointing a high-level regional envoy to work with the UN on resolving African conflicts;
2. promising more resources to purchase important helicopters for the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur;
3. re-start the US-Norway-Canada-UN contact group to engage China and push the rebel groups together for a more viable peace process;
4. assist the International Criminal Court in bringing criminals to justice in the case of Sudan;
5. highlighting Darfur as a situation that falls under the Responsibility to Protect doctrine adopted by the UN in 2006

Some of these positions are very close to Stand policy recommendations, which may be why I like them. While we at Stand call for a Sudan-specific Special Envoy, the Liberal-proposed regional envoy is a good step in the right direction, a step that is probably more likely to receive broad support from all parties within the government. And while it would be great if Canada itself could provide helicopters to the mission in Darfur, we realize that the Canadian military is currently tied up with other engagements and doesn't actually have any to spare. Resources are definitely better than nothing, especially if they are backed by diplomacy.

Which brings me to my next point - a diplomatic push. As I've mentioned before, a contact group is a great way to develop a consistent and coherent international strategy towards Sudan. Well done to the Liberals for recognizing that.

Finally, it's always encouraging to see support for the Responsibility to Protect (the idea that if people are dying in huge numbers and their government isn't doing anything, the world should intervene), a doctrine that Canada helped develop and should definitely be taking the lead on.

In conclusion, thank you to Mr. Garneau for clarifying the Liberal position on Sudan and helping to make it an election issue. And a big thank you also to the members of Stand's McGill chapter for making sure Darfur stays in the forefront this election season. Continue reading this article...

Of Politics and Poetry

Here's an interesting entry: a poem about the atrocities in Darfur written by the Green Party candidate for Ottawa South - Dr. Qais Ghanem. According to his campaign, "Dr. Ghanem is an ardent activist for the human rights of all people, no matter the ethnicity or religion."


When did I ever choose to be born

In the heat and the dust of Darfur?

My young mother, barely sixteen

So pure, has been taken like a whore

Never chose to be raped that dark night

By two men then by three then by four

Or to carry that deep shame many months

While the world all around was at war

To give birth to this skinny bag of bones

In whose lips withered breasts cannot pour

Too feeble to fend off all the flies

Off my eyes, off my nose, off my sore

Dancing around as death draws ever close

Who can know what misery is in store

Flapping wings buzzing deep in my ear

In my shack I can never shut the door

They seem happy slurping at my tear

While they wait for my flesh, I am sure

When you next see my face on TV

And you wonder if there is any cure

Take a look at your child, then at me

Is my life worth living any more?

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A Different Brand of Politician: Glen Pearson

Guest Post: by Jackie Bonisteel and Anne Wagner

Stand has listed Glen Pearson as one of our "supporters", but this designation does not come close to doing justice to the London North-Centre MP's incredible work for Darfur. Glen is a different kind of MP – his concern for the causes close to his heart take precedence over any political division. Glen is a man on a mission – using federal politics as a venue to bring attention to some of the world's most pressing issues, whether they be on the local or international plane.

One of the issues closest to Glen's heart is Darfur. In fact, Sudan may be the issue closest to his heart—he and his wife Jane have adopted three Sudanese children. Before Glen came to office, he and Jane had travelled to Sudan many times, and have long been vocal advocates for Canadian response to the crisis. Glen has since expanded his yearly travels in order to bring Parliamentarians, national media and Standers along with him. His hope is that once Canadians see what is happening with their own eyes, they—like he—will be unable to look away.

Since coming to office, Glen has continued to actively advocate for Darfur, both in and outside the House of Commons. Here are some prime examples of his work:
- engaging the President and Board of Directors at the University of Western Ontario to commit to divestment
- hosting many local concerts as fundraising benefits for Sudan
- in conjunction with Stand, speaking to Canadians in a cross-country tour focused on Darfur
- speaking at numerous Stand events, conferences and community events to raise awareness about the crisis

Stand remains non-partisan during our election campaign, but there are certain individual candidates whom we would be remiss not to openly support. Glen Pearson's presence in Parliament is hugely valuable to both Canadians and the people of Darfur. Continue reading this article...