“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
~ Edmund Burke
“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”
~ Dante, The Inferno
For almost two years the Arab dominated Government of Sudan has been engaged in a policy of ethnic cleansing of the African-Sudanese population of south Sudan. Over two million have been displaced; 500,000 children are near death from starvation and some 20,000 have been slaughtered. And the world remains mute.
The official government position is that this started as a peacekeeping operation to rid certain villages of armed rebels. In fact this was the excuse to empty hundreds of towns and villages of their inhabitants and force them to flee as refugees to Chad. In the withering heat of the Chadian desert these wretched of the earth await their fate. Each day brings new devastation whether from the flaming rays of the sun, or from the fiery retort of a government rifle.
The United Nations and most of the western world have reacted with their usual impotence. Aside from American relief supplies, which the Sudanese government refuses to move by motorized vehicle, all we hear are the usual excuses for failed states’ right to be wrong. Some have even argued that this is an internal conflict between Arab-Sudanese and African-Sudanese.
We should cringe at these hyphenated appellations. We should rage against these mindsets praying at the altars of multi-lateralism and moral relativism that allow crypto-fascist despots to flourish. We should reject, once and for all, these Gods that failed. For soon human vocabulary itself will be insufficient to describe the horrors that can befall us all.
Let us make no mistake about what this is. Though none dare say its name this is race war. Genocide. This crisis commands an urgent call on our conscience and on our character. A call that should stir our passions as did the fight against apartheid and the struggle for the freedom of Soviet dissidents. A call that should have been heeded for the dead in the jungles of Rwanda. Let us not repeat that tragic mistake again.
As an industrialized nation we benefit from the resources and labor of the underdeveloped world. The least we owe is to come to the relief of its poor and oppressed and help them to live free. For those who think that this will ignite retribution from the Sudanese government they should know that it cannot get worse. These refugees, as full members of a universal humanity, have a right to dignity. Far better to rage like lions than to be slaughtered like lambs.
The government of Canada claims a superior moral authority in the world councils of state. Perhaps now is the time for it to act with legitimate moral authenticity as well. In this most dangerous of worlds, there can be no automatic right of exploitation for governments and corporations to operate in such climates without restraint of consequence.
The Institute's Council for Community Conciliation has been asked to assist a group of community leaders in organizing a demonstration at ICAO Headquarters on University Street next Friday, July 9th, at noon. This group includes representatives of all aspects of civil society. Social action, labour and ecumenical regiligious leaders.
Let the United Nations, and our own government, hear our voices next Friday. Proud. Strong. Defiant. Let them hear us as we shout with one voice…
WHAT DO WE WANT? JUSTICE!
WHEN DO WE WANT IT? NOW!
Put aside a half-hour next Friday. This time your presence can truly save a life. Social justice is not just for focus groups. It is real. It is vibrant. It is dynamic. And contrary to many Canadians’ smug orthodoxy it does not stop at our borders.
Beryl P. Wajsman
Final details for next Friday are still being worked out. Please call our office at 875.4884 for information and to confirm your participation. We encourage you to circulate this through any organization you may be involved with.
Solidarity With Refugees of Darfour
Saturday, July 10, 2004
Montreal Leaders Seek Help For Sudan
Solidarity with refugees of Darfur.
Religious communities urge government to use diplomatic force to help stop crisis
The Gazette; AP contributed to this report
Father John Walsh of St. John Brebeuf is flanked by Rabbi Reuben Poupko (left) of Beth Israel-Beth Aaron and Reverend Darryl Gray of Union United Church during an ecumenical prayer service at The Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre yesterday in support of Darfur in Sudan. Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz of Tifereth Beth David Synagogue is at left and Beryl Wajsman of the Institute for Public Affairs of Montreal is at right. Behind the pillar is Rev. Ken Bodin of Snowdon Baptist.
The leaders of some of Montreal's religious communities called on the Canadian government to abandon back channels and use stronger diplomatic force to stop the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan yesterday. Gathered around an urn containing the ashes of victims of the Auschwitz concentration camp, the heads of Jewish, Roman Catholic, Baptist and United Church congregations in the city led a brief ecumenical prayer service in the memorial room of The Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre. The service was intended as a sign of solidarity with black Africans in Sudan's western province of Darfur, who have endured a 15-month campaign of murder, looting and rape at the hands of the Janjaweed, a pro-government Arab militia.
"I found it tragic that Canada recently underwent a national election campaign and with all of the significant issues discussed, the No. 1 tragedy of the day, the leading humanitarian crisis of the moment, was completely ignored," Rabbi Reuben Poupko said.
The head of the Beth Israel congregation in Cote St. Luc organized the service with the help of the Institute for Public Affairs of Montreal.
Since the conflict between non-Arab rebel groups and the pro-government militia began, roughly one million civilians have been displaced, at least 10,000 people have been killed and 150,000 have fled to Chad, which neighbors the Darfur region.
Canada should use its moral authority at the United Nations to force the Arab government in Khartoum to free up the humanitarian aid it has been accused of blocking, said the public affairs institute's president, Beryl Wajsman.
In Kampala, Ugandan rebels ripped through several villages in southern Sudan, killing 100 villagers and forcing 15,000 to flee last month. News of the massacre was only filtering out weeks later because the villages are located far from the region's main towns.
BPW being interviewed by CJAD's Caroline Phaneuf
Please see "With One Voice: For the Devastated of Darfur" at the following link on this site: