Thank Goodness a White Man Was Tortured

The moment Phil Cox crossed the border from Chad into Sudan, there was a price on the British journalist’s head. Cox’s mission was to investigate the Khartoum regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons against its own civilians in Darfur. His hazardous journey was prompted by an Amnesty report on more than 30 chemical attacks in the Jebel Marra region of Darfur, where the Islamist Sudanese regime has been ethnically cleansing its non-Arab minority since 2003. Cox knew it would be futile applying for a visa, so he slipped into Darfur illegally. Along the way he was betrayed, and thousands of Sudanese soldiers were mobilized to prevent him unveiling the truth about the regime’s use of…

All Christians are brothers, and all Muslims are brothers – except when their skin is black

How much empathy do Christians feel for their brothers and sisters in Africa? Why do Muslims lose so little sleep over the elimination of their co-religionists in Darfur? South Sudan refugee camp, 2011. Maximilian Norz/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved.Judging by the millions protesting against president Trump’s policies on behalf of the vulnerable and voiceless, empathy is alive and well. Or is it? Trump’s recent immigration ban exempts Christians from Muslim-majority countries, recognizing their status as the world’s most persecuted faith. But how much empathy do Christians feel for their brothers and sisters in Africa? And why do Muslims who care about the plight of the Palestinians lose so little sleep over the systematic elimination of their black…

Nigeria and the deadly political legacy of military rule

            ‘Congratulations to our governor on his first year in office,’ reads the vast hording by the main Abuja-Jos road. A chubby-cheeked man with perfect teeth beams down on passing motorists. You don’t need to read the small print to know the poster was paid for by the businessmen who bankrolled the successful candidate. Fifty miles further along the same road another benevolent ruler favours travellers with his cherubic grin. ‘My heart goes out to all the people of south Kadema,’ reads the inscription. Meanwhile, his grateful voters carefully negotiate the atrocious highway between Nigeria’s capital and Jos, a city of nearly a million. In the words of a local…

Why Isn’t Saudi Arabia On Trump’s List Of Banned Muslim Countries?

Rebecca Tinsley Journalist and human rights activist The Kingdom and its school books remain the source of hatred. Why doesn’t President Trump’s executive order include Saudi Arabia, the country of origin of 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11? And why does the US State Department refrain from pushing The Kingdom to drop the incitement to commit violence from the text books it exports around the world? Some years after 9/11, Saudi Arabia eventually promised to revise its hate-filled school books by 2008. Since then, the State Department has exaggerated the extent to which anti-Semitic and anti-Christian bigotry have been purged from the Saudi curriculum. In fact, analysts believe, US officials have covered-up for the Saudis, failing to ask…

No more partying in Congo Russia

REBECCA TINSLEY 9 December 2016 On the UN International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide, we are reminded: if western voters are angered by globalisation, for Nigeria its by-products are far more deadly.   “Homes and businesses have been wrecked by firebombs, churches are blackened shells, and only Muslims are safe.” Image courtesy of author.“The attack on our town began at midnight,” explained the district leader, a tall, slender man wearing a Manchester United shirt. “We called the security services immediately, and we kept phoning them, but they never arrived. So, the terrorists took their time, working their way through the streets systematically, house by house, killing the…

Teach Your Children Well

It takes political will to prevent genocide, not international law December 9th is the international day of genocide awareness and prevention. The Genocide Convention (1948) was a response to the Holocaust, marking the special status of mass murder committed with the intention of eliminating a category of people on the basis of their ethnicity or faith. The Genocide Convention has been followed by sundry international laws and treaties, aimed at creating legal norms recognized across the world as universal ethical standards. Yet, to judge by the collective impact of these worthy pieces of paper, the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648, guaranteeing state sovereignty, still overrides well-meaning attempts to stop leaders slaughtering their own people. The problem lies…

Is reconciliation possible in South Sudan?

If impunity is the cost of peace, how can societies recover from violent conflict? A South Sudanese man holding a Heckler and Koch G3 rifle. Credit: Steve Evans/Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons. When diplomats met in Vienna at the end of October to try to break the ongoing stalemate in Syria, they were divided on whether President Assad should stay in power. Garnering less attention but tackling equally unpalatable choices, the African Union has finally published its report on the civil war in South Sudan. In both cases, the victims of conflict will probably be denied the justice they deserve, and it’s doubtful whether sufficient political will exists to deliver the truth-telling mechanisms that are necessary…

America’s not so exceptional foreign policy

What can explain the myopia of US policy towards Sudan, when it knows Sudan has been facilitating ISIS in Libya, Syria and Iraq, and other terror groups? Albert Gonzalez Farran/Demotix. All rights reserved. The US Special Envoy, Donald Booth, will be given a warm welcome when he visits Sudan at the end of July. Khartoum’s hard-line Islamist regime anticipates the normalisation of relations with America, and the end of sanctions imposed by Bill Clinton in 1997, following Sudan’s role in bombing US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Five years ago Sudan’s President, Omar Bashir, was indicted for the crime of genocide against his own citizens in Darfur. However, Washington justifies this diplomatic thaw by claiming Sudan…

Africa’s Angry Young Men

No school, no job, no future. Why so many of Africa’s young men choose militias The Central African Republic (CAR) is a poor, arid, landlocked country the size of Texas. According to the United Nations, the former French colony is now experiencing the world’s largest forgotten humanitarian crisis. In March 2013, a mainly Muslim rebel group overthrew the corrupt regime of President François Bozizé. In response, a Christian militia took revenge on the country’s Muslim minority with a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing. Ninety-nine percent of Muslims in the capital, Bangui, are dead or have left, and one quarter of the country’s entire population have fled their homes. Despite the religious make-up of the warring parties, refugees who have sought…

When does a refugee camp become a permanent home?

REBECCA TINSLEY 20 May 2015 Encamped refugees are often portrayed on our TV screens as objects of pity with deadpan expressions. Time to ask what they think and feel. Love in a hard place: on St Valentine’s evening 2013, the families of Aya and Mohammed gathered in a tiny building in Jordan’s Zaatari camp, housing an estimated 90,000 refugees who fled Syria, and agreed on their engagement. Flickr / Oxfam International. Some rights reserved. Across the globe 10m people are living in refugee camps. Many, like the Syrians in Jordan and Turkey, arrived recently. Others, like the Palestinians in Lebanon or Burma’s ethnic minorities in Thailand, have been there for decades. At what stage do people realise their port-in-a-storm…