Canada well placed to halt Darfur slaughter

By 
  • November 8, 2007
{mosimage}TORONTO - There really is a new world order, and Canada has stumbled into a critical role in it, Sen. Romeo Dallaire told a gathering at the University of Toronto as he helped launch the anti-genocide Aegis Trust in Canada Nov. 3.

That role right now should mean committing troops, technical assistance and development aid in an effort to stop “a slow- moving genocide” in Darfur, said the retired general who commanded United Nations troops in Rwanda in 1994 — the year Hutu extremists carried out a genocidal massacre of 700,000 ethnic Tutsis, plus 100,000 Hutus who advocated living in peace with Tutsis.

As one of the nine most influential nations on Earth, a leading middle power and the country that convinced the UN to adopt the Responsibility to Protect principle in international relations, Canada should be leading the effort to protect Sudan’s internally displaced refugees in Darfur, said Dallaire. Government-backed militias have used rape, village burnings and massacres to dispossess and intimidate Sudan’s black African population. Canada can be more credible and effective in resolving the Darfur situation than the United States, Dallaire told The Catholic Register.

“The Americans have made such a mess with our relationship with the Muslim world,” he said. “It has stymied our ability (in the West) to get involved, and even our willingness. It’s one of the weird side effects of the war on terror. It has emasculated the U.S.”

In an era in which the classic conflicts of nation versus nation, West versus Soviet bloc, have been replaced by imploding nations with poverty-driven resentments and hatreds substituting for genuine politics, it will be up to democratic middle powers like Canada to ensure the rule of law, democracy, security and development are meaningful ideals for the whole world, said Dallaire.

“If not, we are failing ethically, morally and even legally the fundamentals on which we’ve established our country,” he said.

Organized by the Canadian Centre for Diversity and the University of Toronto’s Multifaith Centre for Spiritual Study and Practice, the Aegis Canada launch included an educational display originally featured at the United Nations’ New York headquarters which outlines the mechanics of a genocide, using Rwanda as its primary example. The display will be at the Multi-faith Centre, 569 Spadina Ave., until Nov. 17, then move to York University’s Scott Library, 4700 Keele St., Nov. 19 to 30.

The British anti-genocide charity with the support of UNICEF goodwill ambassador Mia Farrow, British film actors Hugh Dancy and Clare-Hope Ashitey and Dallaire are encouraging Canadians to support a plan for an oil trust which would divert Sudan’s oil revenues to humanitarian and development work in Darfur. Dallaire urged an audience of more than 100 to become members of Aegis at www.aegistrust.org.

Dallaire decried the ease with which Western governments and media overlook crises in sub-Saharan Africa. Black Africans are always the last to command our sympathy and our practical assistance, said the retired general.

“All humans are human, and not one of us is more human than the other,” said Dallaire.

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