The Darfur Consortium

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Darfur in the News

U.S. and European media

August 19, 2023

Reuters: Defiant Bashir rejects Darfur genocide charges. Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, on his first trip abroad since the International Criminal Court moved to indict him for war crimes, on Tuesday denied that his forces had committed genocide in Darfur. Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo last month asked the court to issue an arrest warrant for Bashir on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, saying his state apparatus had killed 35,000 people and indirectly at least another 100,000. "We are not committing genocide in Darfur," Bashir told Turkish President Abdullah Gul during a meeting in Istanbul, according to a Turkish official close to the talks. "We are saddened by the events there," Bashir was quoted as saying.

New York Times: Warning by Sudan on Charges. The Sudanese government has warned of "serious consequences for U.N. staff and infrastructure" if the International Criminal Court charges President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, left, with war crimes in Darfur, the head of the United Nations mission that monitors the peace accord in Sudan, Ashraf Qazi, told the Security Council on Monday. Mr. Qazi did not elaborate on the specific sources or timing of the warning, but said his mission would take "all necessary precautionary measures" and would strengthen its cooperation with Sudanese security forces.

Associated Press: Turkey's Gul urges Sudan leader to end suffering. Turkey's president urged Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir during talks Tuesday to act responsibly and to end the suffering in the devasted Darfur region. Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court accuse al-Bashir of genocide by unleashing militias on ethnic African groups in Darfur that rebelled against his government. Some 300,000 people have been killed and more than 2.5 million displaced since 2003. "Human suffering agitates all, no matter which religion, ethnicity or language those who suffer belong to," Turkish President Abdullah Gul told al-Bashir during their closed-door meeting, the state-run news Anatolia news agency reported. "Everyone needs to do their part to alleviate this pain," Gul said.

Voice of America: Joey Cheek Speaks Out on Darfur After China Revokes His Visa. At the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Joey Cheek won gold and silver medals as a speedskater.  He used the media spotlight to talk about the violence in Darfur, where experts say more than 200,000 people have died and some 2.5 million others have been displaced from their homes since 2003. Cheek also donated his award money, a total of 40-thousand dollars, to Darfur refugees, and challenged others to join him.  And they did, raising more than a million dollars. He was planning to travel to Beijing to support the almost 400 athletes who have joined Team Darfur, 73 of whom are competing.  But Chinese authorities revoked his visa just hours before his trip. Speaking to VOA at his Team Darfur office in Washington, Cheek said the Olympics are about more than just sports, and defended athletes who wish to express their opinions.

The following column by Jonathan Gurwitz appeared in today's Philadelphia Inquirer. 

Behind the Olympic facade

The Chinese government said it would change for the Games. Evidence reveals otherwise.

Watch the spectacle of the Olympic Games, and the television screen says "Beijing 2008." To understand the spectacle, however, you have to think "Crimea 1787."

In 1783, Catherine the Great sent her court favorite Grigory Potemkin to pacify and colonize newly annexed territories bordering the Black Sea.

Legend has it that when the Russian empress went on a grand tour to see his handiwork four years later, Potemkin had erected facades of tidy villages along the Dnieper River to disguise the desolation of her new realm.

The Bird's Nest and the Water Cube are, in many ways, Potemkin Villages of the 21st century.

Yes, every host nation uses the Olympics to celebrate its heritage. Yes, politics routinely injects itself into the Olympic movement, despite the lofty ideals.

What makes Beijing 2008 so remarkable is how this year's Olympic dream differs from the Chinese reality - and the Orwellian efforts of China's communist rulers to hide that reality.

As if forcing athletes to remove masks - and demanding apologies for the imagined insult - somehow makes the toxic smog of China's industrial revolution disappear.

As if lining the streets of Tiananmen Square with thousands of government-selected cheerleaders can hide the stains or erase the memory of the massacre that took place there 19 years ago.

As if revoking a visa for 2006 Olympic gold medalist Joey Cheek covers the stench of the Chinese government's complicity in the genocide in Darfur.

As if preventing foreign journalists working at the Olympic press center from accessing the Web sites of human-rights organizations conceals the abuses of a regime that is afraid of its own people.

It wasn't supposed to happen this way.

During the selection process for the 2008 Games, the Chinese government made an explicit guarantee. Lie Jingman, the vice president of the Beijing 2008 bid committee, told Agence France-Presse: "By allowing Beijing to host the Games you will help the development of human rights."

There was much money to be made from taking the business of the Olympics to the world's largest nation. By selecting Beijing, the International Olympic Committee rationalized, the spotlight of the Games would compel the communist government to behave more responsibly and humanely.

A new report from Amnesty International evaluates Chinese authorities in four areas related to the Olympic values of "universal fundamental ethical principles" and "human dignity": persecution of human-rights activists, detention without trial, censorship, and the death penalty.

Since cataloging the broken promises of Chinese leaders in an April report, the human-rights group found conditions in China deteriorated further as the Games approached. That's one reason why foreign journalists are being subjected to the same Internet censorship that the Chinese people constantly endure.

No one will be allowed to inspect the integrity of the Potemkin Olympics.

The structures are sound. The architecture is splendid. The ideological superstructure of the Chinese economic miracle is scientifically precise.

History has a way of tearing down such facades, sometimes with wars and revolutions, sometimes with the peaceful actions of a single individual.

The Berlin Olympics of 1936, too, were supposed to introduce the world to the edifices of a new power, the triumph of superior people with a superior system.

Jesse Owens, who was not even fully enfranchised as a citizen in his own country, shook the foundation of the Olympics.

Will there be a Jesse Owens of the Beijing Olympics? Lopez Lomong, the inspiring Sudanese refugee who carried the American flag into the National Stadium, certainly might be.

The Chinese government may not have changed its ways to host the Olympic Games. But the Olympic Games may change China - and how the world looks at it - in ways that its timorous leaders could not have expected.

The Darfur Daily News is a service of the Save Darfur Coalition. To subscribe to the Daily News, please email [email protected]. For media inquiries, please contact Ashley Roberts at (202) 478-6181, or [email protected].


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