Statement to the Press on the Crisis in Darfur

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press:

My brief statement, on the topic of discussion, will be in the form of a few questions that The Committee for Truth, Justice and Reconciliation in Sudan – along with The Peace And Justice Foundation, by extension -would like to raise as food for thought:

  1. Given the fact that civil war has raged in the country of Sudan for many years, why did America, along with an assortment of other interests, become concerned about the unfortunate and costly civil strife (both in human and material terms) only after the present government came to power in Khartoum?
  2. Why is Sudan receiving all of this attention when there are a number of other countries on the African continent with far worse, well documented, human rights atrocities taking place?
  3. Why do critics of the Sudanese government insist upon describing the political and humanitarian crisis in Darfur in “Arab-vs-Black African” terms?
  4. Why this consistent portrayal of the “Janjaweed” as “an Arab militia,” when this label within Sudan is not restricted to “Arab tribes?”
  5. Why was the image of a Janjaweed leader that appeared on the front page of the Washington Post a few weeks ago (and, no doubt, a number of other publications as well), significantly lightened to make him more Arab (as most of us would envision “Arab”) in appearance?
  6. Why hasn’t the media pointed out the fact that the more heart-rendering televised images of emaciated Darfurians come from the refugee camp(s) in Chad? And why isn’t the Chadian government being held accountable for such conditions in the court of public opinion?
  7. Why is the suggestion repeatedly being made that a systematic and widespread campaign of rape (as a weapon of war) is being conducted in Darfur, when the findings from such respected entities as the World Health Organization (WHO) suggest otherwise?
  8. Why did US Secretary of State Colin Powell designate the Darfur crisis “genocide,” after emphatically stating just a few weeks earlier that what he witnessed, when he visited the region, did not meet the legal definition of genocide? Further, after making what appears to have been a political decision to redefine the crisis, why did he call for a “full UN investigation” AFTER branding it genocide? Shouldn’t the investigation have come first?
  9. Why have some of the same individuals and groups who strongly criticized the US and Britain for orchestrating a militaristic charge into Iraq – under the cover of what the late British Prime Minister Winston Churchill might term, “a bodyguard of lies” – now become advocates for a similar campaign of aggression against an African-Islamic state?
  10. Why has the media (generally speaking) been complicit in allowing some of the main international actors in the so-called Sudan Campaign to remain in the shadows, and not be exposed for who and what they are?
  11. Why haven’t the fabricators of the “Slavery in Sudan” lie of a few years ago – some of the same actors embroiled in the current propaganda campaign – been fully exposed, and held accountable, for the previous campaign of false and malicious propaganda against the government in Khartoum?
  12. Why hasn’t, what may arguably be considered, the greatest example of state-sponsored genocide in the world today – a crisis which has now gone on for more than half a century, in an occupied land historically known as Palestine – not received the same amount of concern and scrutiny by the US government, the UN Security Council, evangelical Christian organizations, and Jewish organizations ostensibly dedicated to civil and human rights, as has the crisis in Darfur?
  13. Why is the media, once again, failing in its responsibility to raise the tough questions?
  14. And finally, what would be the human and material cost of needless military intervention in Sudan?

These are just a few salient questions that can be raised concerning the crisis in Darfur; questions which underscore the reason why there is growing concern and activism around this issue within the Muslim American community – and particularly, among Muslims of Afro-American descent. I thank you for your time and attention.

El-Hajj Mauri’ Saalakhan
Director of Operations
The Peace And Justice Foundation