Sudanese Front Groups Crowd Out Victim Voices

Debate commenced today at the UN Human Rights Council on the report by Ms. Sima Samar, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Sudan. In her opening remarks, she called for the government to implement the recommendations of her report, a large number of which are being ignored, “particularly in areas of protection of civilians and accountability in justice.” She accused the government of Sudan of continuing its attacks on the people of Darfur and of detaining and torturing human rights defenders and aid workers.

The Council divided largely between Western and non-Western States with the former arguing for increased human rights monitoring in Sudan and the latter calling for the elimination of the mandate of the independent expert.

Just ten minutes were allotted for NGOs to speak. In this case, only eight were given the floor. Unfortunately, the first three on the speaker’s list were Sudanese front groups who had secured their spots through a “pre-inscription” process for NGOs from abroad.  

The Hawa Society for Women, the Al Zubair Charity Foundation, and the Society Studies Center all argued against the need for a UN special rapporteur on the situation in Sudan. The Hawa Society said there needs to be “better analysis of the political situation.” The Al-Zubair Foundation complained about the “bias” of the report by Ms. Samar, saying she took a “selective approach.” The Society Studies Center said “there is no need for a rapporteur who is not professional in her work” and complained that she did not adequately consult with national NGOs. In a written statement, the organization also cited “the improvement in the humanitarian and security situation in Darfur” and called for the “Sudanization of the humanitarian work.”

Due to the time constraints, UN Watch, tenth on the speaker’s list, was unable to deliver its statement. This is particularly unfortunate given the intended speaker was a victim of Sudan’s racist genocide against the people of Darfur. The following is the speech he intended to give:

UN Human Rights Council
Agenda Item 4
Debate on Sudan
15 June 2009

Thank you, Mr. President.

My name is Gibreil Hamid and I am from Darfur. I am delivering this statement on behalf of UN Watch.

The government of Sudan has told this Council that it is not committing any human rights violations.  This is a lie.

I want to tell you the truth.

Over fifty people from my family were murdered.  More than five hundred thousand others in Darfur have been murdered.  Women and girls are being raped.  Millions are in camps.  They need food and water. 

What is happening in Darfur is a genocide, as the international criminal court has concluded.

My people are being killed because of their race.

I want to know:  Why is this council not doing anything about Sudan’s racist crimes?

In April, this Council organized the world conference on racism, known as the Durban Review Conference.  I was there.  Why were Sudan’s racist crimes in Darfur ignored?  I will never understand that.

Mr. President, we, the victims of Darfur, come before this council today, with a simple message.

Time is running out. We need action. Our situation is critical. We are being murdered and raped. We need protection. We need action, and we need it now.

Please stop adopting resolutions that praise Sudan for its so-called “cooperation.” Please do not eliminate the mandate on Sudan. Please take action to end these racist crimes.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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