Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Post - Propaganda Machine for Sudan

It is incredibly disappointing to see a sympathetic interview with Sudan’s Vice President in today’s Washington Post. The article gives Ali Uthman Muhammad Taha an open forum to cast the atrocities in Darfur in a way that makes his government look blameless and holds the victims responsible, without debating anything he says. This is very irresponsible, especially since coverage of the Darfur crisis is so limited. This could easily be one of the only pieces many people read on the situation, and to have it be a piece of Sudanese government propaganda is very distressing.

The Vice President says that in order for the situation to be resolved in the Darfur region, the rebels need to disarm. Only then can the Sudanese government deal with the Janjaweed. His response to the accusation that his government is arming the Janjaweed is evasive – he says he called up the PDF – a government backed paramilitary group whose volunteers are not just Arabs. Those who have been following this situation know that the Janjaweed are committing most of the atrocities - and they are being supported and armed by the Sudanese government - but the Post article doesn't mention this.

The Washington Post even allows him to get away with casting the problem as historical, citing tensions and periodic violence. Taha says that his government has been restrained in dealing with the rebellion, but won’t adhere to appeals for a no-fly zone. The problem is that our national press doesn’t give much coverage to real reports from the region – but has no problem giving news coverage to the lies from the nation’s leaders. Let’s not forget, the Hutu Power government in Rwanda cast the 1994 genocide there in a similar way. Thanks to the Post, the Sudanese government looks like it is blameless. The only responsible thing to do is to write an opinion piece tomorrow (a day too late) putting his words in the appropriate context.