The Geneva Summit turned to the humanitarian challenge of Genocide and considered Sudan as a case study. The panel was moderated by Colum Murphy, President of the Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations, and former spokesperson of the United Nations team in Bosnia. “Genocide is such an enormous question, and is not taken from the far past of history but is of recent memory,” he said.
The two panelists, both refugees of Sudan, offered their personal experiences of enslavement and persecution. “When we talk about human rights in Sudan, we should talk about the absolute lack of any rights in Sudan,” said Simon Deng, a refugee of southern Sudan and former child slave.”When I was a slave, I was unable to say the world no. All I could say was yes, yes, yes,” Deng said. “In my country today, innocent people still suffer forced Islamicization and Arabicization even though we are supposedly at peace. This legacy of evils still lives on for far too many, far too often. Peace remains only a dream.”
Sudan has the largest number of internally displaced persons in the world, with a greater concentration of IDPs in southern Sudan than Darfur.”Why has no international body or government stopped them from breaking their agreements, again and again? Without the full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, all will be lost in no time. The CPA must remain in force. The return to war will be inevitable.”
“Sudan stands at a crossroads, one towards war, while at other lies a hopeful future for reconciliation.”
Amer Adam Hesabu, a West Darfuri refugee in the UK, witnessed atrocities committed by the Janjaweed in Darfur.”Too many dead bodies lie on the street, graves of women and throwing children onto fires. They came to my village, into our family homes, demanding to know where are the rebels, accusing us of hiding them. They took my brother with them, after torturing them, stayed in the village I went to the next village for protection but when I went there, it was worse from where I’d come from. Part of the village had been burned.”
Hesabu fled to the United Kingdom in 2003 and has since become an advocate for the human rights situation in Sudan. He cited figures of 6,000 deaths in Darfur alone and the displacement of nearly three million people.Recalling the spirit of universality from earlier in the day, he said, “My Darfuri people have similar stories. There actually is no progress on the ground and people are still suffering. The international community needs to act, the Darfur people have the right to self-determination.”
Responding to a question from the audience questioning whether genocide actually took place in Sudan, Simon Deng responded, “I wish you would have been in the shoes of the women in southern Sudan to know, I wish you would have been in the shoes of women in western Sudan to know it and feel it. But probably you wouldn’t feel it because you would have been sitting in Khartoum. We all know the hypocrisy and denial in the truth. And if someone gave you the truth you would deny it. And that’s why you are mixing apples and oranges. What is happening in southern Sudan is known by all of us. We all know it well.”
The panelists also discussed the possibility of renewed fighting despite recent progress. Their activism includes urging actors within Sudan to focus on creating stability. Hesabu added that it’s important to create an environment in which people can believe in peace so that they can have confidence in the peace process. He said, “We want the elections, they represent democracy. If this government wins, then we will have the same situation in Iran.”