Darfur casts shadow that is slowly fading, Darfur will soon go, and along with it Africa, China’s importance outweighs Sudan’s plight: By Robert Terpstra


Once again the Dark Continent is being forgotten. Its most outspoken advocate for intervention is in the form of a has-been actor who writes periodic op-ed articles in the Wall Street Journal that are heavily edited and badly written.
Darfur, which, in case most have forgotten the place’s significance in today’s dictionary is a southwestern region in the sub-Saharan African country of Sudan. A region that has been terribly mishandled by the UN, NATO, EU, AU, AL and just about every other acronym that denotes some irresponsible body of nations acting collectively to do nothing.
The most glaring display of genocide this century has witnessed has been elevated to prominence because of the world’s addiction to Brent Crude and West Texas Intermediate and a superpower’s stock in that country’s very oil reserves. In late 2007 and early 2008, with the Olympics countdown at less than 500 days, the Sino-Sudanese crises once again allowed people like Ban Ki-moon, George W. Bush, Thabo Mbeki and Amr Moussa to literally get their heads out of the tar sands and actually consider threatening China with sanctions, economic penalties or, heaven forbid, seats at the negotiating table.
The Janjaweed turned out to be the luckiest African quasi-mercenaries since colonialism affected the continent, opining power to the majority of its diseased dictators in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Because fate reared its ugly head, habitual cannabis users concerned for their souls in preparation for reincarnation in Dharamsala started worrying about the plight of a nation that they wouldn’t be able to locate on a map. Subsequently, the media and activists once again negotiated the mass exporting of the longest serving catchphrase in history effectively into the mainstream. As ‘Free Tibet’, backed by the world’s longest serving statesman, and infallible Dalai Lama, far outweighed the hundreds of thousands murdered and 2.5 million displaced in insignificant Darfur, the African people with tropical diseases never had a chance.
The truth is that Africa is good for a one-hour TV segment on Sunday afternoons pleading people with weak will power to donate ‘only pennies a day’ (or a couple rupees per month) for starving children that need inoculations, immunizations and basic amenities like food and clean water. Honestly what they really need is a viable sewage system and the eradication of diseases, but that is a discussion for the Lancet or American Medical Association.
Darfur is being pushed out of mankind’s map for a number of reasons. First, China is not allowed to be criticized in times of earthquakes and grand sporting events. If the West is to lay any sort of criticism in the direction of Beijing (with the odd notable exception being Darfur), it would be seen as betraying the recent good relations and international diplomatic efforts. Of note too, the West is beginning to depend on China increasingly more. It is much easier to lay blame on Chinese President Hu Jintao when he is unwilling to negotiate the recognition of the Tibet Autonomous Region than to actually admit it, the West, is doing anything conducive to alleviating the situation in Darfur. This would require bilateral co-operation, this would require troops on the ground, this would require billions of dollars with little return, this would ultimately not happen.
Second, many within the West are able to identify with the almost Teddy bear character of the Dalai Lama, who cracks jokes with foreign journalists, and whose trophy case contains hundreds of honorary degrees, a U.S. Congressional medal and even a Nobel Peace Prize. Tibet and murdered monks are brought to the limelight with zest and far more passionately than a child born, to a mother who was raped, in a refugee camp in the Sudan with HIV, who will most likely die in its first two years of either yellow fever, diarrhea or cholera. While the weak are forgotten, the oppressed's rights are championed.
Finally, it seems like the public’s collective memory is incredibly short. It occurred with Myanmar and China, it occurred in Bangladesh and Muzaffarabad. ‘What have you done for me lately?’ is translated for human disasters’ scenarios as ‘What has happened lately?’
This, unfortunately is what has happened to Darfur, this is unfortunately what is happening in China. This, coupled with deep donors’ pockets and selfless aid organizations, that are able to foment an imprint of a weeping Chinese’s mother’s face in their heads, far outweighs a faint shadow cast by the dying breed of people in the Sudan. The Janjaweed may be lethal, but the West’s inactivity is the true crime. It is a crime incomprehensible, unbearable and unnecessary, a scourge left by mankind that will never be forgotten in Africa.

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