MSF head arrested in Sudan

05.30.05

This report is truly disturbing: the local head of MSF (Doctors Without Borders) in Darfur, Sudan has been arrested, ostensibly because MSF published a report detailing widespread reports of rape in Darfur without permission:

Sudan arrested the local head of an international aid agency on Monday over a report on hundreds of rapes in Darfur in the first such action against a top relief worker since a rebellion in the area began in 2003.

Paul Foreman, the country head of the Dutch branch of aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), told Reuters he had been arrested but was being freed on bail.

[ . . . ]

Farid said the arrest warrant had been issued after consultation with the governmental Humanitarian Aid Commission. Under Sudanese law, he said MSF should have consulted the Commission before publishing any reports.

In New York, Jan Egeland, the U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, expressed concern about Foreman’s arrest and urged Sudanese authorities to drop the charges immediately.

“It is an incontestable fact that rape and sexual violence are rampant in the ongoing crisis in Darfur,” Egeland said in a statement. He said MSF Holland’s “work in treating victims of rape and sexual violence, and speaking out about the terrible crimes being committed has been exemplary.”

The tragedy of Sudan’s Darfur region is that the whole catastrophe was created by human beings while other human beings stood by and did nothing to stop it. The figures are staggering: more than 2 million driven from their homes, some death figures up in the neighbourhood of 400,000 including those directly murdered by the janjaweed and others dead from starvation or disease. The stories that survivors have told about mass rape are truly horrifying.

But the Sudanese government admits to nothing. Not to arming and funding the janjaweed militias. Not to being responsible for the genocide – and let’s call a spade a spade here – that continues to be carried out as the world fumbles and fumes and for the most part stands idly by. And certainly not to what everyone knows is fact.

Compared to the horror stories already widely circulated in the press, MSF’s report was nothing new. But now, the head of MSF has been charged with “spreading false information” simply for speaking the horrible truth. Sadly, I have a feeling that the world will ignore this injustice as well.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 John Palubiski 05.31.05 at 1:37 PM

Where’s “Shamnesty” International on this one, eh?

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2 Hanthala 06.01.05 at 5:24 PM
3 josh 06.03.05 at 9:38 AM

‘Doctors without Borders’ and credibility? hmmm:
http://www.ngo-monitor.org/archives/InsideScarredMindsText.htm

Okay,
I found this too. They are generally okay:
http://www.ngo-monitor.org/archives/infofile.htm#medecins

Although occasionally departing from its apolitical mission, MSF generally provides effective assistance to populations in distress, to victims of natural or man-made disasters and to victims of armed conflict, “without discrimination and irrespective of race, religion, creed or political affiliation.” However, in some cases, as documented by NGO Monitor, MSF personnel have violated the pledge to “respect their professional code of ethics and to maintain complete independence from all political, economic and religious powers.”

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