Tuesday

24th Nov 2020

Opinion

Sudan asylum decision signals Dutch moral collapse

  • How safe is Sudan, really, given recent massacre and ICC statement? (Photo: Human Rights Watch)

Despite vocal protests by Sudanese refugees in The Hague and an outcry by human rights organisations over a recent decision of the Dutch government to recategorise the asylum status of refugees fleeing genocide in Sudan's Darfur, South Kordofan, and the Blue Nile regions, there was no sign of soul-searching in the Dutch population at large, nor in the corridors of power in the European Union.

It was tone-deaf of the Dutch government to have issued its decision in the past weeks, which could lead to deportations, citing the glaring fiction of a much improved security climate in Sudan as its rationale.

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The chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, has herself emphatically given the lie to this argument.

The decision also coincided with an earlier, fresh massacre of Darfuri civilians demonstrating against the enduring lethal violence inflicted upon them by state-linked paramilitaries.

The timing of the decision taken by state secretary for justice and security (as well as migration), Ankie Broekers-Knol, is only more painfully myopic, as this past 25 July the death toll of innocents rose considerably in Darfur and more killings have followed since then.

In only a partial accounting of events, over two days in unprovoked attacks, over 80 civilians were killed in Western Darfur and a further nearly 200 more were wounded by the same gunmen from militias allied to and sponsored by the now official and rebranded Janjaweed militia, genocidaires synonymous with mass murder in Darfur, now known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

That members of the RSF brazenly boasted in Arabic language posts on social media of having participated in the very same worst instance of bloodletting in Sudan since the brutal crackdown on pro-democracy peaceful demonstrators during last year's civilian uprising, points to no fear of accountability whatsoever.

This studied ignorance to these cold facts and new body count cannot be overlooked nor can Broekers-Knol formulating policy on the basis of a parallel universe in Sudan that does not correspond to concrete reality, be deflected.

It deserves both scorn and ridicule.

Although the EU was slow to call out the recent killings in Darfur before it issued its condemnation and still propagates the illusion it was merely inter-communal violence, which nullifies the complicity of state actors, Broeker-Knol is only more at contretemps for it.

The key culprit on the ground is the deputy of Sudan's interim Sovereign Council, former arch Janjaweed warlord, human trafficker, and king of Sudan's illicit gold trade, lieutenant-general Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, an unlettered former camel trader of Chadian Arab origin, commonly known by his nomme de guerre, Hemeti.

Hemeti is no less than the commander of the RSF, a force now arguably more powerful than the regular Sudanese Armed Forces.

He is not himself yet formally indicted by the ICC, but he figures prominently in dossiers on the Darfuri genocide in the tribunal, as a self-confessed serial killer and rapist.

Although his uniformed thugs were the primary culprits in the savage government reprisals against unarmed civilian protesters last year in Khartoum and Omdurman, he is now disingenuously rebranding himself as the "defender of the people," and "protector of Darfur."

But Hemeti also boasts of his usefulness to the EU that tacitly empowers him to police the borders of Sudan to prevent African refugees from reaching European shores, which by indirect funding mechanisms has funnelled at least €140m to the RSF for frontier control.

EU money

Hemeti pockets the money and his men regularly rape, torture, and kill the migrants they intercept, and do not otherwise sell off as human chattel in the underground slave trade.

None of this has prevented Broekers-Knol from giving marching orders to Sudanese refugees.

Through the prism of two of the darkest chapters in modern Dutch history, it is only more damning.

Her uninformed decision overlapped not only the recent new slaughters of civilians in Darfur, but also came not long after the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide in former Yugoslavia, the worst genocidal act to take place on European soil since 1945, when a UN Dutch battalion disgraced itself and allowed the slaughter of some 8,000 Bosniak men and boys.

On also this the 76th anniversary of Anne Frank's arrest, this very month, which ensured her cruel fate, the Dutch ministry of justice faces a stark choice over Sudan's refugees - to choose humanity and compassion, or to aid and abet genocide that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, which would disfigure the notion of the Netherlands being one of the more progressive societies on earth, by legitimising a hallucinatory tale that deported Sudanese face no danger.

Anne Frank's ghost, the spirits of the dead in their graves in Srebrenica and Darfur will be watching.

Author bio

Chris Kline is the international spokesman for the chairman of the Sudan Liberation Movement, Abdul Wahid al Nur. He is a former Bloomberg, ABC News, CNN, and Fox News foreign correspondent and war reporter. He is also the Spanish-born grandson of Indonesia's founding president, Sukarno, who liberated the country from Dutch colonial rule.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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