Mr DANBY (Melbourne Ports) (11.17 a.m.)—I want to praise the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, for speaking up on behalf of the brutalised people of Darfur in western Sudan. Over the last three to four years, the worst genocide since Rwanda has occurred in that benighted country with the active cooperation of the murderous regime in Khartoum. Since 2003, more than 200,000 people have been murdered in Darfur, along with mass rape and pillage by the Janjaweed militia. These Janjaweed militia brigands, apart from having air support from the Sudanese air force and the backing of the Sudanese army, are judged by all impartial agencies, such as Human Rights Watch and Freedom House, to be backed by the Sudanese dictator, Omar al-Bashir. His name will eventually live in infamy, like Pol Pot, Mugabe and Milosevic.
The UN Secretary-General’s anger was sparked by a shameful vote in the UN Human Rights Commission—22 to 20—to turn down a resolution from the European Union, Canada and others telling the Sudanese government to prosecute those responsible for killing, raping and injuring civilians in Darfur. Can you imagine that the UN Human Rights Commission turned down a resolution calling for the prosecution of those responsible for mass rape, mass killing and pillage in Darfur? What kind of a situation have we got to when things like that happen? To its great discredit, the Organisation of Islamic Countries, together with the Arab League and backed by various authoritarians such Castro, Chavez, Putin and Hu Jintao, all got together—the great humanitarians of this world—to vote down this resolution.
It is particularly ironic because the people of Darfur are Muslims, black Muslims, African Muslims, and they are being persecuted by an allegedly Muslim government in Khartoum. This disgraceful vote follows another shameful decision of the UN Security Council not to classify the situation in Darfur as genocide because China has a veto and values its oil rights in Darfur above the poor persecuted people of that region. China wants to exploit its relationship with the Sudanese government. Therefore that government can continue to have its militia murder, pillage and rape in Darfur. It is the most serious situation in the world.
The Secretary-General has rightly gone out on a limb over this. He told the UN Human Rights Council, in a statement read out by its head Louise Arbour, that he urged the Human Rights Council, which was established after the widely discredited UN Human Rights Commission was abolished:
... to take care to handle this issue in an impartial way and not to allow it to monopolise attention at the expense of others...There are surely other situations besides the one in the Middle East which would merit scrutiny by a special session of the UN Human Rights Council. I would suggest Darfur is a glaring case in point...
He was talking about the fact that there had been six resolutions on the Israeli situation before the UN Human Rights Commission and not one condemning the murder of 200,000 people and the mass rape and pillage in Darfur.
It is absolutely shameful that the UN Human Rights Commission would allow this total misfocus of the world to continue. It follows the decision of the UN, at least in some ways—this following the intervention of that very brave other UN official Jan Egeland, shamefully treated by the dictator in Khartoum—to achieve some human rights on behalf of the people of Darfur. The UN was going to deploy a joint force along with the African Union in Darfur to try to protect some of the people in that country, but of course the Sudanese government has been backtracking on that.
My comments follow a recent meeting I had with the Darfur Australia Network and their very impressive public spokesman Abdelhadi Matar, an inspiring refugee from the Masalit tribe in western Darfur. I appeal to the Australian government on behalf of the Darfurian refugees to get our embassy in Cairo to put more pressure on the UN Human Rights Commission to process the applications of refugees from Darfur, who are in an urgent situation, a situation where there is still murder, rape and pillage taking place, as we speak, in Sudan. Those applications are all being held up by the UNHCR in Cairo, which is processing no applications by refugees from Sudan. The Australian government needs to act directly with those refugees.