Saturday, January 17, 2009

Gaza, Darfur, Zimbabwe and the rest of the world

Another blogger has posted a comment , arguing that media coverage is disproportionally centered around Gaza at present compared to conflicts in other countries. This line of argument is increasingly become more popular amongst pro-Israeli commentators, hoping that Israel's crimes will appear smaller or less significant in comparison.

The argument is, however, essentially flawed. By that logic, no criticism could be raised against any government, with the argument that there are always other states breaching human rights. Human rights are by nature universal, and any violation of human rights is subject to criticism. The fact that there are gross human rights abuses in various parts of the world doesn't make the suffering (which, by the way, didn't start in the last three weeks) in Gaza less urgent.

Many of us, who today stand in freezing temperatures in Gaza solidarity protests or candle-light vigils, are veterans of internationalists protests, and have in the past taken to the streets to voice solidarity for the struggles of the peoples of Burma, Congo, Kurdistan and Colombia, just to mention a few examples.

What is needed is international solidarity, and that the international community acts to defend the principles of the Geneva Convention. Not only for Gaza, but for the security of all peoples.

JEM, one of the Darfurian rebel movements, have stated that they "condemned the double standards of the Arab and Islamic positions in dealing with the safety and security of civilians both in Darfur and Gaza, reaffirming that the blood of civilians must be safeguarded in all wars." (my emphasis, source Sudan Tribune) A reasonable point of view, in my opinion.

But if we talk about Western media, we should recall that there have been almost daily newscoverage condemning Mugabe for the past years. The Western media is surprisingly unanimous in its portrayal of Mugabe as the worst ruler alive, and epithets like 'dictator' are used frequently. And against both Zimbabwe and Sudan there are sanctions, the Sudanese president has even been indicted at the ICC. In such a scenario, organizing mass protests is to some extent superflous. (There was an attempt to mobilize international, read Western, public opinion against China's role in Sudan & Burma ahead of the 2008 Olympics, though.)

If we had governments who could impose sanctions on Israel for war crimes and send the Israeli leadership to The Hague, then perhaps street demonstrations would be less necessary.


  1. I posted an answer to this in the comments field to "Why the hell is Gaza the center of the world?" on my blog.

  2. Double standard is there always at all places. It is "us" and "they"

    Take the instance of two arch enemies. Both supporting the "war on terror" in Sri Lanka and opposing the "war on terror" in Gaza and compare it with their stand in the Mumbai incident.

    Double-standard is natural.

  3. I have previously posted a comment ( on how the 'war on terror' logic from Western powers emboldens governments throughout the world to disregard human rights. In opposing the Gaza massacre and demanding Geneva Conventions be upheld, we do also put pressure on governments around the world to follow the same.