[Editor’s note: Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir granted an exclusive interview to workshop attendees at Saviours’ Day 2007 at Cobo Arena in Detroit, MI, in a live-interactive satellite video conference February 23 with members of the Nation of Islam and reporters. He addressed several issues including the present stand off concerning the UN peace-keeping forces. This coverage is reprinted from Vol. 26, No. 22 of The Final Call newspaper.]
DETROIT (FinalCall.com) – The United States and the United Kingdom are themselves causing, and then exaggerating, a “crisis” in the African “Motherland’s” largest and possibly wealthiest country–the Sudan–as it’s now called “Darfur,” the country’s president said directly in a live-interactive satellite video conference Feb. 23 with members of the Nation of Islam and reporters attending the Saviours’ Day 2007 conference at Cobo Conference Center.
The U.S. and British news media have consistently exaggerated the death toll in Darfur, just as the U.S. has consistently changed its definition of what Sudan must do, in order to gain Western approval of its peace efforts, according to Pres. Omar al-Bashir.
“There is a problem, and the main cause of that problem is the rebellion,” said Pres. Bashir during the un-rehearsed, and un-censored conversation, which was also broadcast live on Sudanese state-run television. “We’ve done everything possible to try to convince those who bore arms against the state and the people, but all efforts and mediation failed,” he said.
Western, so-called “experts” say an estimated 200,000 to even 400,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million driven from their homes in Darfur since 2003. The true number is closer to 9,000, stated Pres. Bashir.
Pres. Bashir acknowledged that his country is facing a “problem” in Darfur, but he blamed rebel groups that did not sign on to a peace agreement concluded in Abuja, Nigeria in May 2006. Those groups became the focus of media attention, as well as the recipients of aid and arms from outside of the country, he said.
First, there were what the brown-skinned president who would be considered “Black” in the U.S., called “false” charges that his “White, Arab” government enslaved some of its “Black,” African countrymen, and even engaged in rape and genocidal “ethnic cleansing” in order to rob and dominate the country’s Black population in the southern regions of the country. Those charges were proven to be hoaxes by investigative reports.
“Talk of Arabs killing Blacks is a lie,” said Pres. Bashir in what may have been the first inter-active video conference between an African head of state with a Black group in this country. “The government of Sudan is a government of Blacks, with all different ethnic backgrounds,” he continued. “We’re all Africans. We’re all Black.”
The Black “slavery” charges were made to politically bolster the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the Liberation Army–the SPLA–in the final months before the conclusion of a 19-year civil war.
With the help of former U.S. Senator John Danforth, a Republican from Missouri, the Islamic government negotiated a peace agreement with the rebels, led by John Garang. The U.S. promised that it would lift economic sanctions against Sudan once the peace treaty was put in force. After concluding a peace agreement in neighboring Nairobi, Kenya, the Sudan is now governed by a “national unity” government, including a Vice President, and several cabinet members from the South.
But then, the Darfur crisis erupted when tribal and cultural differences between nomadic herdsmen and farmers spilled into bloodshed. The U.S. again promised to lift sanctions and a peace agreement was reached last year in Abuja, Nigeria, which included the use of a peace-keeping force of nearly 10,000 troops from the African Union. But the U.S. and British paid more attention to the rebel groups which did not join the Abuja Accord, than it did to those who signed it, said Pres. Bashir.
“There is a problem, and the main cause of that problem is the rebellion,” he said. “We’ve done everything possible to try to convince those who bore arms against the state and the people, but all efforts and mediation failed,” he said.
In response to questions from reporters, Pres. Bashir reiterated his rejection of calls for the deployment of some 22,500 U.N. peacekeepers and police to take over the African Union mission in Darfur, saying it would effectively place Sudan under U.N. control, and he compared the attempt to the U.S. intervention in Iraq.
Nation of Islam Chief of Staff Leonard Farrakhan Muhammad, who extended the invitation to Pres. Bashir, said after the speech it was an important message for the Nation and for others to hear.
“Whatever happens in Africa is the business of Black people,” he declared. “Don’t you dare suggest this is beyond the business of the Nation of Islam.”
There is no “conspiracy” between the Nation of Islam and the Islamic government in Khartoum, the Sudanese Ambassador to the U.S. told the crowd at Detroit’s Cobo Hall. Any U.S. group can prove the openness and accessibility of the Sudanese government by issuing an invitation to the Sudanese leaders, just as the Nation of Islam had done.