Thursday, April 14, 2005

Starve The Tyrants, Save The Oppressed

Kofi Annan urges the West to chuck more money at the suffering of Sudan. As he knows full well from his Oil For Palaces, the aid will go straight to Sudan's tyrants. The West should steel itself and hold onto its cash until there is a decent government to send it to - there will be less suffering long term.

Annan says:

"Hungry people cannot eat pledges," Mr. Annan said in an opinion piece in The New York Times two days after he told a donors' conference in Oslo, Norway, that if ever there was a time for donors to get off the fence, it was now in Sudan, where a peace accord in January ended a civil war in the south that killed 2 million people and drove more than 4.5 million others from their homes...

Kofi's "Peace Accord" will be news to the innocents in Darfur that are still being raped and murdered.

"Clearly, we must do better in Sudan. I urge donors to convert their generous pledges into cash without delay," he said of the $4.5 billion pledged. "And I urge the public to hold them accountable for their promises. This time, let us keep our commitments, and not turn a blind eye to a whole generation of Sudanese who have earned this peace and desperately need it."

If inaction seems cruel, take a look at how the tyrant in Zimbabwe uses aid to underpin his brutal regime.

But by far Mugabe's most effective weapon against the opposition is the political use of food aid. Estimates vary, but probably half the population relies on food aid from the west. A report by the U.S.-sponsored Famine Early Warning System Network estimated that half of Zimbabwe's 13 million people would have no food by March 2005.

These shortages have played into the hands of the dictator. In 2003, Human Rights Watch reported that "Zimbabwean authorities discriminate against perceived political opponents by denying them access to food programs." Peter Takirambudde, executive director of the Africa division of Human Rights Watch called withholding food aid "a human rights violation as serious as arbitrary imprisonment or torture." Just to buy food Zimbabweans have to register with the local ZANU-PF party official. Often they must chant slogans like "Down with Whites! Long live Robert Mugabe!" writes Harvard's Power. And those without a ZANU-PF party card cannot receive government-subsidized grain.

International food aid, particularly that from UN food agencies, give the Mugabe government the prop it needs to remain in power.... Archbishop Ncube said, "I hope that people get so disillusioned that they really organize against the government and kick him out by a non-violent, popular, mass uprising....Because as it is, people have been too soft with this government."

Tyrants are like fevers - starve them and the system fixes itself.