As if the people in Dafur, Sudan, didn’t have it bad enough, now they’re the latest stop on “The Elders” mission to save humanity from itself, starring former President Jimmy Carter, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for solving the Israeli-Palestinian question back in the ’70s (a few minor details remain to be worked out, apparently). He is joined on the tour by fellow Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu (hence, “The Elders”), Graca Machel (Nelson Mandela’s wife), and billionaire Richard Branson (presumably along because he owns planes).
When blocked from seeing representatives of the refugees, Carter was defiant, as reported by Alfred de Montesquiou for the Associated Press:
The 83-year-old Carter walked into this highly volatile pro-Sudanese government town to meet refugees too frightened to attend a scheduled meeting at a nearby compound. He was able to make it to a school where he met with one tribal representative and was preparing to go further into the town when Sudanese security officers stopped him.
“You can’t go. It’s not on the program!” the local security chief, who only gave his first name as Omar, yelled at Carter, who is in Darfur as part of a delegation of respected international figures known as “The Elders.”
“We’re going to anyway!” an angry Carter retorted as a crowd began to gather. “You don’t have the power to stop me.”
Read the rest of the story at the link above, or the expanded version at CBSNews.com, which reports UN officials were afraid “someone could get shot” and urged Carter to leave.
As a parting shot, Carter vowed,
“I’ll tell President Bashir about this,” Carter said, referring to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.
Now, it doesn’t take a newcleah enginneah to figure out that the security forces in a dictatorship work for the dictator. If Bashir wanted Carter to be able to see the refugees, he would have. Besides, the refugees were afraid to show up! Sure, they’d be fine talking to Carter and his entourage, but as soon as the motorcade and coterie of press departed, they would still be in Dafur.
About the most help Carter could offer the refugees would have been an autographed “Elders’ Tour 2007” tee-shirt anyway. What great concessions did the Great Crusader win from the dictator of one of the world’s poorest nations? Well, Bashir promised Carter that “free elections” will go on as planned – in 2009. Maybe the “plan” is to mark the 20th Anniversary of al-Bashir’s Islamist coup, since they haven’t held elections since.
Carter also “extracted” pledges of $100 million from the Sudanese government and $200 million from the Chinese to fund reconstruction in Dafur. Sure, Jimmy: after they’ve completed their “ethnic cleansing” of the area, they’ll rebuild it – for the new Muslim occupants, not the refugees (who will be but a fond memory in Carter’s next book as he moves on), since they will be long dead by the time the Sudanese government coughs up the cash.
But, at least he got to yell at a security officer. No one does self-righteous indignation quite like Jimmy Carter . . .