SUDAN: The American media and Darfur
Ambassador Khidir Haroun Ahmed «View Bio

Khidir Haroun Ahmed

Embassy of Sudan, Washington, DC
June 07, 2004

For the past two decades, the American media has been guilty of criticizing, bashing, and reporting the situation in Sudan with an unbelievably biased perspective against the Government of Sudan. Sudan has been ravaged by civil war for many of these years, but on June 5, 2004 the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army signed the framework for a peace deal that will be applied in less than two months. The end of the “worst” and “the most tragic” ongoing civil war is finally in sight. This has been a source of joy and a cause for celebration in Sudan and among the Sudanese people throughout the world, but has been met with a deafening silence from the American media; a media which prefers to focus on human tragedy rather than human triumph.

None of the major U.S. newspapers printed a word of encouragement about the critical achievement wrought by the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A. Instead, the New York Times, and the Washington Post are waging a smear campaign against the Government of Sudan over the conflict in Darfur. The coverage of the situation in Darfur has failed, so far, to condemn the perpetrators: the rebels, who initially attacked innocent civilians and urban centers, motivated by the erroneous assumption that peace between the north and south would come at the expense of other regions.

The American media has become a champion for these armed elements in Darfur by justifying armed struggle against innocents as a fight against marginalization. This blatant disregard for truth should not be tolerated by the international community and developed world. Allowing the American media to perpetrate these fallacies against countries like Sudan contributes to the chaos and ethnic strife that is prevalent in Darfur and other parts of Africa.

While the media has concentrated its efforts on reporting the “tragedy” in Darfur, the Government of Sudan has been busy guaranteeing unfettered access to humanitarian aid in Darfur, and approving the African Union mechanism for monitoring the ceasefire. Although it took two weeks to get the consent of rebel groups, the Government is the party that has been blamed for the delay when the media finally took notice. Other incidents that have escaped the attention of the media include one that took place two days ago, where the rebels took 16 aid workers hostage, and disrupted humanitarian aid initiatives in the process. Three weeks ago, the rebels burned to the ground five villages near Nyala City, and displaced 12,000 civilians in a single night, this also drew no attention.

What has drawn media attention, illustrated by today’s editorial in the Washington Post, is the anticipated death of 300,000 people in Darfur. Not surprisingly, the article fails to mention that these deaths will occur because the response of the international community to food and medicine shortages never exceeded 20% of the actual needs. Additionally, the editorial does not address the fact that the Government of Sudan has loudly proclaimed it’s willingness to join forces with the U.S. government and the international community, in instituting a feasible plan that will save lives and enable the people in Darfur to return to their villages. It is regrettable that the media has chosen to target the government of a poor nation like Sudan, and to overlook the true perpetrators who thrive on creating conflicts and placing blame on others.

Ambassador Khidir Haroun Ahmed is Sudan's ambassador to the United States