tuque /tūk/ n Canadian English, var. toque [19th c. Canadian French, from the French toque, from the Basque tauka] 1 A close-fitting knitted cap, often with a long tapering end or tassel or pompom. 2 fig Something quintessentially Canadian.
souq /sūk/ n from the Arabic سوق var. souk 1 An open-air marketplace. 2 fig A central meeting place for the circulation of news and ideas.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Canada mum on Darfur militant in Sudanese government

There’s been no official word yet from the Government of Canada in response to the Sudanese Arab government naming Musa Hilal – a janjaweed militia leader with known ties to the atrocities in Darfur – as a special advisor to the government in the Ministry of Federal (i.e. internal) Affairs.

First reported by the London-based Arabic daily asharq alawsat January 19, Musa Hilal’s official position in the government remains ambiguous, but his very presence underscores the level of commitment (or lack thereof) that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has toward resolving a conflict that has left more than 200,000 people dead in an ethnic cleansing in Darfur since 2003.

Human Rights Watch and international observers in Darfur accuse Musa Hilal of organizing raids on civilians and refugees in Darfur, and there is proof from eyewitness accounts that Hilal has been present at the scene of Darfur atrocities, as reported in the New York Times.

Hilal has also been implicated by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the atrocities in Darfur, though not formally charged with war crimes.

According to the online edition of the English Sudan Tribune, Musa Hilal is a convicted felon (armed robbery, 1998) who was released from prison in 2003 by top Sudanese government officials, apparently (one may only infer) to provide his services to the government in suppressing the uprising by the Sudanese Liberation Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement, both non-Arab parties from the Darfur region struggling for more autonomy in western Sudan.

The last official word from Canada about Sudan came only two weeks ago, when Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier commented (“Canada urges all parties to negotiate in a spirit of compromise conducive to ongoing dialogue and reconciliation…”) on the third anniversary of the Naivasha Agreement, which ended the 20-year Second Civil War between Sudan’s Arab government and the black-African (ethnic Dinkas and others) Sudan People's Liberation Movement in the south of the country.

The anniversary, January 9, came a day after suspected janjaweed units attacked a UN supply convoy in western Darfur.

Should someone with Darfur’s blood on his hands be advising the Sudanese government about its policy toward, er, Darfur?

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