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Ahmed Harun, Sudan’s Minister of State for Humanitarian Affairs has given an interview to the guardian and protested his innocence for the death of more than 250,000 people in Sudan. This comes at a time when the International Criminal Court has charged Harun with the crime of genocide and asked for his arrest.

Mr. Harun’s contention is that the evidence against him has been concocted by the international community and he has vowed not to submit himself to the international criminal court.

Readers may also read this excellent post on the Genocide convention and its relevance in the world today.

The picture above is of a Ugandan Child and a missionaire. Its been 60 years since the passing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 (10th December 1948 – 10th December 2008). It today is the single most important instrument for the protection of human rights around the world. May this picture send the message that a lot more instances of HR vioations lay ahead of it and with it the hopes of millions around the world.

At this critical juncture in the 21st century, all eyes are affixed on the financial crisis that both developed and developing economies are currently grappling with. Consequently, very little global attention is being paid to a rapidly deteriorating socio-political atmosphere in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a situation which may well be termed as Darfur – II. This humanitarian crisis, however, may have seriously disastrous repercussions, far worse from those hitherto seen before.

Massive armed conflict between Government militia and Congolese rebels had broken out earlier this year, resulting in the displacement of atleast 250,000 civilians. The rebels, led by Gen. Laurent Nkunda claim to protect the ethnic Tutsis from the migrant Hutu community who had fled Rwanda after the genocide in ’94. Gen. Nkunda believes that the Hutu militia, key personnel of which are accused in the Rwandan Genocide, pose a grave threat to the Congolese Tutsis. The rebels have sought to take up arms against the Government under President Joseph Kabila, and the ensuing conflict has torn the country’s social fabric apart. The rebels accuse the Government for its reticence and inefficiency in stopping Hutu militia from using its territory. For its part, the Government has condemned such violent upsurge, seeking military aid to curb the rebels.

We might not be in a position to evaluate the true nature of claims raised by the belligerents but what is very clear is the conflict’s devastating impact. Over 250,000 (BBC, UN Official Figures) civilians have been displaced from the country’s heartland where heavy fighting is the norm. Reports of inhuman atrocities, like mass killings and rape by parties from both sides, continue to pour in. Rebels seem to be recruiting young school-going children from various corners of the country; those who refused have reportedly, been shot. Amidst such plunder, the displaced thousands are dying of hunger and the prevalence of diseases is acute. The absence of any coordinated relief effort is apparent and the exigency mandates quick measures.

Lobby group Global Witness states that the Government soldiers stand as accomplices to the rebels, primarily to exploit the vast resources of gold and tin in this mineral-rich country. The situation is grave indeed, with little or no viable solution in sight. A ceasefire agreement which came into force later this year has been recently breached and negotiators are finding it tough to settle the ongoing dispute.

The UN has deployed a massive Peacekeeping force in the region, it largest and most expensive peacekeeping operation to date. Nonetheless, many believe that the Blue Berets stand no chance as they are outnumbered a 1000 to 1 in conflict zones. The UN Force is currently 16,500 in number and India is the largest contributor with 4000 personnel; however, the mere deployment of such peacekeeping forces cannot facilitate a solution to this humanitarian crisis. To quote the BBC, Creating a robust force from the disparate elements of the UN contingent is not proving easy.

Military involvement of the UN cannot be the world’s knee-jerk reaction to a crisis of such magnitude. Developed and developing nations have a huge, consensual role to play in mitigating the harsh human conditions in Congo; our pursuit of economic might is futile if social conditions of fellow men and women are pitifully dismal.

Banned by the censors, rejected by Mumbai International film festival, now being awarded by the President of India! 

 

In the just announced 53rd National Film Awards, Rakesh Sharma’s internationally-acclaimed documentary Final Solution about the Gujarat carnage has been given the Special Jury award comprising a Rajat Kamal and a cash prize of Rs Ten Thousand. The Jury awarded the film “for its powerful, hard-hitting documentation with a brutally honest approach lending incisive insights into the Godhra incident, its aftermath and the abetment of large scale violence”. ( http://pib.nic.in/archieve/others/2007/aug07/53rd_nfa-2005.pdf)


Said Rakesh Sharma, “Final Solution itself is a perfect illustration of why there should be no censorship for documentaries. The President of India is now recognizing the film for its merit and excellence. Curiously, in sharp contrast to the National Film Award Jury, the CBFC (censor board), while banning the same film in 2004 had observed that the film “promotes communal disharmony among Hindu and Muslim groups and presents the picture of Gujarat riots in a way that it may arouse communal feelings and clashes among Hindu Muslim groups.” According to the CBFC, the film “attacks the basic concept of our Republic i.e. National Integrity and Unity. Certain dialogues involve defamation of individuals or body of individuals. Entire picturisation is highly provocative and may trigger off unrest and communal violence. State security is jeopardized and public order is endangered if this film is shown…. ” Widespread public outcry and protest campaigns led the CBFC to clear the film without a single cut in Oct 2004. Both the ban and CBFC’s subsequent clearance came during the UPA’s regime.

Ironically, the government-run Mumbai International film festival (MIFF) rejected the same film on the grounds that it wasn’t good enough, refusing even to screen the film, let alone allow it in Competition! However, the week after MIFF, Final Solution created history at Berlin by winning two awards, including the Wolfgang Statudte award, never given before to a documentary film!

Reacting to the National award itself, Rakesh Sharma said, “I am delighted and saddened at the same time. Delighted because after 30 international awards for my last two films, this is my first National Award! Delighted also as now Doordarshan will telecast the film to a wider audience in view of its policy convention and judgements by the Supreme Court and Bombay High Court. Saddened because the ugly shadow of censorship continues to mark the National Film Awards, leading to its boycott by a section of documentary film-makers.”

Stressed Rakesh Sharma, “When an arm of the Government of India honours the film while another arm harasses the film-maker and then bans the film, it makes the Indian State appear schizophrenic. I hope the Government will do away with censorship for documentaries, especially in view of its stated commitment to Right to Information as well as Freedom of Expression. Documentaries should instead be brought under the purview of the Press Council of India – after all, what is the difference between an NDTV special report on Gujarat riots and Final Solution? A ban on Final Solution seems absurd! Police action to prevent screenings of documentaries seems totally farcical. There is no space for such censorship in a mature Democracy – I urge sections of civil society to join us in our campaign against censorship of documentaries.”

Final Solution is a study of the politics of hate. Set in Gujarat during the period Feb/March 2002 – July 2003, the film graphically documents the changing face of right-wing politics in India through a study of the 2002 genocide of Moslems in Gujarat. Final Solution is anti-hate/ violence as ” those who forget history are condemned to relive it “.

The film has over 20 international awards and has been screened at over 80 international film festivals (details below and on http://www.rakeshfilm.com). These include two awards at its premiere at the Berlin International film festival and the prestigious Index on Censorship award in 2005
Final Solution (India; 2004; DVD; 149 minutes)
Awards:

  • Wolfgang Staudte award & Special Jury Award (Netpac), Berlin International film festival (2004)
  • Humanitarian Award for Outstanding Documentary, HongKong International film festival (2004)
  • Montgolfiere d’Or (Best Documentary) & Le Prix Fip/Pil’ du Public (Audience award), Festival des 3 Continents at Nantes (France; 2004)
  • Best Film, Freedom of Expression awards by Index on Censorship (UK ; 2005)
  • Silver Dhow, Zanzibar International film festival (2004)
  • Best documentary, Big MiniDV (USA; 2004)
  • Special Jury Award, Karafest (Karachi; 2004)
  • Special Jury Award, Film South Asia (Kathmandu; 2005)
  • Human Rights Award, Docupolis (Barcelona; 2005)
  • Special Jury Mention, Munich Dokfest (2004)
  • Special Jury Mention, Bangkok International filmfest (2005)
  • Nominee, Best Foreign Film, Grierson Awards (UK; 2004)
  • Best Documentary, Apsara Awards (India;2006)
  • Special Award by NRIs for a Secular and Harmonious India (NRI-SAHI), NY-NJ, USA (2004)
  • Special Award by AFMI, USA-Canada (2004)
  • Special Jury Award, Worldfest 2005 (Houston)
  • Special Jury Award, Mar Del Plata Independent film festival (2005; Argentina)

Screened at over 80 international film festivals.

Rakesh Sharma: A brief profile : Rakesh Sharma began his film/TV career in 1986 as an assistant director on Shyam Benegal’s Discovery of India. His broadcast industry experience includes the set up/ launch of 3 broadcast channels in India: Channel [V], Star Plus and Vijay TV and several production consultancy assignments. He returned to independent documentary film-making in 2001. His first independent film Aftershocks : The Rough Guide to Democracy has been screened at over 100 international film festivals.

It got the Best documentary film award at Fribourg, Big Mini-DV and at Jeevika ( India) and won 8 other awards {including the Robert Flaherty prize}at various festivals in USA and Europe during 2002-03. His latest film Final Solution deals with the politics of hate. It has been screened at over 80 filmfests and has over 20 awards ( Berlin, HonKong, Karachi, Zanzibar, Index on Censorship etc). Both films were rejected by the government-run Mumbai International film festival in 2002 and 2004 respectively.
website: http://www.rakeshfilm.com
blog: rakeshindia.blogspot.com

I am pretty keen on going and spending some time in Darfur. I dont think its proper to hear about Genocide in the paper and show that you care. I would like to see Genocide.

Could anyone help me with it?