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News Posted on March 17, 2009

Dr. Mohammed Ahmed Abdallah Speaks on Darfur at King Hall

Ahmed AbdallahInternationally renowned Darfuri physician, human rights activist, and peace negotiator Dr. Mohammed Ahmed Abdallah visited King Hall on March 11 to speak on the crisis in Darfur to a packed Wilkins Moot Courtroom.  Dr. Mohammed Ahmed also met with 40 Law School students working to prepare a report on international peace and reconciliation processes in support of his work.

Dr. Mohammed Ahmed, winner of the 2007 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, is a professor of medicine at el-Fasher University in Darfur and serves on the Sudanese Organization for Rights and Peace Building, which seeks to prevent human rights violations and promote peace and reconciliation. He was until recently the medical director of the Amel Center for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture in Sudan, and has represented the Fur, the majority ethnic group in Darfur, in national and international forums and negotiations for peace.

His King Hall visit came about through the work of Professor Diane Marie Amann, Director of the California International Law Center (CILC) at King Hall, and Monika Kalra Varma ‘00, Human Rights Director of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, who began collaborating to provide assistance to Dr. Mohammed Ahmed last year.  Professor Amann's International Human Rights & Transitional Justice class has begun analyzing questions related to various peace and reconciliation processes around the world, and is generating a report as part of the first collaboration between CILC and the RFK Center.

In his King Hall lecture, Dr. Mohammed Ahmed discussed the complex history of the conflict in Darfur, emphasizing that the current crisis is not, as sometimes depicted in the media, the result of ethnic tensions or competition for Sudan's meager natural resources, but more the product of the government disenfranchisement of large portions of the population.  "Most Africans have no mechanism for participation in citizenship in their country," he said. 

The result has been a rebellion that began in 2003, as disenfranchised groups began fighting the government and government-backed militia, with horrific consequences for the civilian population, including mass killings and systematic rape.  More than 200,000 have been killed and 2.5 million people have been displaced and tens of thousands live in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps.

A resolution to the crisis, Dr. Mohammed Ahmed suggested, will come about if the international community can intervene to ensure equal access to government representation.  "If we believe we are all citizens and want one country, we can share citizenship," he said.

California International Law Center at King Hall

Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights