Friday, June 18, 2010

Taking Away the Kalashnikovs

Disarmament is a good thing, right?  Yes, but in Sudan, where nearly every male has a gun, it can actually escalate violence.

Prior to the April elections, the military in Southern Sudan began entering villages to force the people to turn in their AK-47s.  Surely this is a good thing.  However, some people feared being defenseless: "If I give up my rifle, but the men in the neighboring village do not, I will not be able to protect myself or my family..."

When any family failed to surrender their weapons, the soldiers summarily grabbed the family's young children and beat them severely until the parents complied.  Some fathers instead attacked the soldiers. People were killed.  All of this added to the general unrest that pervaded Sudan at election time.  Thankfully, the violence did not spread and the elections were completed without major disruption.  But the people remain distrustful that peace can endure. They cling to their weapons for safety.  It is the terrible legacy of four decades of civil war. 

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