Thursday, April 14, 2005

A Cry for Darfur, Sudan

I have been so involved with my own selfish feelings that it took me a week to finally read this article. I am truly ashamed. Don't let this happen to you.

It has been written better than I could have written it, so I will just quote it for you:

Genocide can't go unnoticed

Andrew Freeman's column in today's edition of the "Daily Collegian" at UMass Amherst...
On Nov. 23, 2004 at 6 a.m., forces loyal to the Sudanese government attacked the village of Adwa in South Darfur, according to a report by the U.N. International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur. The town was looted, and many of its inhabitants fled to the mountains. Men who were captured were summarily executed, as was anyone who attempted to escape, while young girls were taken away to be raped. Over 100 individuals were injured, and between 20 and 30 were killed. Such horrific scenes are all too common in the Darfur region of Sudan, where a genocide, or systematic slaughter of a particular group, has been occurring for the last two years.

Sudan has been involved in domestic warfare for decades, but this conflict arose recently, when rebels from Darfur attacked military installations in 2003, hoping to gain greater regional autonomy. The Arab government in Khartoum, faced with a sectional rebellion in the primarily non-Arab African Darfur, began assaulting and displacing much of the population there.

Many attacks begin with the Sudanese government's helicopters or aircraft, striking a village in Darfur, followed by government soldiers and militia on horseback, called Janjaweed, moving in, slaughtering the men and raping the women. An estimated 250,000 people have already been killed, 1.6 million have been made homeless and 200,000 have fled to Chad, according to the Save Darfur Coalition.

The U.N. investigation noted hundreds of instances of "massacres, summary executions, rape and other forms of sexual violence, torture, abduction, looting of property and livestock, as well as deliberate destruction and torching of villages." This violence was targeted at certain black African tribes, primarily the Masaalit, Zaghawa and Fur. Victims reported the aggressors made such statements as "we are here to eradicate blacks" and "the Fur are slaves, we will kill them."

Neither our government nor our people are doing enough about this.

Although the Bush administration has declared Sudan is committing genocide, its response, ironically, is to turn to the United Nations to handle the problem. Moreover, the American people are tuned out. We loudly mourn Terri Schiavo, or the Pope, while ordinary Sudanese are dying in droves, unheard.

I can go into the legal definitions of genocide, how a finding of it necessitates international response by signatories of the Genocide Convention, and so on, but that is not enough, and hasn't been for decades. The American people, and the world at large, have not done enough to stop needless slaughter, not in Rwanda, nor Iraq, Cambodia, or Bosnia. The only genocide we stopped towards its outset was in Kosovo, and that was the third genocide to occur during the Clinton administration. Platitudes about international law have not been enough - there must be genuine outrage.

We Americans need to take a moral stand against genocide, wherever it occurs, and let that guide our foreign policy in dealing with genocidal regimes. If we are seen as true liberators, saving beleaguered peoples from destruction, that will improve our image worldwide, in addition to saving lives and promoting regional stability.

In Sudan, our government could provide far more logistical and financial support to the small African Union force there. We had spent only $45 million, compared to the European Union's $100 million, according to Refugees International. A no fly zone enforced over the skies of Darfur by our Air Force would prevent Sudanese helicopters and jets from striking at villages. Our government could also push for a broadening of the mandate for the African Union troops already there, so they could respond more aggressively to the Janjaweed attackers.

There are many ways that individuals can help out as well. These range from participating in petition campaigns, to contributing to humanitarian aid organizations like Doctors Without Borders, CARE or Christian Aid [in the UK] that are working in Darfur, to distributing flyers on campus. If enough Americans take action to publicize and denounce the atrocities occurring in Darfur, then there is a chance to stop them.

The following websites provide more information about the crisis and avenues for activism:,,

Please help these people. Be the voice they do not have. Call your Congressperson toll free at (877) 762-8762. You can reach both of your Senators at the same number.

There is another site, Fight or Die that is really good. They have several peaceful rallies to try to bring public awareness to Americans. Maybe you could get a hold of Mark and start your own peaceful rally here!

We must do all we can. We cannot, should not, must not, rely on the government alone. That is not how aparteid was conquered, and that is not how the American public will becone aware of this.

Thank you for all the help you give of yourselves. You are my peaceful warriors. God bless you. If you do not believe in God, may you have a richer, fuller life because of what you do today. Thank you.