Thursday, November 23, 2006

looking the other way

Last Thanksgiving this blog brought you the Death Clock. In the first-annual attempt to avoid a laundry-list post about the things for which I'm thankful*, haiku of the id brings you...

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” -Martin Luther King Jr.**

Hey Kids! Isn't Genocide cool?? The governments of our world think so because they have done jack taco to stop it... Let's talk about the genocide that continues in the Darfur province of Sudan. That country's civil war has brought them one of those quirky gifts that comes along with ethnic conflict: genocide.

Statistics taken from the Darfur Ambassador's Power Point Presentation:

  • Darfur has been called the worst humanitarian crisis of the 21st century. Not since the Rwandan genocide of 1994 has the world seen such a calculated campaign of displacement, starvation, rape and mass slaughter. The ongoing devastation has killed an estimated 400,000 and displaced over 2.5 million Sudanese since February 2003. Darfur is the century’s first genocide.

  • Sudan is the largest country in Africa with a population of 39 million people. Like so many countries in Africa and the Middle East, it is an “artificial” country – its national borders are the result of British and Egyptian rule. Many diverse tribal and ethnic groups are located within the Sudanese borders, including more than thirty in Darfur alone.The Darfur region, located in a drought-prone area of western Sudan, is roughly the size of Texas and had a pre-conflict population of approximately 6 million people.

  • Origins of conflict: Droughts, The North-South Civil War, the Dictator Omar Al-Bashir, and the Marginalization of Darfur.

  • Discussing the current conditions in Darfur will include talking about: The Janjaweed militias, government sponsored terror, the destruction of towns, food and water supplies, the fact that millions of innocent people are still threatened, at risk of starvation, rape and murder, and that countless children are in danger.

  • “They know what they are doing…they are doing it with purpose.” - Ali, Refugee Teacher Many of Darfur’s children witnessed conflict between rebel groups and the Janjaweed, as well as violence against their own families. This drawing depicts a rebel soldier first shot in the arm, then executed by gunshots to the groin. Ali, a teacher in a refugee camp, said the rebels are killed this way to emasculate them. “They [the Janjaweed] know what they are doing,” he said. “They are doing it with purpose.”

  • America's Response is not enough: Last summer the Bush Administration declared Darfur to be a genocide. Since then, the United States has donated $1.7 billion for Darfur, and extra funds in the Emergency Appropriations Supplemental. Secretary Rice visited Sudan in late July. Legislative: The Darfur Peace and Accountability Act is pending in both the House and the Senate, supported by strong bi-partisan coalitions. To be effective, however, the Act needs to maintain the Senate amendment (S. AMDT. 1290), which allocates $50 million to aid the AU. Executive: Executive: through NATO logistical support and USAID humanitarian donations, the United States has led the international community in assisting Darfur. However, not nearly enough has been done to assure the protection of innocent civilians, and the US administration needs to press for a Chapter 7 mandate for the AU troops, so that they can actually protect innocent lives.

  • “America's influence is not unlimited, but fortunately for the oppressed, America's influence is considerable, and we will use it confidently in freedom's cause…All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors." - George W. Bush, Inaugural Address, January 20, 2005

  • Despite some action on behalf of the world community, more action is needed. Five hundred people are still dying every day, and if nothing is done, two million people could perish. We need to act if we want this crisis to end.

  • Act: Call the White House and your Congresspersons regularly to let them know you care about Darfur:

      • White House: (202) 456-1111
      • Congress: (202) 224-3121
      • Write a letter to your Washington Liaison
      • Voice your concern to neighbors and friends about this tragedy
      • Offer donations to a humanitarian agency

  • Look beyond the headlines, understand that a genocide is occurring right now, look for how we can support a solution – and ways in which we may be contributing to the problem. These people need our help. As humans, we owe them our support and prayers. As Americans we owe them our courage and experience. We must do something to help those who suffer, and this time we can.
Mark Fiore has an interesting cartoon that puts an exclamation point on this post. It's amusing, but not funny in a ha-ha way.

Here is more information from Human Rights Watch regarding Sudan.

The Hater and I acknowledge that the world is not a fair place, but the least we (as thankful people) can do is tell you about the atrocities happening now in Darfur, and hope that you, too, make a difference by spreading the word that the American press ignores.

* pumpkin pies and butterflies
** save the cheerleader, save the world

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