This week, we received numerous suggested articles for the week’s blog feature. Most were very well written, provocative, timely and informative. Nonetheless, I have decided that another area of global importance has been neglected for too long and only recently, has made some head-way into the headlines. It is GENOCIDE. It is happening. It is real. It is in Sudan. As a scholar of genocide, and having visited Sudan, I felt compelled to address this issue.
Two years ago, the African people, tired of the government’s brutality and yearning for freedom, revolted against Sudan’s Islamic government. The Islamic government saw this as an opportunity to systematically and methodically wipe out the Africans in Darfur and take their land for the Arabic Sudanese. The following are eyewitness statements of the horror that is taking place in front of our eyes:
“They come rolling into the town, shooting and torching the village, often bringing women to the side and raping them indiscriminately. And in order to ensure that the destruction is complete, the government either sends ground forces to oversee the operation, or the attack helicopters, which often are the most deadly things.”
“They arrived on horseback, killed my husband and took my son,” says another eyewitness, who still does not know what happened to her son eight months later. She left Sudan with five surviving children after the Janjaweed burned her village. “They never gave me a chance to talk to my child. Some of them dragged my son away, others slaughtered my husband, and some others took me to the side, and tortured me and left me there. My newborn was snatched off my back, and was left lying on the ground. I found him in that situation when they let me go.”
Almost three million people who have been driven from their homes are facing death from starvation and diseases as the Sudanese government is preventing humanitarian aid from reaching the people who needs it most. Added to that, the rainy season is upon them and they have no place to shelter or clean water to drink except the malaria infested waters of the floods. The Sudanese government is using the Arab “Jangaweed” to systematically annihilate the black Sudanese of Darfur. The estimated death toll thus far is anywhere from 400,000 to half a million. Sexual violence is rampant; women are raped and enslaved for sexual gratification. Men and boys are captured and sold into slavery. The lucky ones are murdered.
The entire world knows of the atrocity but does very little. The United States, believe it or not, has done more than any other country in the world in denouncing the genocide. The United Nations has called it the greatest crisis in the world. The United States calls it genocide and was the first to call it what it is. Other African countries do not have the military resources to make much of a difference, or refuse to take a real stand. Russia and China receive a great portion of their oil from Sudan and refuses to denounce the genocide. How should we handle this genocide? Who is to blame? Has the United Nations ever prevented an act of genocide from starting, or stopped one that was in progress? Many are calling for the United States to do something but many of those are the same ones who denounced America’s involvement in Iraq and elsewhere. Are we picking and choosing where to send our troops? Are you at all concerned? What can you do?
Let us learn from the bloody lessons of Rwanda, the Holocaust, and Armenia. How could we ensure that 2006 is not a year of genocide that we remember and regret?