Friday, January 26, 2007

Darfur

The President said very little in his State of the Union address regarding the genocide occurring in Darfur. I know that Darfur seems like a place that's very far away and has nothing to offer us here in America. But I urge you to consider the Holocaust (over 11 million murdered) and Rwanda (over 1 million murdered). Think about Milosevic (hundreds of thousands displaced, thousands killed) and Hussein (hundreds dead). Every time these crimes against humanity have occurred we have all stood up to say, "Never again." Yet here it is again.

Since 2003 an armed conflict has been occurring in Darfur (located in western Sudan) between a militia group called the Janjaweed (recruited from the camel-herding tribe, the Abbala) and the non-Baggara people (mostly agricultural tribes) of that region. This is not a religious conflict because most of the people living there are Muslim, including the Janjaweed. However, it is an ethnic conflict. The systematic acts of rape, torture, and murder are committed against the ethnic groups of the Fur, the Zaghwaw, and the Massaleit by the Janjaweed, who are supported and supplied by the Sudanese government.

It has been estimated that as few as 50,000 murders have been committed and it is possible that at least 450,000 have occurred. The United Nations estimate that the number is closer to 400,000. (It is impossible to know for sure because you cannot count bodies that cannot be found due to being buried in mass graves, burned, or destroyed by acid. Much like other genocides in history have shown, it will take years to figure out just how many human beings have been killed.) Over 2.5 million people of the region have already been displaced from their homes.

This situation has been characterized as both ethnic cleansing and genocide by many nations, including the United States, although to date the United Nations and Amnesty International have referred to the conflict as being merely made up of "mass murders", "grave human rights abuses", and something that cannot be ignored. However, the definition of genocide put forth by the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide is "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."

Although the United Nations Security Council sent in over 17,000 troops on a "peacekeeping" mission in August 2006, the Sudanese government informed them that they would be seen as a hostile invading force and would launch major offensives against the citizens of Darfur in retaliation, which they did the very next day. Thousands more were killed and even more were displaced, raped, and tortured. These acts are being committed against men, women, and children.

Clearly enough is not being done to save the people of Darfur. More needs to be done because we all recognize the horrors of crimes against humanity. We are all able to see that what is happening in Darfur should be classified as genocide and therefore all members of the human race have a duty and a responsibility to lend a hand.

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2 comments:

Dave-o-ramA said...

I still have a problem with the idea that just because he was tried for one specific horrible act, in which 148 people died, that this is "all he is guilty of."

Hussein is guilty of at least 100,000 deaths directly, and indirectly of something over 1,000,000.

I can't get wikipedia to load, and I'm probably a bit too busy to dig up other sources of data, but I also think that Milosevic's tally is probably somewhere in the tens-of-thousands to hundreds-of-thousands.

Both the Iraq and Balkan death tolls were in the big-leagues by any objective standard.

Not arguing with your basic premise, just questioning a couple of your numbers. Overall I agree that the Rwandan and Darfur genocides were no less horrible, and had much less vocal responses, and the question of 'why' is a very telling one.

SerenitySprings said...

I always try to quote numbers on the cautious side because no one will ever truly know just how many people were killed because sometimes there are no bodies. The numbers I mentioned were verifiable and are generally accepted as modestly accurate within the human rights research circle.

Of course Milosevic and Hussein were responsible for more deaths than I mentioned but Hussein was only tried for those I mentioned and unfortunately, Milosevic's true numbers will probably never be known.