Entries tagged with “War in Darfur”.


Img from USAID

What does the phrase “Not on our watch” mean? We hear it off and on, from a variety of people in a variety of contexts. Well Don Cheadle and John Prendergast want you to know that while they are alive and kicking they will not allow genocide or mass atrocities against humanity to go unnoticed. In their book titled, Not on Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond, they have created an activists guidebook.

Sharing from their personal experience they relay the hard story behind the current genocide in Darfur. They share easy steps that can be taken to end the horrible tragedy there.  One letter can shift the balance in government which could change the entire landscape of how the world interacts with Sudanese officials. The two authors draw on their experiences with advocacy, but throughout the book share short stories about how regular individuals, like you and me, have taken action.  Simple ideas that create massive change – that is the theme of the book.

Outside of the short stories, it can get a little dry, but when you realize that you can create change it can be a powerful motivator.  Out of their efforts came an organization called the Enough Project, which basically wants to end and prevent future genocides.

I’ve had enough of the indiscriminate slaughter of men, women, and children.  Have you?

The book ends with this great quote from Cheadle, it is a powerful reminder we are not alone in our work.

Times like this, it’s easy to feel powerless, easy to feel alone. But when I take off those blinders and look around I see that I am actually surrounded by many people “intending the light,” as Joseph Campbell says, hoping against hope to make a difference in their time. I grow inside as we grow in size, not an army of one but one of many taking up the gauntlet thrown at our feet. Millions of lives hang in the balance, their futures determined in part by wheter or not we act. Ultimately, I pray that we not stand down from our post. Not us. Not now. Not on our watch.

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On Sept 3 we decided that we would risk going to St Paul to take part in a peaceful rally to raise awareness about the ongoing Genocide in Darfur. The event combined the national organization Camp Darfur with several local groups. The host organization, Minnesota Interfaith Darfur Coalition (MIDC) estimated around 200 people attended.

Camp Darfur is:

An interactive awareness and education event that brings attention to the ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan, and gives individuals the opportunity to discover their own power to make a difference. This traveling refugee camp raises awareness and examines Sudan’s Darfur region and its humanitarian crisis – genocide – by placing it in historical context with Armenia, Holocaust, Cambodia, and Rwanda. Camp Darfur empowers communities to raise their voice and take action for the individuals of Darfur.

According to St Paul’s Pioneer Press Coverage:

“People have Darfur fatigue, for one,” said Rabbi Sim Glaser, who co-founded the MIDC and helped organized the day’s events. He said that three times as many people showed up to a rally — in the rain, no less — three years ago. “People can’t deal with the enormity of the problem.”

I might agree with that statement, but I think that the anarchists and police levels in St Paul, may have had a significant effect on turnout as well.

This was one of the major lines from a professor at the U of Minnesota’s Human Rights Center:

The event, which featured musicians, experts on the violence in Darfur, and religious leaders in the Twin Cities, urged people to pressure representatives in Congress to do more to end a conflict that has resulted in the deaths of at least 300,000 people.

A similar number to the entire population of St. Paul.

Again from the Pioneer Press, one of the more powerful speakers:

Alice Musabende [pictured at right], who was orphaned after her family was killed in the Rwandan genocide, didn’t mince any works, and her frustration about inaction boiled to the surface during her speech

“People were watching O.J. Simpson” during the 97 days of killing in Rwanda, she [Alice]said. “I have a question ‘What on earth does it take for you to act?'”

As a survivor, she can be a little more forceful. It made me wonder what I did – nothing. I knew nothing about it in my little southern Ohio bubble.

We had a good time at the event. We’ve only been to one other Darfur event in Minneapolis. Both have been very good and featured some of the same ideas and calls to action. It is powerful to see the tents and read more about the other genocides – that we said we’d never let another one happen.

The main action point was to call 1-800-Genocide. It will walk you through the rest of the action. We also spotted some people wearing Team Darfur garb.

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The Sudanese Government in the midst of committing genocide in their Western Province of Darfur had this to say about the recent Russian incursion into Georgia:

August 15, 2008 (KHARTOUM) –The Sudanese National Assembly lent its support Moscow in its clash with Georgia over the border region of South Ossetia.

The Sudanese legislative body described the Russian response as “legitimate” and that Moscow had “the right to defend its citizens”.

Sudan also condemned the “crimes committed by Georgian forces against innocent citizens”.

“The genocide was committed in its worst forms and did not spare even the elders or children or sick or women” the foreign relations committee said in a statement.

Sudan and Russia enjoy good relations particularly in terms of military cooperation. Moscow along with Beijing blocked tough UN Security Council (UNSC) measures against Khartoum over the Darfur conflict.

I assume the key word in this statement is “innocent” as I don’t think the Sudanese government would say any Darfuri is innocent – just my thought.

HT Sudanese Thinker

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The Genocide Intervention Network released this video today featuring all 3 Presidential Candidates talking about the horrible, continuing genocide in Darfur.

It is a pretty short video, but it makes a great statement about the need to change our policy towards Darfur.

Go here http://www.askthecandidates.org/ to take action!

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I thought this was great when I found it –

In 2003, a couple of major things happened. 50 Cent blew up and G-Unit took over the music industry, Jay-Z “retired,” and Eminem won an Oscar. It was a big year for Hip Hop. These things we remember vividly, as they were the subject of endless media fanfare (seriously, how many articles did you read about Hova claiming he was done with the rap game?).

Sadly, while you and I were bumpin’ “Dirt Off Your Shoulders” and “In Da Club” that year, a tragedy that has been dubbed the number one humanitarian crisis in the world began – the genocide in Darfur.

Who knew that Hip-Hop had a soul and even a positive side? This particular post: Hip-Hop and Darfur:Part One give a pretty basic overview of the conflict and what has been done. The series continues with an interview with Ankh Amen Ra in part two. Ankh Amen Ra wrote a song called Darfur which can be heard here. Here is the final dialouge from the interview:

DX: What is the most important thing the “average” person can do to help?
AAR:
Raise awareness in his or her community – however they feel they can bring more attention to the issue. Talking to people at work, your neighbors, going door-to-door – we have to put this issue on people’s radar, and they have to feel that this is something that needs to stop immediately. Helping raise awareness in your close circle is really the way to make this issue resonate in the hearts and minds of the international community.

I would also like to personally call upon the hip hop community to peacefully assemble as a unified front on the steps of the United Nations and demand that the United Nations Security Council fulfill the promises of UN Resolution 1769, which effectively created the UNAMID Force, an international force consisting of African Union and European Union troops, responsible for establishing security in the war torn region.

In fact, due to the recent attempted coup of the Chadian government by allegedly Sudanese government supported rebels, the situation in that region is deteriorating rapidly as the Chadian prime minister has apparently called for the immediate removal of all Darfur refuges from the his country. Therefore, we must act now!

Part Three is the final (at least for now) installment connecting Hip-Hop and Darfur at HipHopDX and is an interview with Don Cheadle and Adam Sterling. Here is a good excerpt from that interview:

DX: When actors get involve themselves in activism, it puts their careers into a different light. Do you talk to your friends about it, like George [Clooney] or Brad [Pitt]?
DC:
I don’t know where it fits, vis a vis. I think a lot of people think doing advocacy work really helps in your career. I think, as you are a human being, and you’re feeing off of being a human being, giving value and meaning to your life, then in all walks of your life it absolutely helps. As far as acting goes, it sometimes cuts against it. It makes it more difficult, as a career. It makes it more difficult in our business, because you get pigeon-holed. It’s just another way to get pigeon-holed and people don’t think you can do a bunch of things and those doors start shutting.

Does that mean that I stop doing it for me? No. Or George? Or others that I’ve spoken to? No. You keep doing it because that’s where your heart lies. It definitely puts everything in perspective. Way more than my acting, it puts my family life into perspective, it puts my children’s relationship to me in perspective–what are you trying to accomplish and achieve as a global citizen in the brief time that you’re here?

What do you want to do? Do you want to be on record between you and your god and your family and your friends as having tried to do something? Or just, you know, to make as much money as you can and get a nice big house and cool ass cars and nice clothes? You can do that too. But I don’t think that’s how you want to measure yourself.

These are well researched and well-written articles, not what I would have expected from a stereotypical Hip-Hop culture. You should go check them out.

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After several weeks of good news and progress related to Sudan, the New York Times reported on Sunday that the scorched-earth policy which initially led to the US declaring the violence a genocide has returned.

The attacks by the janjaweed, the fearsome Arab militias that came three weeks ago, accompanied by government bombers and followed by the Sudanese Army, were a return to the tactics that terrorized Darfur in the early, bloodiest stages of the conflict.

Such brutal, three-pronged attacks of this scale — involving close coordination of air power, army troops and Arab militias in areas where rebel troops have been — have rarely been seen in the past few years, when the violence became more episodic and fractured. But they resemble the kinds of campaigns that first captured the world’s attention and prompted the Bush administration to call the violence in Darfur genocide.

This is not a good development as the UN Peacekeeping force still isn’t fully deployed and able to help protect civilians. Women and children are bearing the brunt of this never-ending violence. While it clear that it is a complicated mess there are also clear paths forward to begin the end.

The Sudan government must allow full access to the country by the UN-AU Peacekeeping force, the government must stop bombing villages and coordinating with rebel groups to eliminate entire populations. Rebel groups must step forward and be willing to negotiate peace and not provoke government action. Both groups should focus on true and lasting peace in Sudan and end the skirmishes for power in neighboring Chad.

The world has had ENOUGH.

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The pressure is working!! Let’s keep it up.

From the New York Times:

China has begun shifting its position on Darfur, stepping outside its diplomatic comfort zone to quietly push Sudan to accept the world’s largest peacekeeping force, diplomats and analysts say.

It has also acted publicly, sending engineers to help peacekeepers in Darfur and appointing a special envoy to the region who has toured refugee camps and pressed the Sudanese government to change its policies.

Few analysts expect China to walk away from its business ties to Sudan, but its willingness to take up the issue is a rare venture into something China swears it never does — meddle in the internal affairs of its trading partners.

This is a very good step for China. I won’t say it is enough and time will tell if it is mere lipservice, but baby steps are good!

I found this part of the article very interesting:

“Coming to some sort of agreement with the United States is the Holy Grail of Sudanese politics,” said a senior Western diplomat in Khartoum, who was not authorized to speak publicly. “No one has been able to deliver it.”

This holds true though Sudan is awash in investments from Asia and the gulf that would, in theory, allow the oil-rich but development-poor country to prosper more broadly than it has despite American opprobrium.

American approval and acceptance would transform Sudan in a way the billions of dollars from China, India, Malaysia, Iran and the gulf have been unable to: by opening the spigots of Western development aid and with it a deal to reduce its nearly $30 billion in external debt, along with technical assistance to manage the tide of money rushing in.

Unfortunately, the Bush Administration has been very hesitant to take much action, despite having such a large role in ending the civil war between North and South.

It is definitely a mixed bag of how to end the terrible genocide, but it is pretty clear that China needs to be a major role in the solution as does the United States.

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