"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
Saturday, March 11, 2006 You Have the Power to Protect: Stop Genocide in Darfur
Now that I had decided on this "blog as I go" strategy, I walked into this workshop on Darfur and was asked if I would yield my computer to be used for a powerpoint presentation because there's wasn't working. Well, it turns out mine didn't work with their projector either - but they let me keep an excellent powerpoint presentation on Darfur made by the U.S. Holocaust Museum (with a promise to credit them whenever I used it).
One of the most interesting speakers here was an Armenian, whose own people went through a genocide in the early 20th century -- a genocide that is still denied. He talked about these genocides not being isolated incidents but "cycles of genocide" that are perpetuated by the lack of the international community to do something about each one.
Basically, he said the problems in Darfur are the same as Armenia, the Holocaust, Cambodia, Bosnia and Rwanda. Whenever genocide is denied or allowed to continue it sends a message that genocide can be committed with impunity and emboldens future leaders. That's what we mean by a cycle of genocide.
The African Union forces are helpless. In front of their eyes, the janjaweed, the government of Sudan is killing people and raping the women.... Those who are in the camps where supposedly they are protected by the African Union forces, they were for the second time driven out of the camps to go look for areas to be protected. This is happening in most of the areas.... There is killing going on as I am speaking right now. Their (the AU) presence is averting some of the perpetrators form killing. It's a good sign but it's not enough.
"The good thing that the international community did was humanitarian aid. Morbidity rate is lower, mortality rate from diseases is lower. But more needs to be done. For exmaple, the World Food Programme only has funding for March."
"95% of displaced people are villagers – farmers who are producing food for other darfurians but for last 3 seasons have cultivated nothing. The rest of the Darfurians will starve. Most of the other people are going to camps because they have nothing. They can’t go to their farms because of the insecurity. They are not effected directly but what is going on, but they are effected because they cannot go to their farms.
"My mother is hosting about 30 families there – one lady, she is 72 years old and now she is hosting all these people."
"The govt. of Sudan, they have a strategy of relocating the people. Those who are in the far cities near the agricultural areas, they don’t want them to stay there so they are attacking the IDP camps. Iin Jan. and Feb. around 30 camps were attacked and the people relocated far away from their land so they cannot go back to their land if any peace agreement is signed right now. The helpless AU forces are doing nothing."
The Darfur Peace and Accountability Act has been stalled and it shows no signs of moving forward. There is a Senate act (Santorum-Durbin act) that has even better language. We can ask members of Congress to:
-push the U.S. to authorize a U.N. resolution for a U.N. peacekeeping force -to support the Santorum-Durbin legislation -Go to Africa Action and this site to take action.
Also, Africa Action is holding a free media training that you can participate in that will train you to interact with your local media and advocate for increased coverage of the Darfur genocide. It will deal with what's the key media message in light of recent developments and help talk about keys to successful letters to the editor and getting op-eds placed in newspapers and answer questions about launching a letter to the editor campaign. Here's the info:
8 pm eastern time on Wednesday, March 15. Call in 1-866-613-5223 the passcode is 7662722
One of the internal conflicts I feel talking about Darfur is that I feel like I talk about it a LOT and I wonder about reaching the tipping point where it becomes too much and people start tuning out. Then I remember that for most people, Darfur is not on their radar screen at all, the media coverage is so sparse and vague.
The most powerful moment of this presentation was when Elnour talked about people dying "as I speak". Something about the immediacy of that language just made my heart go cold. Where is Christ? Christ is with those people. Christ is those people. If we believe Matthew 25, we are judged by what we let happen ... and what we hear today is that not only is it happening as I write this, as you read this, but unless we do something, it will continue to happen over and over again.
Dorothy Sayers wrote a radio drama called "The Man Born to Be King" in which she talks about the dream Pontius Pilate's wife had (MT 27:19). In her mind, the dream was Pilate's wife hearing the words "suffered under Pontius Pilate" said ... not just by one person, but by generation after generation after generation of people for centuries in overlapping chorus.
Pilate's wife had a dream because she and her husband had power ... and what haunted her was the wrong use of power.
We are the most powerful nation on earth. Christ is being slaughtered as we speak. What words will be on the lips of choruses of generations to come about us?
| Mike at 3/11/2006 10:49:00 AM
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"Christ's example is being
demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy,
which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't,
it will be irrelevant."