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Old 04-14-2004, 01:22 PM   #1
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Normal Will we allow anohter Rwanda? It's happening now in the Sudan

April 14, 2004
OP-ED COLUMNIST
Cruel Choices
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

can't get the kaleidoscope of genocide out of my head since my trip last month to the Sudan-Chad border: the fresh graves, especially the extra-small mounds for children; the piles of branches on graves to keep wild animals from digging up corpses; the tales of women being first raped and then branded on the hand to stigmatize them forever; the isolated peasants, unfamiliar with electricity, who suddenly encounter the 21st century as helicopters machine-gun their children.

Then there were the choices faced by the Sudanese refugees I interviewed. For example, who should fetch water from the wells?

The Arab Janjaweed militia, armed by Sudan's government, shoots tribal African men and teenage boys who show up at the wells, and rapes women who go. So parents described an anguished choice: Should they risk their 7- or 8-year-old children by sending them to wells a mile away, knowing that the children have the best prospect of returning?

And what should parents do when the Janjaweed seize their children, or gang-rape their daughters? Should they resist, knowing they will then be shot at once in front of their children?

Or what about the parents described by Human Rights Watch who were allowed by the militia to choose how their children would die: burned alive or shot to death?

Some 1,000 people in Sudan's Darfur region are still dying each week. But at least the world has finally begun to pay attention and it's striking how a hint of concern in the West has persuaded Sudan to reach a cease-fire there.

President Bush finally found his voice last week, protesting the "atrocities" in Darfur. More forcefully, Kofi Annan warned on the day commemorating the Rwandan genocide that reports about brutalities in Darfur "leave me with a deep sense of foreboding. . . . The international community cannot stand idle."

So far in Darfur, thousands have been killed, and about one million black Africans have been driven from their homes by the lighter-skinned Arabs in the Janjaweed. Vast sections of Darfur, a region the size of France, have been burned and emptied. The Janjaweed have also destroyed wells, or fouled them by dumping corpses into them, to keep villagers from ever returning.

"You can drive for 100 kilometers and see nobody, no civilian," said Dr. Mercedes Tatay, a physician with Doctors Without Borders who has just spent a month in Darfur. "You pass through large villages, completely burned or still burning, and you see nobody."

In the refugee camps in Darfur, malnutrition and measles are claiming the survivors, especially young children. Roger Winter, assistant administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, estimates that even if the fighting stops today, at least 100,000 are still likely to die in coming months of disease, malnutrition and other ailments. Yet Sudan is still curbing access to Darfur by the U.N. and aid groups.

I'm not suggesting an invasion of Sudan. But it's a fallacy to think that just because we can't do everything to stop genocide, we shouldn't do anything. One of the lessons of the last week is how little it took from Washington, the U.N. and the African Union to nudge Sudan into accepting a cease-fire and pledging access for humanitarian workers.

Now we need more arm-twisting to get Sudan to comply with the cease-fire (it marked the first day, Monday, by bombing the town of Anka). The Sudanese government is testing us, but so far the State Department has shown a commendable willingness to stand up to it.

We can save many tens of thousands of lives in the coming weeks but only if Mr. Bush and Mr. Annan speak out more boldly, if the U.N. Security Council insists on humanitarian access to Darfur and if the aid community mounts a huge effort before the rainy season makes roads impassible beginning in late May.

In the last 100 years, the United States has reacted to one genocide after another Armenians, Jews, Cambodians, Bosnians by making excuses at the time, and then saying, too late, "Oh, if only we had known!" Well, this time we know what is happening in Darfur: 110,000 refugees have escaped into Chad and testify to the atrocities.

How many more parents will be forced to choose whether their children are shot or burned to death before we get serious?
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Old 04-14-2004, 05:18 PM   #2
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Damn. That's horrific.
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Old 04-14-2004, 11:03 PM   #3
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Thanks for the response, Verte. Yes, yes it is. I find it esp. outrageous that it's going on as we (the West) congratulate ourselves for learning the lessons of Rwanda.

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Old 04-15-2004, 11:15 AM   #4
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A massive screw-up on this scale isn't just dangerous to the Sudan, I think it's dangerous to those of us in the First World as well. I really think this needs to be stopped!
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Old 04-16-2004, 05:23 PM   #5
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Look what I found! You can email your Senator and ask them to support a new House Resolution to DO something about this already!

http://takeaction.amnestyusa.org/act...p=2&item=10717

Cheers,
SD
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Old 04-18-2004, 09:06 PM   #6
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I actually have never believed unfortunately that we have learned anything from Rwanada .. we said never again , but actions speak louder then words.. It's a harsh reality that again and again we say only to late " We wish we would have known" and it's not acceptable at all .. it sends a chill down my spine

As Kofi Annan said " We can talk all we want about compassion, living in a global society, inter-dependence etc.. But these are all hollow meaningless statements unless we actually do something. IN the end it boils down to a simple question : What kind of people are we"

We are not global citizens just by stating we are, we show it through our actions.. they can be simple or they can be large but they are how we prove we truly care about all of humanity..
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Old 04-18-2004, 09:43 PM   #7
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I e-mailed my Senators and Congressman. Hopefully they can do something.
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Old 04-18-2004, 10:00 PM   #8
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As much as I don't like Oprah, one time when she did a show on Africa, she said something that was right on - that if we truly believed the people there were equal to us, and that their children were equal, we could never, ever allow these things to happen to them.

I don't believe the West sees Africa or Africans as their equals.

I don't believe we see viable financial reasons for going in there.

I think the few cents we throw at them annually is a shit way to make ourselves feel better.
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Old 04-18-2004, 10:53 PM   #9
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oh my God, this is horrible.

I had NO idea.

Sherry thanks for posting this. I will contact my Congressmen tomorrow and spread this op ed article around..
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Old 04-19-2004, 08:53 AM   #10
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Quote:
I don't believe the West sees Africa or Africans as their equals
thats exactly it , this is a moral issue on our end. It's how the West see's this part of the world and if we really do believe an African life is valuable as our own then we would put that belief into action.. it falls not just on the shoulder's of politicians but on all of us
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