January 7, 2008
By Hewon Yook, Alexandria, VA

To those who live in Darfur, the terror of death, starvation, rape, and torture is as prosaic as the earth they walk upon. We have heard these words so many times that they have lost all meaning. However, I urge you to reflect upon what these terms translate into: a nine year-old girl leaning noiselessly upon a tree after she has been brutally raped, or a teenage boy thumbing the identification cards of the family members whose executions he bore witness to – this is the reality. Sudanese civilians, our brothers and sisters of the human race, are utterly enveloped in torture that few Americans can, or want to, imagine. Is this why each passing day, the media, the government, and the citizens of America take no notice of this unsettling humanitarian emergency?

The Sudanese government itself has targeted civilians in response to Darfurian rebel groups who claim to confront underdevelopment and political marginalization. The Sudanese people live in constant fear of this government-instigated brutality that has killed over 400,000 people and displaced over 2.5 million more.

Initially, the Sudanese government and the United Nations attempted to bring the savagery to an end by granting power to the African Union (A.U.), which was established to rid the African continent of division. In addition, the Sudanese government endorsed the A.U. because the existence of the Union would prevent unwelcome sanctions as well as U.S. or European intervention. It was a feasible proposition in theory, yet in actuality, the A.U. soon became under-funded and under-manned. Furthermore, in October of 2004, the A.U. undertook the additional responsibility of equipping and supplying over 3,500 more monitors, peacekeepers, and civilian police. As a result, on November 17, 2006 the United Nations proposed the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force to Sudan. However, Sudanese government immediately rejected the proposal as an act of Western invasion. Sudan responded by stating that the A.U. has “no right to transfer this assignment to the U.N. or any other party,” and that the right to give an entity the authority to mend the situation “rests with the government of Sudan.” Sudan then asked not only the A.U. task force, but also the U.N. to leave Darfur by the end of September 2006, ultimately asserting its opposition to Western help while the situation continued to worsen. Regrettably, the A.U., unable to support such a large number of peacekeepers, has fallen into disarray since then.

All subsequent proposals to deploy UN peacekeeping forces to Sudan met with fierce opposition from the Sudanese government. This very day, President Bashir continues to ignore political pressure to end the genocide.
But there is hope. The future leaders of tomorrow are right in front of us – eating breakfast, reading the newspaper, and going to school. America’s young generation is ultimately the one that will make a difference, even today. Raise money and send it to non-governmental organizations such as the Save Darfur Coalition, Genocide Watch, or the Genocide Intervention Network. Organize fasts for Darfur one day every month and donate what you save to humanitarian aid organizations. Start awareness groups at your school. Organize a lobbying day to talk with policy makers at the State Department, Defense department, and the National Security Council. Insist that your senators share information we have on crimes by Sudanese leaders with the International Criminal Court; demand enforcement of UN Security Council Resolution 1706 to put 20,000 UN troops in Darfur to protect civilians in refugee camps and their own villages; and work with France, Britain, and other allies to establish a no-fly zone over Darfur.

As human rights activist Nicholas Clooney urges, “Call your two senators. Call the newspapers, call the radio and television stations. Ask, ‘What’s going in Darfur? Don’t you know there are 400,000 people dead over there? Shouldn’t we be doing something about it? Isn’t that what America is about?’”

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This article has 1 comment.

Sunshine said...
on Nov. 27 2008 at 1:02 am
thanks you so much for writing this!I am so glad to know someone cares. I love how you called them our brother and sisters of the human race, too many people forget that fact. I CAN'T BELEIVE I didn't think to write to my senators before reading this!!! especially now in the age of the internet, I can e-mail them. thank you!


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