Being Accountable for Darfur on Holocaust Remembrance Day
Photo of Burning Synagogue during Kristallnacht
But we have failed to learn the lessons of history.
Genocides are not just a matter for historians but rather we as Americans must shoulder responsibility for confronting the genocide of today. In particular, the ethnic cleansing going on in Darfur, a region of Sudan.
Map of Darfur
As reported by the CBC, the human toll in Darfur has been nothing short of horrendous:
On Monday, January 31, the UN released the report of its Commission of Inquiry on Darfur. The Commission "found that Government forces and militias conducted indiscriminate attacks, including killing of civilians, torture, enforced disappearances, destruction of villages, rape and other forms of sexual violence, pillaging and forced displacement, throughout Darfur. These acts were conducted on a widespread and systematic basis, and therefore may amount to crimes against humanity." The Commission concludes that, "the crimes against humanity and war crimes that have been committed in Darfur may be no less serious and heinous than genocide."It is hard to know how many have already died in Darfur because of violent attacks, rapes and murders. As the BBC has recently noted:
Some analysts are estimating that the true death toll could be four or five times higher than the 70,000 figure.As in every tragedy, the victims that are hardest to accept are the children. Human Rights Watch recently collected and shared drawing by children who are victims of the Darfur genocide.
One significant problem in establishing a clear idea is that the Sudanese government and their allies, an Arab militia known as the Janjaweed, are blamed for most of the deaths, so the Khartoum authorities show little interest in encouraging any accurate assessment. Indeed they consistently underplay the scale of the crisis.
Drawing by "Mahmoud" (name changed), age 13. Caption:
“These men in green are taking the women and the girls. They are forcing them to be wife. The houses are on fire. This is a helicopter. These here, at the bottom of the page, these are dead people.”Meanwhile, in Congress, Senator Jon Corzine, along with Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) have introduced and the Senate unanimously passed a bill called the "Darfur Accountability Act" which calls for sanctions to be placed against Sudan, and the "establishment of a special presidential envoy to the region."
But apparently the "war on terrorism" requires friendship with Sudan and this President feels he must look the other way when it comes to genocide.
As reported today in the Journal Sentinel:
"Never Again" is the call on Holocaust Day.
But U.S. policy on Darfur seems to have collapsed. Far from backing the Darfur Accountability Act, the Bush administration opposes it. This opposition, perhaps stemming from a desire to retain Sudanese cooperation in the war on terrorism, is indefensible. The measures contained in the bill are sensible.
It seeks a new United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing sanctions against the regime; imposes an arms embargo on Sudan; freezes the assets of and denies visas to Sudanese officials; provides help to an African Union military mission in Darfur; imposes a military no-fly zone over Darfur; and calls for the appointment of a special presidential envoy for Sudan.
But with this President it is "Again and Again!"
America deserves better! The world needs an America that doesn't drop the ball on questions of Genocide.
And John Kerry? He understands the horrors of genocide! Speaking at an Armenian memorial ceremony, Kerry stated:
"Armenians can understand what's going on in Darfur [Sudan] today. Our responsibility is to honor them by recognizing the genocide.""Never again" should any child have to say "We needed help. There was no one to protect us."