Saturday, February 23, 2008

Darfur Crisis Update: Bush is AWOL on Darfur, But He is Not Alone; Most of Us are Ignoring a Genocide

For More Compelling Photos from Mia Farrow's Journeys, click here.

The international community seems unable to comprehend the overwhelming urgency of the security crisis for civilians and humanitarians north of el-Geneina in West Darfur. Over the past few days, the Khartoum regime has resumed the brutal campaign north of el-Geneina that began on February 8, 2008 ... Many tens of thousands of civilians have been displaced; more than 12,000 have been forced to flee to Chad, where efforts to provide humanitarian assistance are encountering a range of severe challenges. And ominously, there are several reports that many hundreds of children remain unaccounted for. The UN’s Integrated Regional Information Network reports: “There are an unknown number of children aged 12-18 who are missing, especially boys. Nobody knows what has happened to these children..." Eric Reeves, Sudan Research, Analysis and Advocacy, 2-19-08

Darfur Crisis Update: Bush is AWOL on Darfur, But He is Not Alone; Most of Us are Ignoring a Genocide

By Richard Power

Eric Reeves' report from the Sudan is unambiguous: the forces of Karthoum's thugocracy are on the offensive again, they are disappearing children, especially boys.

What is it that the mainstream news media, the political establishment and other major power centers within this society fail to understand about the crisis in Darfur?

Or is it that Darfur is simply another "inconvenient truth"?

What is certain is that all of the soul-searching, self-recrimination and declarations of resolve that world leaders (such as Bill Clinton) exhibited in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide was nothing more than showboating.

The great nations have chosen to do nothing of any significance, and they maintain a choke-hold on the UN Security Council; therefore, in Darfur, day after day, the unspeakable is allowed to accelerate toward the incomprehensible.

Unless there is a miracle of some kind, one day, sooner than later, it will be too late. You and I are the likeliest hope for such a miracle.

Recently, after much vocal and passionate urging from Mia Farrow and other Darfur activists, film maker Steven Spielberg answered the call of conscience and quit the Beijing Olympics:

I find that my conscience will not allow me to continue with business as usual. At this point, my time and energy must be spent not on Olympic ceremonies, but on doing all I can to help bring an end to the unspeakable crimes against humanity that continue to be committed in Darfur. STATEMENT FROM STEVEN SPIELBERG REGARDING BEIJING OLYMPIC GAMES AND DARFUR

Subsequently, the issue of Spielberg's action was raised in a BBC interview with George W. Bush, but the "leader of the free world" persisted in his disingenuous posturing concerning the crisis in Darfur:

Bush boasted that the United States is the “only nation” to have called the situation in Darfur “genocide.” Yet later in the interview, Bush was asked if he would “applaud” Steven Speilberg’s recent decision to withdraw as artistic director of the Beijing Olympics because China is not doing enough to pressure Sudan to end the genocide in Darfur. “That’s up to him,” Bush said dismissively, adding, “I’m going to the Olympics. I view the Olympics as a sporting event.” Think Progress, 2-16-08

That's right. In the space of a few moments, Bush acknowledged that what is happening in Darfur is indeed a genocide, and then proceeded to insist that attending the Olympics as "a sporting event" was somehow more important.

Unfortunately, Spielberg's act of simple decency was ballyhooed as some great victory, as if the aim of Darfur activism was just to convince one Hollywood mogul to stand up to the Chinese and demand that they squeeze their surrogates in Karthoum until the thugs ease up on the people of Darfur.

No, that is not aim of this activism.

The aim of this activism is to get a whole society, a whole economy, a whole body politic to stand up not only to the Chinese, and to our own government, but to those individuals who choose to think of themselves as being corporations instead of collection of human beings connected to all other human beings. What is demanded of us all is direct, unyielding engagement as well as dire consequences for those responsible for perpetrating crimes against humanity.

What would it cost a cable news network to commit even a few minutes of each broadcast day to news of the genocide in Darfur? Chump change.

What would would it cost an NFL or NBA team to wear arm bands for an entire season to raise awareness about the genocide in Darfur? Chump change.

What does it say about us as a culture when such simple but powerful acts are not even remote possibilities?

Recently, in yet another eloquent post, Mia Farrow named names:

We need to push harder on China. Let's boycott the Olympic Sponsors. Let's boycott the opening ceremonies of the games. Let's boycott Chinese goods. And let's not forget Tibet and Burma and those Chinese citizens whose human rights have been abused or denied.
Lets not go to McDonalds -- it's Burger king for me. There ARE alternatives to supporting this unacceptable situation:
Don't drink Coca Cola, give Pepsi a try -- or drink water!
Don't use Kodak film, think about buying Fuji film.
Don't eat at McDonald's, stop by Burger King for a while.
Don't make your purchases with Visa, try Mastercard or American Express.
Don't wear Adidas, slip on some Reeboks.
Don't drink Budweiser from Anheuser-Busch, try Heinekin.
Don't wear a Swatch, try Timex for a change.
Don't shop at Staples, try Office Max.
Don't use GE light bulbs, buy a generic brand.
Don't drive a Volkswagen, put a Darfur bumper sticker on your car.
Don't use Johnson and Johnson products, buy the drug store brand Don't use Microsoft, send an email to all corporate sponsors, including: Atos Origin, BHP Billiton, Samsung, Panasonic, UPS, Manulife, and Lenovo.
And feel better
Mia Farrow, 2-21-08

I encourage you to follow events in Darfur on Mia Farrow's site, it is the real-time journal of a humanitarian at work; the content is compelling, insightful and fiercely independent.

Click here to sign the TURN OFF/TUNE IN Pledge.

For a Words of Power Archive of posts on the Crisis in Darfur, click here.

Here are other sites of importance:

Dream for Darfur

Enough: The Project to End Genocide and Mass Atrocities

Genocide Intervention Network

Divest for Darfur.

Save Darfur!

Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.

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