Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Avian Flu, Swine Flu and the Crisis in Darfur: Wash Your Hands, But Do Not Wash Your Hands of the People of Darfur

Image: Frida Kahlo, Love Embrace of the Universe

Lord, make me
an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

Avian Flu, Swine Flu and the Crisis in Darfur: Wash Your Hands, But Do Not Wash Your Hands of the People of Darfur

By Richard Power

Life is a oneness. Everything and everyone everywhere is connected. Overcome one threat and you weaken all the others.

The threat of pandemic is real and always with us.

I worked on global pandemic planning a few years back, in response to the danger of Avian Flu, and I understand the concern that many people try to shrug off. At that time, I warned executives in Indonesia that their country would be hit hard. They scoffed. Six months later, the first deaths came in Indonesia, within the next year, they led the world in the number of deaths. More than half of all bird flu deaths worldwide since 2005 have occurred in Indonesia, World Health Organisation figures show. More than twice as many Indonesians have died of the disease than in Vietnam, which with 48 deaths is the second most affected country. AFP, 1-29-08

It is fortunate that Janet Napolitano is in charge at the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). She communicates toughness and common sense. Indeed, this crisis may help DHS gain a new identity and a new self-respect after coming into being in the incredible and studied incompetence of the Bush-Cheney regime.

Don't underestimate the risks. The WHO's escalation from Alert Level 3 to Alert Level 4 is serious. This is not a drill, and this is not the manipulation of the population by a cynical regime determined to terrorize it.

With luck, we will dodge the bullet.

Although it is less likely we will heed the warning and act on the hidden meaning of this story: Investigations now reveal that the swine flu epidemic that began in Mexico and spread worldwide is probably connected to pollution caused by unsanitary pig breeding farms in the region. Eco Worldly, 4-27-09

Meanwhile, the people of Darfur are in dire need and imminent danger. A slow motion genocide is being conducted by the Thugocray in Karthoum, and the great nations have turned away in moral and political weakness.

Mia Farrow has begun her hunger strike.

She is urging all to call 1-800-Genocide. This toll free number has been set up to put you through to your elected representatives and to the White House.

Life is a oneness. Everything and everyone everywhere is connected. Overcome one threat and weaken all the others.

Here is the transcript of Farrow's appearance on Larry King Live last night, with a link to the full text:

KING: From Bridgewater, Connecticut, we welcome the wonderful, talented Mia Farrow, the actress and activist. She is, as well, a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador. And she began a hunger strike today. Why, Mia?
MIA FARROW, UN GOODWILL AMBASSADOR: Because, Larry, more than a million people are going to die unless the status quo changes. You probably know that for the last six years, there has been what has been called genocide on-going in the Darfur region of Sudan. And hundreds of thousands of people have been killed. Millions have been driven to camps across Darfur and Eastern Chad.
And last March, things just got a whole lot worse when the president of Sudan, a wanted man for war crimes and crimes against humanity, expelled 16 key aid agencies from the Darfur region, leaving about ... four million, approximately, will be without a life line.
And the United Nations has implored the Sudanese president, al Bashir, to readmit the expelled agencies. But so far that hasn't happened. And we could be seeing a genocide that will dwarf the Rwandan genocide.
KING: What do you want, Mia? What do you hope by starving yourself? Do you hope to draw attention, obviously, but what do you want the government -- what do you want the United States to do?
FARROW: Well, you know, I come from a generation that ended a war that we deemed to be unjust by pressure on the government, taking to the streets, as you well know. You know, that was born on campuses. And if we look at Apartheid, that effected change. I don't think the government is going to take robust action without the voice of the people. So I thought, I believe that if the people know what's happening in Darfur, if people inform themselves, and if this is helping at all, then people, let your voices be heard, because Darfur's people are crying out for help. And they can't be heard right now.
So it's great that you're interviewing me, and I suppose you wouldn't have had I not gone on a hunger strike. ...
KING: How do you prepare for this, by the way, for a hunger strike?
FARROW: I asked my doctor, who said he'd never been asked that before. And then I went on the Internet and tried to inform myself about is there a preparation and how long could I go conceivably? And no one knows. I mean, I've set a goal of three weeks. But my doctor said, given my weight, it's unrealistic to suppose I could go that long. Maybe it will be two weeks. Maybe it will be 16 days, one day for every single one of the aid workers that have been expelled.
I think people can be heard in all sorts of ways. One way -- I mean we set up a 1-800-Genocide number. If people want to call that, it will connect them immediately with their legislators and/or with the White House.
KING: That's 1-800-Genocide.
Larry King Live, CNN, 4-27-09

As always, 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.

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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