A call to arms for Darfur

The world is so full of warfare and turmoil that it is easy to grow indifferent and often ignorant to the atrocities occurring throughout the world. So it is not surprising that many people I have encountered are rather unfamiliar with the sad turn of events in Darfur, Sudan. This situation deserves a great deal more attention that it is receiving.

I will give you a brief description of the conflict in Darfur.

In the country of Sudan is the region of Darfur, a large area of land mixed with Arab and African citizens. These two groups have been fighting with each other for some time. Tensions escalated in 2003, when rebel groups attacked the government of Sudan in protest of their belief that non-Arab citizens were not treated with the same concern that Arab citizens enjoyed. Indeed, they felt that their people were being marginalized and ignored by the government.

In response, the Sudanese government gave free reign to the Janjaweed, a radical militia from the Arab population of Sudan. The Janjaweed have now killed roughly 30,000 innocent civilians; countless women have been raped, and roughly 1.4 million people have been driven from their homes. Many of these people are taking refuge in nearby countries such as Chad, living in makeshift camps that provide very little protection and very few resources to live on. All in all, thousands are dying from disease and starvation.

Evidence also exists that indicates that the Sudanese government not only tolerates the Janjaweed, but is also working with them to help attack the non-Arab civilians. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said that the situation in Darfur is genocide; human rights organizations are desperately calling for action.

Both Powell and the various human rights organizations are correct – this situation is genocide and action must be taken. As usual, those who wield the power to help change the problem are the governments of leading nations (especially the United States), and the only way to get these governments to care is through the actions of their own citizens – not through cries for help from Darfur.

So I ask, take a stand against the abuses of the people in Darfur. The ways to help this conflict may seem minor, but it is vital that people show their support. Write to your congressional representative and persuade him or her to support and approve funding for the African Union (who has sent soldiers to help the innocent civilians in Darfur, but is in need of more funds) and – more importantly – to show support for sanctions against the Sudanese government. One can even write President George W. Bush and ask him to put pressure on the Sudanese government until it stops the human rights abuses.

I call for all of American society to raise its collective voice for the 1.4 million civilians who have run from their homes in an attempt to escape rape and murder in Darfur. The greatest political changes have originated from grassroots movements. If we wish to stop genocide, we cannot sit idly and let the lives of millions fall into the worst of fates.

No – we must take action.

To learn more about the allegations of human rights violations in Darfur, Sudan, please visit the following Web sites:
www.amnesty.org
www.msf.org
www.americanprogressaction.org

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