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Genocide must end

Jeannine Privat | Monday, September 13, 2004

Last week, in our nation’s capital, Secretary of State Colin Powell, sat in front of the Senate Committee of Foreign Relations and uttered the word “genocide.” Not in reference to the Holocaust or Rwanda, but to the mass slaughter of men, women and children today in Darfur, Sudan.

This is not just torture, not just ethnic cleansing and not just systematic rape, it is genocide. Yet again, the old cliché “Never again” has been ignored. The world faces the horror of genocide once more. Another holocaust, except, instead of the use of systematic gases and shootings, these perpetrators in Dafur use fire, burning people alive in their homes, use rape, sometimes raping women to death; and use machetes, hacking people apart until they are beaten or bled to death. Genocide is not a thing of the past. It will not go away. It is going on now. As you read this column, it is likely an African from Darfur is being killed by the janjaweed militia, is dying from starvation or is suffering from one of the myriad diseases that quickly spread in the temporary refugee camps.

Numbers vary, but current estimates place the number of Africans who have already been killed at 50,000, with up to a million and a half people ousted from their homes. Around 100,000 refugees have fled to neighboring Chad, with more trying to cross the border everyday.

Imagine, for a second, that your life is completely different. Your life centers on the day-to-day mundane trials of merely surviving. You take pleasure in the most simple of things: an extra piece of ripened fruit, good health, clean water and a beaten up half-inflated soccer ball. Now imagine, that the little that you have, the little that you live for has been taken away.

One night, your village is stormed; your mother and sisters are brutally raped and your father beaten to death while you cower hidden behind one of the few pieces of furniture in your one-room home. The smell of smoke overwhelms you as the janjaweed sets fire to your entire village. You struggle to run out, and maybe if you’re lucky, you escape. With absolutely nothing but your life and the little bit of clothing on your back. You’re an innocent, you’ve done nothing. But, still people whom you have never even met hate you so much that they will stop at nothing to wipe you off the face of the earth.

How many times must we come face to face with the perpetrators and victims of genocide until we finally put an end to it? Do not discount the existence of the people who have lost everything. Their homes, their families, their land, their crops and food, their livelihood. For those 50,000 who have perished, respect their memory and for those 1.5 million who have little more than the blood pumping through their veins, respect their humanity. Do what you can. Above all, inform yourself. Do not be ignorant to the fact that the Sudanese are being systematically slaughtered.