400 thousand lives up in smoke
One million people displaced from their homes. They have taken 4 hundred thousand lives and counting. Entire villages systematically raped for intimidation less than 6 months ago. The difference between this and all the other genocides being researched is that it didn't happen 1000 years ago, 100 years ago or even 20 years ago. It is in full effect and the death toll is growing 100 per day. And most Americans never even heard of it. It's called the Darfur genocide.
Map of Darfur and Sudan including boardering countries
Darfur is a 190,148 square mile area in western Sudan. Sudan is the largest country in Africa. It borders the Red Sea, Libya, Egypt, Chad, Central African Republic and Ethiopia. The perpetrators of the genocide are formally known as the Janjaweed (That roughly translates to Devils on horseback). Run by General Omar Bashir, they are a government-armed, government-funded Arab military group with the cataclysmic goal of "cleansing" Sudan of all non-Arabs who in their opinion are impure and inhuman. They target the African farmers and other villagers.
The Janjaweed are purely responsible for the deaths of 480,000 and the displacement of about 3 million civilians; men, women, and children. They maintain power and control by looting economic resources, systematically burning villages, polluting water sources, and murdering, raping, and torturing innocent people. These tactics are also used for extermination when they feel it is necessary. In 1989 General Omar Bashir took control over Sudan through the military. That led to the National Islamic Front government fueling Religious and regional tensions. In response to complaints of civilians they disagreed with and two rebel groups about living conditions, in the year 2003, the Janjaweed attacked Darfur destroying hundreds of villages across Darfur starting their reign of terror!
In order to provide the most accurate recent information on the issue I called in a favor from my cousin Stephen Pomper, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights. During the interview I asked "why was Obama the first president to create a department focused towards genocides?"
Stephen Pomper responded, "A lot of other presidents have had people who worked on human rights issues for them. What he did that was special and new was created a special position on the national Security Council whose entire job was to prevent genocides. I think he realizes that if we want to be as good at stopping these things as people who are committing these horrible acts are at committing them, then we need to be more organized and one of the best ways to do that is to appoint someone whose job it is dedicated to stopping these things."
This is just one of the current things being done in the war against genocide. I followed that question with another. "What is currently being about the Darfur Genocide?"
Stephen Pomper responded, "Although Omar Bashir remains president of Sudan after all these years, after all the atrocities in Darfur came to light in the early 2000s, the UN Security Council referred his case, which is the situation in Darfur, to the international criminal Court which is a super international court in the Netherlands and they indicted him on multiple grounds for atrocity crimes and now he is in an arrest, or a fugitive from justice, which means he can't travel very freely ...he can't really travel to any country that is a member of the national criminal court. If he were to travel to anywhere in Europe he would be arrested and be forced to face justice. Also there's a very strong peacekeeping operation currently in Sudan called UNAMID and there are lots of things there that help protect civilians. Unfortunately there are so many conflicting parties in Sudan there's stuff that people are trying to do to help but none of them have been fully successful. As long as Omar Bashir remains in Sudan he is safe and as long as he's in Sudan the people of Sudan are at risk!"
The point that the Sudanese people are not safe is well supported. Less than 6 months ago the Janjaweed stormed many villages across Darfur and systematically raped all the women and girls.
The best way we can deal with genocide is to stop the roots and that doesn't mean killing the dictators before the rise to power although that is not a bad idea. That means stopping before they even get the idea in schools and in the home. We need to teach children how to spot a genocide before it begins because genocides don't start with murders, gas chambers, systematic rapes or prisons they start with words. Is important to learn about this because history repeats itself and if it happens once it can happen again and if we learn how such things happen we can recognize the beginning of them and prevent them from happening in the future. Also it is important to teach kids these people's stories so they don't go untold.
Although Stephen Pomper described only small progress in Darfur, he was more encouraged by the work that he and others are supporting in places like Nigeria and Sri Lanka . In both of those countries, former sites of violent atrocities, peaceful elections indeed resulted In a new and peaceful leadership regime.
Darfur is so far the worst genocide of the 21st century and goes to prove that even now a massive genocide can break out just as easy as it could have a thousand years ago. Don't let history repeat itself again!
"N.p., n.d. Web."
"Sudan." News. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2015
"United Human Rights Council." United Human Rights Council. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.
interview with "Stephen Pomper, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights"