"8000 would have died
at the end of the night
meeting for a month
over the use of their words
as if the slaughtered
were not people
but merely sheep herds"
-excerpt from "Clinton Toe Blood", one of many poems to be found in "Say it! Say Gen-O-Cide!!", Kobina Wright's new book of verse inspired by the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide.
Ladies and gentlemen, consider this your official wake-up call.
In the wake of the Holocaust, the newly minted United Nations created a convention in 1948 (in essence, a treaty, because all of the participants were required to pass laws under their own systems of government that legally bound them to the obligations of the resolution) that defined in no uncertain terms the circumstances under which it's member nations would act to prevent such an atrocity from ever happening again.
So, according to this, the legal definition of genocide (i.e. the one that the United States has been legally bound to stop for the last 56 years) is this:
"...any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."
After apparently having his ass handed to him in Somalia, Bill Clinton dithered for months over whether to actually use the word "genocide" with regards to Rwanda, because the minute he said it, he was legally obligated to stop it and he no longer had the political spine for it. After all, it's not like he could have just conducted an air war against hatchet men who where killing whole families, house to house. It would have required sending in ground troops as peacekeepers (unlike Bosnia, hence the differences in the interventions).
Say what you will about Monica Lewinsky. Allowing the rape and dismemberment of 800,000 people out of cowardice is a much bigger moral failure than getting a blow job.
Which brings me to Sudan and the Congo.
Now, I can only guess why the Sudan is all of a sudden in the news. I seem to recall seeing something about this back in 1997, but, after a little web research, I see that it was only a civil war that killed thousands then. Nothing for the international community to be concerned about.
Which would be the only reasonable explanation as to why no one has done a damn thing about the Democratic Republic of Congo.
I think the only people in mainstream, apolitical America who have the foggiest idea about Congo are those who watched ER's 2002-03 season finale and 2003-04 season premiere. After their corrupt President fled in 1998, the country collapsed into a civil war that lasted 5 years, involving a bunch of different rebel groups vying for power, as well as the armies of 6 different African countries hoping to influence the outcome so that they could benefit from Congo's natural resources. The shooting officially stopped a year ago with the creation of a jury-rigged transitional government that can't quite bring itself to hold an election.
Five million died over the course of five years there.
Imagine: 2 people on average were killed every minute, for five years straight. I haven't even lived in Los Angeles that long, yet.
But, it was officially considered a civil war by the western powers, so they just let them die. Can't get involved, right?
According to article referenced above from the Washington Post, at least 30,000 Black Africans in Sudan have been systematically killed by the militias sponsored by the Arabic government of that country to squash dissent. Whole villages of Africans have been burned to the ground while Arabic villages only a few hundred yards away have been left completely untouched, and the government is actively working to prevent international aid groups from providing relief to the hundreds of thousands of refugees in an attempt to starve them out.
But Colin Powell says that he's not - quite - sure this is officially a genocide yet.
I'm sure you can understand, right? After all, the US barely has enough troops to pacify Iraq for our new figureheads over there. And, even if the US can't commit troops, it doesn't want other countries to act on the genocide convention in Sudan because they want France & Co. to send their troops to Iraq as well.
Give Colin a call at 202-647-4000 or 202-647-6607 like the good people at Moveon.org are suggesting and tell him about himself. I did this morning. The lady was very polite and agreed to pass my message on. Of course, the 1st number doesn't seem to be working to well right now (and hence, the point).
And call your congressional representatives. I just spoke with Jim Clark, chief of staff for my congresswoman, Diane Watson, and he says that the Congressional Black Caucus is going to introduce a concurrent resolution with the Senate (H Con Res 467 to be exact for those of you who like Thomas, the Library of Congress legislative database) that officially declares what's happening in the Sudan as genocide when the House reconvenes on July 6th.
Not surprisingly, Senator Diane Feinstein's people sounded less enthusiastic about it (i.e. "the Senator is deeply concerned about this issue, blah blah blah...") although her people did say that she plans on issuing some kind of statement.
Senator Barbara Boxer's guy had nothing, but did say he'd pass on any message I had for her. I told him to ask her to support the CBC's H. CON. RES. 467 on her side of the legislature on my behalf.
For the record, today is the first day I've ever called my congressional representatives. Pretty freakin' kewl, huh?
Similarly, Human Rights Watch has a whole list of things you can do about this, such as contacting members of the UN security council, or even yelling at the Sudanese government directly. HRW also has a full site dedicated to the atrocities in the Sudan, so you can learn about it in full detail.
My point is, do something. We don't want to celebrate another 10 year anniversary where we pretended we didn't know that 1000's were dying needlessly.
Moreover, if you do make a call or do whatever, I'd love to know about it. Drop a note here on my comments section by clicking this green text .