Monday, October 31, 2005

Despite ‘truce,’ genocide continues

U.S. intervention in Sudan a matter of conscience
By Leah Otto

I am saddened that the U.S. news media have dropped their coverage of the war in Sudan. Since the peace agreement was signed on Jan. 9, it is hard to find U.S. news coverage of the issue. In the American eye it seems that Africa’s longest civil war has ended when, in fact, it has continued with a vengeance.

According the United Nations, the situation in Sudan is a major humanitarian crisis. The U.S., therefore, has a moral responsibility to take action against genocide in Darfur, Sudan. The actions taken by the Sudanese government, and the fact that the U.S. has publicly deemed these actions genocide, lend to the fact that the United States has a moral responsibility to Sudan.

The Sudanese government’s actions against its people are atrocious. According to a UNICEF article, “At a Glance: Sudan,” even though the peace agreement was signed on Jan. 9, supposedly marking the end of a 21-year-long civil war, the fighting that started in Darfur, Sudan, has continued. This unrest has affected 2.4 million people since it started in 2003.

The Sudan Tribune, in an article titled “Darfur Rebel SLA Split Participation in Peace Talks,” claims up to 300,000 people have died because of war-related causes, and more than 2 million have been displaced between the start of the uprising in Darfur and Sept. 16.

The Sudanese government conducts indiscriminate bombings and aerial attacks against clearly defined civilian targets. The government military is involved in killing, torture, rape, looting and destruction of property. As if that weren’t enough, the government has placed impediments and restrictions on access for humanitarian aid agencies. Because of this limited aid, according to Amnesty International, people are in danger of starvation and illness.

As Americans, we cannot let these acts of inhumanity go unchecked. Innocent people are dying by the masses because of their own government; those set in place to protect the general public are hurting them instead.

CBS reported on Aug. 28, that the United Nations is calling the situation the “greatest crisis in the world.” The United Nations calls for action to protect civilians. Dr. Jan Coebergh, author of “Sudan: genocide has killed more than the tsunami,” (Parliamentary Brief, February 2005) stated, “During the summer of 2004, the U.S. Congress, followed by the U.S. State Department and then the EU parliament, declared the Sudan government’s actions genocide.” The United Nations is currently investigating the situation and has not made a public statement as to whether they also deem the Sudanese government’s actions genocide.

Because the U.S. has clearly proclaimed an act of genocide in Sudan, it must act on that claim. Are we not a country that lives by our word? Then we must act on what we say. Millions of lives are at stake.

The U.S. has taken some action simply by acknowledging an act of genocide, but we need to go further. The U.S. needs to take action before this situation becomes another Rwanda. Sitting back and waiting for a better time to intervene, or simply encouraging the United Nations to mediate, will only allow more pain and suffering. We must remember that as citizens of the same planet, we have a moral obligation to aid our fellow inhabitants in a crisis such as this.

Africa’s longest civil war is not over. Sudan is facing a situation that could become another Rwanda, and the Unites States needs to step up to the plate. After reporting the facts of the problem in Darfur and declaring an act of genocide, the U.S. has a moral responsibility to take action against the government of Sudan to protect the rights of all Sudanese people. The more the media lets the American people know about this situation, the more our government will take notice.

Wayne. She wrote this for The Journal Gazette.

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