Stop the genocide

Letter to the editor

Posted: Monday, July 18, 2005

The most powerful leaders of the world's richest countries spent three days discussing international issues but scarcely mentioned the ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan. The government of Sudan has sponsored the killing of up to 400,000 people since 2003. More than 2.5 million people have been displaced by government forces and their paramilitary associates. These forces have raped thousands of women and girls. The government of Sudan even obstructs the humanitarian efforts to alleviate this suffering. How could the most powerful political leaders spend three days discussing how to fight poverty yet fail to confront the most blatant political strife that is contributing to famine conditions for millions of innocents?

As Rwanda and Srebenica have shown, politicians are prone to paralysis in periods of terrible human crisis. Yet even this past week as they acknowledged their guilt and shortcomings for the massacre at Srebenica, they failed to even speak out in a strong voice against the ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan.

Too often political leaders in the west, and particularly the United States, use the cause of human rights as justification for policies they wished to pursue for other reasons. Nevertheless they shirk the banner of democracy and the standard of human rights when it does not serve their purposes.

The death toll in Darfur increases at the rate of 1,500 people per month, and the tide of human suffering is multiplied tenfold. The African Union is struggling to stop this terrible tragedy, but they need the backing of a strong international intervention force, led by the United States. According to a May 2005 Zogby poll, more than 80 percent of Americans support strong American action to stop the killing.

President Bush and Congress must pass and sign into the law the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act. This Act calls for increased support of the African Union, stopping the Sudanese government from using aircraft to attack civilians, bringing the perpetrators of the massacres and war crimes to justice, and dispatching U.S. diplomats to help the peace process.

We have a moral obligation to stop the genocide in Darfur. Instead of waiting for the politicians to say "never again" once the massacre is over, we have to tell them that the time to stop genocide is now.

Hector Douglas


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