George Clooney gave a superb, impassioned and deeply moving speech to the Security Council at the UN on Thursday. He spoke on behalf of those who are voiceless in Darfur. He spoke with a depth of understanding of the complex issues in Sudan that would have been impressive in a diplomat but appears to be lacking in the highest levels of this administration.
The other George, one George Bush, President of the United States of America famously declared: "Not on my watch" when the atrocities in Rwanda penetrated his murky consciousness. He has spoken out about genocide in Darfur from time to time, but on his watch another genocide has unfolded and is about to reach its darkest hours.
On September 30th the insufficient African Union forces that have been trying to bring some measure of relief and protection to the 3 million Darfurians whose lives have been uprooted over the last 3 years will have to leave Sudan. A bloodbath will follow. Jan Engelund of the UN predicts that 100,000 people will die each month. By the New Year that will add up to as many deaths as in Rwanda in 1994.
Clooney deserves much credit for taking up the mantle that should be worn by our political leaders.
There is a rally in Central Park in New York tomorrow, organized by the Save Darfur Coalition to coincide with the general assembly of the UN. The organizers ask the UN and the Bush administration the following:
• Strengthen the understaffed and overwhelmed African Union peacekeeping force already in Darfur.
• Push for the deployment of a strong UN peacekeeping force.
• Implement the Darfur Peace Agreement.
• Increase humanitarian aid and ensure access for aid delivery
There are other rallies and events across the country and across the globe. This is not a hidden genocide. It has taken place in plain view, at least in the plain view of those who have the empathy, curiosity and compassion of George Clooney, the members of the Save Darfur Coalition and the thousands of people across the globe who want to stop genocide. Why is this not enough?
When I stop putting this issue on the front burner I only have to think of a man I met last year, a refugee from unspeakable atrocities in Darfur, his name was Adam. He was my translator. He is gone now....gone with his wife, five children and an orphaned niece and nephew. No-one knows what happened to them, they fled into the desert in the night. We are probably too late to save this family, but what about the others? They must be protected. Write the President, go to the rally tomorrow, send money, join the Save Darfur Coalition, play the mtvU video game Darfur is Dying...do Something. We all should. See you there.