A year ago I spent Yom Kippur in a refugee camp in Eastern Chad. I posted about the experience on the Huffington Post, using generator-powered satellite internet access provided by a relief organization. I was in a town so desolate that its hospital did not even have a well, let alone running water. I was visiting refugees from the genocide across the border in Darfur. Despite the chaos of that day and the threat of rebel activity nearby (we were coached to listen for shouts of "Uragan Uragan" and then to rush to a security point for evacuation) it didn't occur to me that a year later things could be worse.
Today the NGOs have withdrawn form that part of Chad, there is so much fighting it is too dangerous to work there. Refugees who were somewhat safe in camps have had to disperse. More villages have been burned and thousand more have died. Meanwhile in Sudan the plight of the Darfurians is unresolved. The Peace Agreement trumpeted by the Bush administration in May is a mockery that never had a hope of holding as it was not signed by all the parties involved in the conflict. The Security Council has voted for a UN peacekeeping force to go to Sudan, but the Sudanese Government is unlikely to agree to the presence of such a force.
Here on HuffPo I have stated that "genocide trumps everything" as a crime against humanity, but today I understand that it is POLITICS that trumps absolutely everything. I say this because there is a lot that must be done to end this, the first genocide of the 21st century, and it's all about politics:
- Political and diplomatic pressure on the Government of Sudan could and would end this genocide if the Bush administration would put genocide ahead of a special intelligence gathering relationship.
- European Governments with oil interests in Sudan should put genocide above their self-interest.
- China could be made to understand that there are consequences to cooperating with a genocidal government who supply oil.
- UN peacekeepers could deploy to Chad instead of vainly waiting for the Government of Sudan to agree to let them in.
- The ICC should be supported to bring perpetrators of genocide to justice.
Meanwhile what can the rest of us do? A lot. On this day when Jews ask: "who shall live and who shall die?" we can all do something to make a difference. Since politics trumps genocide and we have an election coming up in a month, may I suggest that voters hold their elected officials accountable for where they stand on issues like genocide. That is the best way to let the Bush administration know that we care about policy and especially about policy that affects who shall live and who shall die.
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