What message has the world sent to the people of Darfur and eastern Chad?
Only that they are completely dispensable I some larger Monopoly game.
Next month I will return to the region.
People will tell me their stories and again they will plead for protection.
I will listen, I will write down every word. Again I will hold broken women in my arms -- and again I will promise them I will indeed tell the world what is happening to them. I will take more photographs. And then, somehow -- I will leave them there in their hell and come back to an indifferent world.
What is required now and for future genocides, is the will of the international community to accept it's responsibility to protect civilians threatened by genocide, ethnic cleansing or crimes against humanity. A responsibility unanimously accepted by the UN in 2005 -words proving to be as hollow as 'never again'
Genocide Sudanese-style is expensive. It requires bombers, attack helicopters and a steady flow of arms and ammunition.
Some 70% of Chinese oil revenues -- which now top $2 billion per year, have been used to attack the non-Arab population of Darfur.
The vast majority of weaponry used to attack civilians across Darfur is of Chinese origin.
But there is now one thing that China holds more dear than it's unfettered access to Sudanese oil: their successful staging of the 2008 Summer Olympics. That desire is proving to be a lone point of leverage with a country that has previously been impervious to all criticism.
Under intense international pressure, Beijing hired two international press firms to sanitize its image and appointed a special envoy to Darfur. Most significantly, China for the first time signed on to a resolution authorizing peacekeepers for the region, but only after removing some of the resolutions sharpest teeth -- including any mandate to disarm the jonahed. And the force's composition and capabilities remain in the hands of the Sudanese regime -- which continues, to place every conceivable obstacle in the way of an effective deployment of the peacekeepers.
For five years governments have watched the slaughter in Darfur and failed to take action. And so an unprecedented phenomenon has emerged: individuals have taken up the responsibility to protect this tormented population. Scores of US Congressmen and European parliamentarians, as well as Nobel prizewinners, athletes, artists and ordinary citizens have taken a public stand urging China to use its influence to stop the killing and to reassess its no-strings-attached backing of abusive regimes across the globe.
But the voices of individuals alone will not be enough to move China. Those most likely to have China's ear in the lead up to the Games are those underwriting the ceremony. Corporate sponsors -- Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Johnson and Johnson, General Electric, Visa, Addidas and Microsoft have refused to do anything at all to express their concern. For them, even in the face of genocide, it is "business as usual." If you are as disgusted as I am and you wish to let them know how you feel-their contacts are on my website miafarrow.org.
If Beijing elected to act rather than talk, there is plenty it could do.
*China could use its influence to insist that the Janjaweed be disarmed
*China could demand that the regime call a halt to the on-going attacks and aerial bombardment of civilians
*China could demand that Khartoum cease to obstruct the deployment of peacekeepers.
*China could refuse to sell weapons to Sudan
*China could threaten to suspend new oil deals with Sudan.
How can China host the Olympic Games at home, and underwrite genocide in Sudan?
We look at Rwanda and despair at our abysmal failure to act.
When the history of this terrible episode in human destruction is written, will we have any less reason to despair? Our country, the United Nations and all the nations of the world failed the people of Rwanda, and we are failing the people of Darfur -- collectively and individually we have failed them -- even as we have utterly failed out most essential selves.
As Elie Wiesel wrote in amazement...
"The victims [of the Holocaust] perished not only because of the killers, but also because of the apathy of the bystanders. What astonished us after the torment, after the tempest, was not that so many killers killed so many victims, but that so few cared about us at all."