sudan news record

Monday, April 18, 2005

Singer Agnes Chan visits Darfur

17 April 2005

Channel News Asia - Singapore : Singer Agnes Chan said she had witnessed first-hand the hardships faced by displaced persons in Sudan's war-torn Darfur following a three-day tour of the region.
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"The trip was very emotional to me," said Chan, a major celebrity in Japan, who visited the region in her capacity as goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF). "All people spoke from their hearts," she told reporters, referring to some of the estimated 2.4 million people displaced by over two years of conflict between government forces and ethnic minority rebels in the region. Chan said they told her about the appalling conditions under which they live and "the hardships and difficulties they are facing in getting such basic needs as water and primary health care." The singer also mentioned an encounter with a mother at the Abu Shouk camp near el-Fashir, the capital of North Darfur state, whom Chan asked what she wanted. You know what I want? "I want education for my children and I want food and security and I want to go back home," the woman replied. The UN said as many as 180,000 people may have died over the past two years in Darfur, mostly from disease and malnutrition, but a recent British parliamentary report put the figure at around 300,000. Chan said the purpose of her visit was to try to help "raise the awareness of the Japanese people about the tragic situation in Darfur and thus raise the funds needed by UNICEF for the purpose." - AFP

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Mr. Bush, Take a Look at MTV

By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
Published: April 17, 2005
When Turkey was massacring Armenians in 1915, the administration of Woodrow Wilson determinedly looked the other way. The U.S. ambassador in Constantinople sent furious cables to Washington, pleading for action against what he called "race murder," but the White House shrugged.
It was, after all, a messy situation, and there was no easy way to stop the killing. The U.S. was desperate to stay out of World War I and reluctant to poison relations with Turkey.
A generation later, American officials said they were too busy fighting a war to worry about Nazi death camps. In May 1943, the U.S. government rejected suggestions that it bomb Auschwitz, saying that aircraft weren't available.
In the 1970's, the U.S. didn't try to stop the Cambodian genocide. It was a murky situation in a hostile country, and there was no perfect solution. The U.S. was also negotiating the establishment of relations with China, the major backer of the Khmer Rouge, and didn't want to upset that process.
Much the same happened in Bosnia and Rwanda. As Samantha Power chronicles in her superb book, "A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide," the pattern was repeated over and over: a slaughter unfolded in a distant part of the world, but we had other priorities and it was always simplest for the American government to look away.
Now President Bush is writing a new chapter in that history.
Sudan's army and janjaweed militias have spent the last couple of years rampaging in the Darfur region, killing boys and men, gang-raping and then mutilating women, throwing bodies in wells to poison the water and heaving children onto bonfires. Just over a week ago, 350 assailants launched what the U.N. called a "savage" attack on the village of Khor Abeche, "killing, burning and destroying everything in their paths." Once again, there's no good solution. So we've looked away as 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur, with another 10,000 dying every month.
Since I'm of Armenian origin, I've been invited to participate in various 90th-anniversary memorials of the Armenian genocide. But we Armenian-Americans are completely missing the lesson of that genocide if we devote our energies to honoring the dead, instead of trying to save those being killed in Darfur.
Meanwhile, President Bush seems paralyzed in the face of the slaughter. He has done a fine job of providing humanitarian relief, but he has refused to confront Sudan forcefully or raise the issue himself before the world. Incredibly, Mr. Bush managed to get through recent meetings with Vladimir Putin, Jacques Chirac, Tony Blair and the entire NATO leadership without any public mention of Darfur.
There's no perfect solution, but there are steps we can take. Mr. Bush could impose a no-fly zone, provide logistical support to a larger African or U.N. force, send Condoleezza Rice to Darfur to show that it's a priority, consult with Egypt and other allies - and above all speak out forcefully.
One lesson of history is that moral force counts. Sudan has curtailed the rapes and murders whenever international attention increased.
Mr. Bush hasn't even taken a position on the Darfur Accountability Act and other bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senators Jon Corzine and Sam Brownback to put pressure on Sudan. Does Mr. Bush really want to preserve his neutrality on genocide?
Indeed, MTV is raising the issue more openly and powerfully than our White House. (Its mtvU channel is also covering Darfur more aggressively than most TV networks.) It should be a national embarrassment that MTV is more outspoken about genocide than our president.
If the Bush administration has been quiet on Darfur, other countries have been even more passive. Europe, aside from Britain, has been blind. Islamic Relief, the aid group, has done a wonderful job in Darfur, but in general the world's Muslims should be mortified that they haven't helped the Muslim victims in Darfur nearly as much as American Jews have. And China, while screaming about Japanese atrocities 70 years ago, is underwriting Sudan's atrocities in 2005.
On each of my three visits to Darfur, the dispossessed victims showed me immense kindness, guiding me to safe places and offering me water when I was hot and exhausted. They had lost their homes and often their children, and they seemed to have nothing - yet in their compassion to me they showed that they had retained their humanity. So it appalls me that we who have everything can't muster the simple humanity to try to save their lives.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Videocon looks at oil fields in Sudan

Videocon looks at oil fields in Sudan
Sify - India
Saturday, 16 April , 2005, 11:01
Videocon Industries Ltd will spend Rs 800 crore in overseas exploration and production activities over the next two years, said sources. Videocon was in talks to invest in oil fields in Sudan, and was also considering Ukraine -- both rich in energy resources. The company will also spend around Rs 1200 crore in exploration and production in India and after it raises Rs 2000 crore in global depositary receipts, a fund-raising due to be promoted next month. Videocon signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Khartoum province in Sudan last month for investing and developing oil projects there.
The company planned to take a stake of up to 76 per cent in an offshore Sudanese field located in the Red Sea, which it will explore along with a consortium of global partners. The company will visit Ukraine next week to explore its investment potential and it might consider investing in Russia and other countries in the Middle East and Africa. Videocon, which has been in the energy industry for 12 years, plans to step up investment, given the demand for oil. Dhoot estimates Indian oil demand will grow 12 per cent this year. The company plans to bid for 20 blocks offered by the government under the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP).
The Videocon group, which also makes TVs and home appliances, already owns 25 per cent of the Raava oil field, located in the Krishna-Godavari basin off India's eastern shore, which produces 50,000 barrels of oil a day that is sold to Indian oil companies. Energy-hungry India, which imports 70 per cent of its oil and barely produces the gas it consumes, has been encouraging companies to chase up energy ventures. State-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp Ltd, India's largest oil producer, is already active in Sudan with equity stakes in some projects

Saturday, April 09, 2005

UN Rights Expert Accuses Sudan of War Crimes in Darfur

PolitInfo.com - Baden-Baden,Germany
Apr 9, 2005 Geneva
A United Nations human rights expert is calling on the international community to step up its pressure on the Sudanese government to stop, what he calls, the systematic rape of women and other abuses against civilian victims of the war in Darfur. The expert has submitted his report to the UN Human Rights Commission which is holding its annual session in Geneva.The Independent Expert, Emmanuel Akwei Addo, calls the Sudanese government's response to the insurrection in Darfur ruthless and disproportionate. He accuses the government and its proxy fighters, the Arab militia, known as the Janjaweed, of waging a systematic campaign against the unarmed civilian population.He says this has resulted in an estimated 300,000 civilian deaths, in a million people becoming homeless and more than 200,000 others fleeing to neighboring Chad in search of asylum."Because of its tendency to produce indiscriminate and massive destruction, counterinsurgency warfare carried on with high technology weaponry that was unleashed by the Government of Sudan on its own citizens is inherently intolerable and repulsive," he said.The independent expert says the Darfur peace process is in jeopardy. He notes the rebels walked out of talks in Abuja, Nigeria in protest against two weeks of an onslaught by the Sudanese government. He says the situation in Darfur seems to be deteriorating sharply.Mr. Addo says there are strong indications that war crimes have been committed in Darfur. These include murder, torture, rape and intentional attacks against civilians and civilian objects."I consider also that crimes against humanity have been committed in Darfur. They include forcible displacement and rape committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against the civilian population. There are strong indications of these crimes having been committed in Darfur by the Janjaweed," he said.Mr. Addo says the perpetrators of these crimes must be brought to justice. He notes Sudan for the first time has arrested military and security officials accused of rape, killing and burning villages in Darfur. He says a government committee reportedly has arrested 15 people in Darfur for human rights abuses and intends to send them to the International Criminal Court. He calls this a step in the right direction.Sudan's response to the report has been generally conciliatory. A Sudanese Representative says his government will work closely with the U.N. Commission and with its partners in the comprehensive peace agreement. He says his government will work to protect and promote human rights in the entire country.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Eastern Sudan rebels prepare for war with show of force

Saturday April 2nd, 2005 10:11.
Sudan Tribune - Sudan
NEAR TELKOK, Sudan, April 2 (AFP) -- A bewitching Arabic tune wafts through tents scattered around the desert plain here in rebel-held eastern Sudan when the mood shifts suddenly with the arrival of the fighters.

Supporters of rebels from Sudan's Eastern Front parade during a conference held by the Front north of Kassala town, near the Eritrean border on Friday April 1, 2005. The rebels denounced marginalization of their region by Khartoum and say they are ready to resume fighting.(AFP) .
Three battered lorries and dozens of dirty pick-up trucks career across the sand and dirt, their screeching brakes failing to drown out the noisy cheers of the hundreds of poorly clad but well-armed rebel soldiers they carry.
Waving AK-47 assault rifles, the fighters, many with fuzzy Afros and many appearing quite young, vow to fight for their cause: ending what they say is the marginalization of eastern Sudan at the hands of Khartoum.
"These are only a small sample of our army," smiles Salah Barqueen, a leader of the Beja Congress, one of two groups that recently formed the Eastern Front to fight for people's rights in Sudan's eastern Red Sea and Kassala states.
Like their counterparts in more the well-publicized conflict in Sudan's troubled western Darfur region, the ethnic minority Eastern Front complain they are being ignored by the Arab-dominated regime in Khartoum.
"Our region lacks hospitals, schools, water, transport systems, everything," says the front's newly-elected president, Musa Mohamed Ahmed.
"If the government is ready to solve the problem peacefully, we are also ready," he told AFP here at a rebel base north of Kassala near the Eritrean border where the Eastern Front gathered this week to plot strategy.
"If they are not, we are also ready," said Ahmed, who clad in a dark-green combat uniform seems to be readying himself to command troops.
The Beja Congress and their colleagues in the Eastern Front, the Free Lions, are both descendents of Arab immigrants to Sudan: the Beja centuries ago and Rashaidas in the 19th century.
Angered by what they say is a radically unequal distribution of Sudan's wealth from natural resources like oil, the Eastern Front rebels took up arms against Khartoum like those in Darfur and southern Sudan before them.
But with international attention focused squarely on Darfur and this year's landmark peace deal between Khartoum and the southern Sudan People's Liberation Army, the Eastern Front has languished in relative obscurity.
In late January, though, their cause made headlines when at least 14 and as many as 36 Beja Congress supporters were killed by Sudanese security forces breaking up a demonstration in the eastern city of Port Sudan.
In the aftermath of the violence, Khartoum pledged to hold talks with the rebels but that offer has been met with widespread skepticism here where the front's leaders were considering their next steps.
"I don't think the government is genuine when it mentions peace talks," Ahmed says, echoing earlier rebel demands those responsible for the Port Sudan violence must be tried by an international court if discussions are to be held.
Without justice, the front leadership says there will be no talks and no peace for Khartoum and maintains that its firepower will be enough to defend itself from the government army and proxy militia.
And top officials and fighters are steeling themselves for conflict wider that the sporadic clashes that have been the norm in recent years.
"Without force we won't be able to recover our rights," says new rebel army recruit Suleiman Saleh.
Saleh, who appears older than his stated age of 15, was one of dozens of new recruits the Eastern Front congress was partly called to drum up.
Children younger than 10 who volunteered were rejected for their age but their enthusiasm was energetically cheered by a crowd of 2,000 to 3,000 people who gathered in the cool desert twilight to witness an initiation ceremony.
Every so often, a lone voice would call out a victory cry which the assembled crowd would roar back several times.
After dusk fell and numerous officials delivered their speeches, a concert was held and in front of a large stage, old men with swords and young AK-47 toting rebels danced late into the night, singing that victory was at hand.

Football Sudan style

By Nyambura Wambugu BBC Sport
A Sudanese schoolboy dons a David Beckham shirt ready for a match
Every Sunday afternoon at around 4 o'clock the village of Narus in southern Sudan becomes gripped with football fever.
But unlike most of the rest of Africa the excitement does not surround a local league game or even an English premiership match on the TV.
Instead the villagers are gather at the local football field to watch a match between Comboni school and St Bakita school.
The Sunday clash has become a ritual and a must-see event for both the young and the old.
In this part of the world, there is no electricity, radio or any form of modern technology to keep the locals busy.
So the Sunday football match is the only form of entertainment and emotional release for locals.
The boys take to the dusty field to wild cheers, the players do not have matching kits instead they wear various jerseys from different clubs and countries from around the world.
And even the ball, that at first glance seems like a normal football, is not quite what it seems and is homemade from a balloon wrapped in surgical bandage.

The Sudanese villagers have to use a homemade ball
Despite the improvised ball, the hot, dry and dusty conditions for the next 90 minutes the bare-foot boys show case their talent, skills and energy.
When the final whistle blows each week the winners go away to bask in a week of glory while the losers are left with one option: to wait until next Sunday.
But what motivates the boys?
"I watched the World Cup while I was at the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya in 2002 and I liked the game very much," says 17 year old Simon Rachu.
"When I came back to the Sudan, I came to school and found boys who were also in the camp and we all talked of football and a teacher helped us start a team."
For these boys football is their only diversion from the everyday realities of living in a civil war.
19-year-old Surach Mohammed tells me of his dreams of playing outside Sudan and even maybe at the World Cup.
He has such dreams despite never having seen another football match apart from the weekly game he takes part in.
With the 21 year old Sudanese conflict seemingly coming to an end the boys have high hopes that sports will soon take root in a country where it has taken the back seat in recent years.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

UN Council Refers Darfur Crimes to Hague Tribunal


By Evelyn Leopold
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council on Thursday voted to refer war crimes cases in Sudan's Darfur region to the International Criminal Court after Washington, which opposes the tribunal, decided to abstain rather than veto the resolution.

The vote was 11-0 with four abstentions. The resolution marked the first time the Security Council referred a case to the Hague-based court, set up to try suspected perpetrators of genocide, war crimes and mass human rights abuses.
The Bush administration, which argues that Americans could be targets of politically motivated prosecutions, had threatened to veto the measure.
But council members made last-minute concessions in the text, including guarantees that would bar the ICC or courts from any other country from prosecuting a U.S. citizen or one from any other nation in Sudan that was not a party to the court.
France, which had drafted the original measure, had misgivings about that language, so Britain took over sponsorship of the resolution.
The United States was in the difficult position of either swallowing its fierce opposition to the ICC or vetoing a resolution that would try people for the pillage, slaughter and rape in Darfur that Washington has itself called genocide.
'FIRM OBJECTIONS'
"We decided not to oppose the resolution because of the need for the international community to work together to end the climate of impunity in Darfur," said the acting U.S. ambassador, Anne Patterson.
But she told the council, "We have not dropped and indeed continue to maintain our long-standing and firm objections and concerns regarding the ICC."
The 11 votes in favor of the resolution came from France, Britain, Greece, Denmark, Tanzania, Benin, Argentina and Romania, which have ratified the court's treaty, as well as Russia, Japan and the Philippines.
The four abstentions came from the United States, China, Algeria as well as Brazil, which is a strong supporter of the court but disagreed with expanding exemptions for the United States rather than adhering to ICC statutes.
"From our point of view, this referral should not be approved at any cost," said Brazil's U.N. Ambassador Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg.
Ambassador Lauro Baja of the Philippines, who voted in favor, agreed. He said the resolution had been softened to avert a U.S. veto, thereby preventing "the emission of a strong, robust and clear signal from this august body.
"Perhaps this is the reason why the call for Security Council reforms grows louder as days go on," he said.
China and Algeria said they abstained because they opposed an international, rather than an African solution for Sudan.
The ICC began functioning about a year ago as a long-delayed successor to the Nazi war crimes trials at Nuremberg after World War II. Some 98 countries have ratified the treaty creating the court but the Bush administration rescinded the U.S. signature as a sign of its opposition.
The Security Council can refer a case to the ICC if the country where the crimes took place is unwilling or unable to bring those responsible to justice.

Over the last two years, at least 180,000 people have died from fighting, hunger and disease in Sudan's Darfur region. More than 2 million people, mainly African villagers, have been forced out of their homes by Arab militia.
In January a panel of U.N.-appointed investigators concluded that the ICC was the best place for trials since Sudan had shown little willingness to prosecute suspects. It has drawn up a sealed list of 51 suspects the ICC should investigate.

Assembly vote urges government to condemn Sudan for war

Posted on Thu, Mar. 31, 2005

San Jose Mercury News - USA
SACRAMENTO - Without opposition, the state Assembly Thursday urged the government of Sudan to condemn war crimes being sponsored by its state-run militia.
Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally, D-Compton, said the resolution, which passed 72-0, would "send a message to the Sudanese government to stop the killings in Darfur."
The resolution, authored by Assemblyman Paul Koretz, D-West Hollywood, also requests that Congress and President Bush take "all prudent and necessary steps" to ensure that the "crimes against humanity" are addressed at the highest level of the U.S. government.
The United Nations has described the civil war in Sudan's vast western region as the world's worst humanitarian crisis, and both Congress and the Bush administration have called it genocide. Sudan's Arab-dominated government has attacked rebel groups in the Darfur region, displacing an estimated 1.8 million people, mostly Sudanese of African descent.
The resolution is one of two being considered by the Legislature regarding Sudan.
A vote is still pending on a resolution by Dymally urging California's $300 billion retirement funds for public employees to avoid investing in global companies that do business in Sudan.
If passed, it will make California's Assembly the second nationally to pressure giant state retirement funds to avoid investments that could aid the Sudanese government. The New Jersey Assembly passed such a resolution earlier this year, while backers say similar legislation is pending before the Arizona, Texas and Illinois legislatures.
The resolution is part of a national strategy by the Washington, D.C.-based Sudan Campaign, which aims to imitate the successful 1980s divestment campaign in which pension funds withdrew billions of dollars in investments from South Africa, which was then run by a whites-only government.
The $182.9 billion California Public Employees Retirement Fund, with 1.4 million members, says it has invested in 11 firms that did business in Sudan, but most appear to be very limited. The $125 billion California State Teachers Retirement Fund, with 750,000 members, said it has no direct investments in Sudan, but owns companies through passively managed index funds that do, including Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola Co. and Nestle.
Koretz's resolution now goes to the state Senate for consideration
.

France agrees to postponement Sudan trials vote

Press Trust of India - New Delhi,India
Mar 31, 2005 10:13:00 AM
United Nations, Mar 31 (PTI) France has agreed to postponement of vote in the Security Council of its controversial resolution which calls for trial of those accused for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur in Sudan by the Hague-based International Criminal Court to give time for more consultations, Council diplomats said.The postponement was requested by the United States which, they say, is trying to enlarge the language for exemption of its citizens from the purview of the Court.The United States does not recognize ICC and had originally proposed that a separate tribunal be set up to try such cases. But European are reluctant to pay for another tribunal and the alleged perpetrators of crimes be prosecuted by ICC.The French resolution exempts citizens of the countries taking part in peacekeeping operations from the purview the Court if their State has not ratified the treaty setting up ICC. That would automatically take American citizens out of its purview but diplomats say that the United States would like to widen the language.If the language is not to the liking of Washington, it could either veto or just abstain.Earlier, the Security Council had adopted two American supported resolution imposing travel and asset freeze on those who are found to be committing the crimes and establishing a 10,000 strong peacekeeping operation for monitoring peace accord signed by the government and southern rebels which brought to an end a separate 21-year old conflict. PTI

Sudan rejects 300,000 Darfur death toll

ABC Online

Sudan's ambassador to Britain, Hassan Abdin, has rejected figures that as many as 300,000 people may have died in the western Darfur region.
A British parliamentary committee says around 300,000 people may have died, far higher than previous death tolls.
It also urged the United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions on Darfur and refer war criminals to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
"The world's failure to protect the people of Darfur from the atrocities committed against them by their own government is a scandal," said Tony Baldry, chairman of the cross-party International Development Committee.
It said it based its figure on estimates from UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland.
The World Health Organisation previously estimated that 70,000 people had died from hunger and disease in Darfur between March and October 2004, but with hard figures difficult to get, the toll has been fiercely contested.
Sudan's government admits arming some militias to quell the rebellion but denies links to Arab militias known as Janjaweed who are accused of raping, killing and looting.
"This figure is just really another guesswork. They simply jumped to the conclusion that it must be more than double that without showing how they have come to arrive at this figure. It is statistical anarchy," Hassan Abdin told Britain's Channel Four News.
Rebels took up arms more than two years ago, accusing Khartoum of neglect.
Two million people have fled their homes.
The report was written before a Security Council vote on Tuesday which imposed a travel ban and an asset freeze on those responsible for atrocities against civilians in Darfur or those who violate the ceasefire.
The new resolution also strengthens an arms embargo.
- Reuters

Sudan war crimes prosecution wins US support

Ireland Online - Ireland
31/03/2005 - 07:15:21
France delayed a vote on a resolution that would authorise the prosecution of Sudanese war crimes suspects by the International Criminal Court in hopes of averting a US veto – and the additional time appears to have won over the Americans.Administration officials in Washington said last night that the US was dropping its objections to using the court after concluding that opposition to the US stand was too strong, particularly among Europeans.US President George Bush’s administration had preferred that an African court try alleged perpetrators of war crimes, but the US proposal garnered little support among the 14 other Security Council members.The US faced a dilemma: it wants the perpetrators of atrocities in Sudan’s western Darfur region brought to justice, but it vehemently opposes the International Criminal Court on grounds that Americans could face politically motivated or frivolous prosecutions.An ethnic cleansing campaign in Sudan’s western Darfur region has killed tens of thousands of people and uprooted more than two million.In return for its concession, the US received assurances that Americans deployed in Sudan, in whatever capacity, would not be subject to ICC prosecutions, the officials said. They asked not to be identified because the decision has not been officially announced.The US decision to allow the court to prosecute war crimes perpetrators could raise hackles among conservatives for whom the court is an unaccountable body that cannot be trusted to the right thing.The 97 countries that have ratified the 1998 Rome Treaty establishing the court – including all European Union nations – maintain that there are sufficient safeguards built into the process to prevent unwarranted prosecutions.France agreed to postpone a vote until today after the US said it wanted to amend the draft resolution to ensure that no Americans could be handed over to the court in The Hague, the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal, UN diplomats said.The 15 Security Council nations have been deadlocked for weeks on the issue of holding people accountable in Sudan, and the court’s supporters have demanded a vote on the French resolution.The French draft introduced last week would refer Darfur cases since July 1, 2002 to the International Criminal Court. That was the recommendation of a UN panel that had found crimes against humanity – but not genocide – occurred in the vast western region.In a clear concession to the US, the resolution said citizens of countries that have not ratified the treaty establishing the court will not be subject to prosecution by the court if they take part in activities in Sudan.Diplomats said Washington was concerned that the language wasn’t airtight and therefore proposed the amendments.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Former ambassador calls for U.S. action in Sudan

By Olga Mantilla, For the Daily
March 30, 2005
Donald Steinberg, former U.S. Ambassador to Angola, began his speech in Hutchins Hall last night referring to the humanitarian crimes committed in Rwanda a decade ago when he was former President Clinton’s White House Deputy Secretary of Commerce.
“We heard men were castrated and left to bleed to death. Rape became a weapon of war used to terrorize and traumatize. Every morning, I’d wake up and wonder how many more people were slaughtered as I slept.”
Steinberg’s reflection immediately evoked the gravity of the events that are taking place in Sudan’s western Darfur region today.
“In retrospect, no one can deny that they knew what was going on. Rwanda happened in 100 days. Darfur is that same genocide, in slow motion, and warrants an adequate response from our government,” said Steinberg, who is also the former director of the Joint Policy Council at the Department of State.
In his lecture — which was followed by a letter-writing session — Steinberg stressed the impact an individual can have on Congress and international issues, as well as the international community’s responsibility to act in a unified front to condemn ethnic cleansing and human rights violations around the world.
According to Kathleen Duffy, co-chair of the Student Network on Asylum and Refugee Law, the genocide in Sudan has been largely ignored by the media. “This is an area where we’ve seen alarming lack of awareness,” she said. “We feel responsibility to raise consciousness on campus about this massive humanitarian crisis.”
SNARL co-sponsored the event, along with the Muslim Law Student Association and Students Taking Action Now: Darfur.
Steinberg said more than 300,000 people have died in Sudan and more than 2 million have been forced to leave their homes in Darfur — a situation that the United Nations called the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today.
The conflict between the rebel Sudan Liberation Army on one side, and the Sudanese government and the government-backed Janjaweed militia on the other, has largely been responsible for the killing that has been carried out. The violence has moved several groups on campus to petition Congress in an effort to change the tide of events in Sudan.
Steinberg said that although the humanitarian relief being provided by the international community has been impressive, it is not enough to stabilize the situation in Sudan.
“The U.N. needs to increase the number of American troops in the Sudan from 2,500 to at least 9,000 and extend logistical and organizational support to the African Union in order to begin to turn the situation around in Sudan,” he said.
Among other suggestions for how students can actively work to relieve the crisis in Darfur, Steinberg said writing letters to congressmen is an effective step. “(Working in the White House), when we received 40 letters about an issue, we paid attention to it,” he said.
STAND founder and president Alison Barrall said Steinberg’s speech sparked activism among students. “The goal of this event was to raise awareness about these human rights violations, and I see students writing letters in front of me, and I’m inspired.”