Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Silence of Bystanders: NY Times Op-Ed Page Asks Why Apathy Continues on Darfur Genocide

Nicholas Kristof, who has become the most vocal member of the media to report on Darfur, wants to know why the world has remained silent on the continuing genocide which has now spilled across the border from Sudan into Chad. In his Sunday New York Times column, “The Silence of Bystanders,” Kristof uses an Elie Wiesel quote about genocide: “Let us remember: what hurts the victim most is not the cruelty of the oppressor but the silence of the bystander.”
Kristof continues:
“In Darfur, we have even less excuse than in past genocides. We have known about this for more than two years, we have photos and eyewitnesses, our president has even described it as genocide, and yet we're still paralyzed. Part of the problem is that President Bush hasn't made it a top priority, but at least he is now showing signs of stirring — and in fact he's done more than most other world leaders, and more than many Democrats. Our failure in Darfur is utterly bipartisan.”

Kristof proposes the establishment of a no-fly zone, a peace initiative supported by regional sheiks, a well-equipped U.N. peacekeeping force, a pledge by France to use its troops in Chad to stop an invasion from Sudan, and strong voices from Arab leaders like Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak condemning the genocide.

“With those measures,” Kristof writes, “Darfur might again be a place where children play, rather than one in which they are thrown into bonfires.”

A related piece in today’s New York Times op-ed page, “Spreading Genocide to Chad,” echoes Kristof’s dismay at the “pitifully inadequate” reaction of the world “when it comes to standing up to stop the slaughter of entire peoples.”

The Times aims criticism at the United Nations, which, according to the piece, “has described the carnage in Darfur as the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis but continues to prove itself completely useless at doing anything to stop it,” along with China, for protecting Sudan in the Security Council, and Europe, for being “inert.”

Credit is given to Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick for working to get the UN to supplement or replace the African Union peacekeeping force.

These pieces, combined with Kristof’s long-running series of editorials on Darfur, underline the need for a strong, multi-national coalition to stop genocide there.

To learn more about this critical human rights issue, visit savedarfur.org, an alliance of 100 organizations working to end the crisis in Darfur. Save Darfur.org will hold a Rally to Stop Genocide in Washington, DC on April 30


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