Genocide of Sudanese Christians of Little Interest to A Prosperous America
By Alicia Colon
September 12, 2000
``The human rights situation in Sudan is not marketable to the American people.''
-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright-Sept. 15, 1999 (Village Voice April 25, 2000)
Boy, she has us pegged right! We, the people of these United States are much more interested in watching phony survivors in Borneo, than in helping those in real peril in Africa.
It's not as if the story hasn't been thrown at us before. Magazine covers have been dedicated since 1996 to the Sudanese genocide of Black Christians. ``Dateline NBC'' devoted an hour to the horrors of modern day slavery in the Sudan and yet many Americans either have never heard the details or simply tuned it out. I confess that I, too, am guilty as charged of being wrapped up in my own self interests but my eyes have finally been forced open and what I am seeing is catastrophic.
My daughter just returned from the World Youth Day celebration in Rome. Two million young people from around the world braved heat and miles of walking around Rome to hear Pope John Paul II inspire them with the challenge to change the world.
During the catechism sessions before daily Mass, the young pilgrims would share stories of their own struggles and my daughter noted the stark differences between the American struggles and others. Most of our young people were dealing with personal issues such as feelings of inferiority and emptiness. It reminded her of a phrase a Franciscan Friar once used to describe her own troubles- ``worthless suffering.''
It was listening to the real survivor stories from the Sudanese pilgrims who had made tremendous sacrifices to reach Rome, that she came to realize that she and most Americans have never known such monumental suffering . Imagine living an existence in which murder, abduction, rape and torture is a daily occurrence within a community. Over 2 million Africans have been killed, churches, schools and hospitals bombed by their own government. Why?
There is a civil war going on in the Sudan between government Islamic forces in the North and the Christian and other non-Muslims in the south. Charges have been made by the Christians that the Sudanese government is waging genocide against the Southern Sudanese to form a nation of Islamic Arab-Africans. To achieve this, government-armed militias are raiding the villages, killing the men and abducting the women and children. The women are raped and the children are sold into slavery. Are we bored yet? It gets better.
Government aircraft bombed a Catholic grade school killing over 18 Kindergarten children and wounding scores of others. Seems the school was sheltering escaped slaves and was receiving donations from an anti-slavery foundation. Did you read about it in your local paper? It only happened in February of this year. I wonder if Spike Lee who made that acclaimed documentary about the four girls killed in the church bombing during the civil rights era would be interested in making a film about the slain martyrs of the Holy Cross school. Probably not.
I also wonder why Jessie Jackson who was named by Clinton as a special envoy to Africa didn't protest the bombing with as much fervor as he displays against the NYPD. In fact, I don't recall him protesting at all.
When Clinton visited Africa last week, he avoided the Sudan but of course, that's understandable. It was way too crowded because the Chinese government has now dispatched about 10,000 troops to the area and has placed 700,000 troops on standby. (Sunday Telegraph, Aug.30, 2000) Seems that the Southern rebels are getting too close to vital oil supplies and the Chinese government will be aiding the Islamic government in putting an end to the civil war. This means wipeout, folks, for the Christians.
Hillary, if it takes a village to raise a child, what do we do when the village is burned to the ground with the women and children trapped inside their huts?
Why do I get the feeling that I'm talking into thin air and I've lost my audience? Why do I feel like the America who could respond to Live-Aid, Farm-Aid, and all the other celebrity-driven campaigns with generosity, has somehow disappeared. More and more we are becoming like the Chinese government in our insensitivity to human life.
Last week, in the Hubei province, government officials forced a Mrs. Liu to endure an abortion because she was expecting her fourth child, which is a no-no in the over populated China. Unfortunately, the saline solution procedure failed and the baby was born alive and healthy. The officials told Mr. Liu that he would have to kill his son but he refused and left the baby in the hospital. A doctor tended to the child and gave it the necessary vaccinations and delivered the child back to his parents in the country. When he arrived at the farm, five officials were waiting who seized the child and drowned it in front of his parents' eyes.
I read this report on the Internet where a British wire report filed the story. So far, I haven't read about it in the mainstream media because it's been decided that the story would not interest us. What's far more important are those Survivor souvenirs being sold on Ebay.
Am I being too cynical in believing that we are only interested in our economy rather than the wholesale slaughter of human beings? Maybe we just don't know what to do and if that's the case, here are a few suggestions.
Do not bother to write to the White House and especially to Al Gore. There may be a conflict of interest. You see, in 1997, Clinton pulled some strings that allowed Occidental Petroleum, a big DNC donor, to drill in the Sudan. (UPI Jan. 23, 1997) All other U.S. oil companies had voluntarily refused to do so and it was only through pressure from rights activists that Occidental eventually pulled out. Gore still receives about royalties from a company that put profits ahead of human rights.
- Write your Representative, your senator, Mayor Rudy Guiliani (because New York City invests in a company Talisman Energy that supplies the fuel for the Sudanese bombings).
- Write to UNICEF and demand to know what they're doing to help the Sudanese children
- Contact The American Anti-Slavery Group at 1-800-884-0719 and ask for an information kit or send them a donation at 198 Tremont St. #421 Boston, Ma. 02116
- Visit www.anti-slavery.org for a full background of the story and to read past articles. This site also has copies of petitions to send to government officials and to the United Nations.
But this is not about politics. It's about life and death. I know that many of my readers are caring and generous individuals. I beg you, please get involved in any way you can. Spread the word. Prove Ms. Albright wrong.
Alicia's column archives can be found at www.aliciacolon.com
Copyright 2000 by Alicia Colon. Not to be reproduced in any fashion, in whole or in part, without written consent from the author. All rights reserved.