Genocide in Sudan tests our commitment to justice.
September 1, 2004
The basic facts of the genocide that engulfed Rwanda a decade ago are well known (see "Healing Genocide," CT April 2004, p. 76). Hutu militias, soldiers, and ordinary citizens used machetes and guns to slaughter 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus, in what The Atlantic called "the most efficient killing spree of the 20th century." With an average of 8,000 people dying daily, the United States deplorably led an effort to remove U.N. peacekeepers from Rwanda, refused to jam radio broadcasts that incited the mayhem, and would not use the term genocide to describe the carnage, afraid of its obligation to act.
Predictably after the violence, once again we heard the post-World War II cry, "Never again!" In today's world, never is apparently about 10 years.
The ink is barely dry on an administration-brokered peace protocol in Sudan between the Arab, Muslim-led government in the north and Christian and animist rebels in the south. The agreement formally ends a 21-year civil war that has left 2 million people dead. And yet in Sudan's western Darfur region, systematic killing on a massive scale continues. Working hand-in-glove with the government of Sudan, Arab militias called the Janjaweed have put down a nascent rebellion, murdered 30,000 black African Muslims, and raped and abused countless women and children since February 2003. Relief officials estimate that up to 2 million villagers have fled their tribal lands for makeshift camps in Sudan and neighboring Chad. Some 300,000 of them could die over the next few months from malnutrition and disease. Officials estimate 10,000 people are dying each month in Darfur.
Is the response today any better than it was in 1994? So far it is. Secretary of State Colin Powell and U.N. Secretary General ...