Death and Indifference in Darfurrecording...
Transcription by Alice Swanson '07 · Full speech and Q & A.
DEATH AND INDIFFERENCE IN DARFUR
My name is Brian Stout, first of all, and I'd just like to start by telling you a little bit about why we decided to put this together today. Then I'll turn the floor over to Eric Reeves and Mohamed Yahya, in turn. Last summer I did a program with humanity in action in Demark, which is a human rights fellowship program, and out of that came, first of all, my interest in what I'm doing now, which is working for a human rights organization in Boston. And secondarily, as part of that, I'm going to do an outreach project, both informing people about humanity in action and also trying to do something substantive in the world of human rights. So briefly, this is the title of our program today, should be running an hour or so. And for our sponsors, I'd like to thank Kate very much with the Amherst College Democrats. And Tony Marx, who couldn't be here today, also lent his generous support through the president's office. Dean Haynes and Dean Lieber also came through big.
So basically, humanity in action is a group where we try to take examples of historical resistance, particularly focused on minority rights, the holocaust being obviously the most prominent example, also looking at Rwanda and the Armenian genocide, a little farther back, and trying to figure out first, what we can learn from the past, and unfortunately in the current context, how we can apply that knowledge to the present. We've been less successful in that endeavor. Basically it's college students: sophomores, juniors, and seniors. It's a summer program, all expenses paid, basically a trip to Europe to study human rights in an intensive sort of 10 on 10 environment where there are 40 American students, 10 go to each country: Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, and France. First of all, the program pays for everything, and we do that through a lot of lectures, and seminars, and we get a lot of big speakers. We spoke with some of the biggest names in Danish politics; guys who'd be on par with Condoleezza Rice or Colin Powell were coming to speak to 20 college kids, which is pretty impressive. This is the format: a lot of lectures, going to different sites to get hands on experience. We heard from some survivors of the holocaust in their own words, which is always pretty powerful. And, the idea being humanity in action, the first being it's sort of easy to look beyond yourself now and then, but actually taking the impetus to do something about it, particularly as we see with Darfur, there can always be a huge gap between knowledge and action. Our goal is to bridge that gap by using knowledge as a burden to act. The more you know, the more you're obligated to do something about that knowledge.
So, this is sort of my outreach program. I'm trying to get more people involved in Darfur. I trust that most of you here are coming out of a genuine interest and that you are going to know most of what's up. Mohamed will speak to his personal experience, and I think that will speak for itself. Eric has been the preeminent scholar on the Darfur region for the last six years. He's a professor at Smith College who has devoted his life recently just to focus on Darfur. His scholarly articles have been published at an astonishing rate. Every week he's got another piece about the latest developments, and he is considered, like I said, the foremost scholar on Darfur. so it is a pleasure and a privilege to have him here today. So, that said, I will turn the floor over to Eric, he will speak a little bit about what exactly is going on in Darfur, for those who are not familiar with it, he's familiar with the statistics because he compiles them. So, without further ado, Eric Reeves.
Our distinguished speaker this afternoon, Mohamed Adam Yahya, leads the Damanga Coalition for Freedom and Democracy, formerly the Massaleit community in exile. Mr. Yahya’s experiences in Darfur, and those of his family, represent all too fully the genocidal horrors that are, this very day, continuing in the far west of Sudan. Certainly in recent years, no group in Darfur has suffered more outrageously, has been more systematically targeted, than the Massaleit people.
In 1993, Mr. Yahya's village in far western Darfur, near Al Janeina, the capital of Dar Massaleit, or homeland of the Massaleit, saw some of the first attacks of the Khartoum regime’s Arab militial raiders, which have come to be known as the Janjaweed. Mr. Yahya's village was completely destroyed and most of his relatives, along with other villagers, were killed, raped, or burned alive in their huts. These very same tactics have, since the outbreak of full-scale hostilities in February of 2003, claimed as many as 400,000 lives. This is my own estimate, although their was a study released just today which confirms this figure on the basis of much of the data I've been using, as well as other data. Over 2 million people, I would estimate 2 and a half million people, have been displaced, either within Darfur, or into neighboring Chad. And 3 million people, perhaps soon to be 4 million people, are conflict affected. Many, many will die. Indeed, hundreds of thousands will die. For the violence that targets Mr. Yahya's Massaleit people also targets other non-Arab or African tribal populations in Darfur. There's the Zaghawa, the [Perge?], the Fur, and others. Violence has also been used to destroy the agricultural economy of Darfur, and engineered famine looms ever closer, with the potential to destroy additional hundreds of thousands of lives.
In 1993, Mr. Yahya was studying at the al-Azhar university in Cairo when his village was destroyed. And though he received word from his parents of their safety, it was at this moment that he realized action needed to be taken to save Darfur's African peoples from annihilation at the hands of the Arab militias, and the National Islamic Front Regime in Khartoum. Mr. Yahya's is one of the most powerful in the Darfurian Diaspora, and we are fortunate to have him among us to offer an all-to-well informed account of the 21st century's first great episode in genocidal destruction, destruction that may eventually surpass that of Rwanda in 1994. It is an honor to introduce Mohamed Yahya to you. 7:15
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to be here with you today. It is my honor to be presented by one of the most great writers about the issue of Darfur in this time, Dr. Eric Reeves.
Ladies and gentlemen, all of you know, or maybe some of you know, about what's going on right now in Darfur of Western Sudan. Darfur, of Western Sudan, is one of the largest states in Sudan itself. And Sudan is one of the largest countries all over the continent of Africa. We have been ruled by the government, if we can say government, it is a regime. A fundamentalist, Islamic regime. It is the National Islamic Front, lead by Omar Hassan al-Bashir and his colleagues. Those people came to power in Sudan since June, 1989, up to now, by coup. For in that time began a big campaign to kill the black Africans in the south of Sudan, and right now in Darfur, and even in the Nuba Mountains.
You have to know, ladies and gentlemen, Sudan is the name in Arabic, Sudan means black. That means the country of Sudan is a black country. And Arabs came to Sudan about 750 years ago to spread Islam in Sudan and North Africa. They came through the East of Sudan, crossed the Red Sea, through Port Sudan right now, and some of them came through the North of Sudan through Egypt. As we know, every one of us welcomed his guest. They didn't even ask where he came from or what he wanted. Our people hosted them, welcomed them as guests and shared with them the land and even our women because none of them came with his woman. We gave them cows to drink milk, we gave them donkeys to ride, as transportation, and camels and horses because they didn't have those things, and at that time we don't have any caste [?]. But we don't know that they came with a plan. It is not the case of an accident, it is not just the case of Islam, it is another case. That case which is revealing [word inaudible] it right now.
When we are talking about Darfur, we have to talk in brief, before that, about the South of Sudan, because the war started in South of Sudan before Darfur. That is, since 1955, even before the independence of Sudan from the colonial British, in 1 January 1956, that is the time of independence of Sudan from its colonizer. From that time, Sudan ruled by arms, up to now. But the west group, from those people ruling the country, this recent government, the National Islamic Front. When they came to power, the first thing they started with is to try to Islamize the people of South of Sudan, because most of them are black Africans, Christian, and those people refused. They tried to Arabanize them, they tried to get them to Islam by force, they tried to destroy their culture, they tried to eliminate them for those such reasons. Over that, we know very well that all the parts of Sudan, in South or in West or in East, there are very poor people and there are very marginalized people who don't have any development in each side of the country of Sudan. Just all of the development is in the North part of Sudan because that's they place of Arabs, and in the center of Sudan in Khartoum and Madani and Jazeera because some of the Arabs are living in these areas, those who are ruling Sudan up to now.
Ladies and gentlemen, over two million and a half Sudanese people have been killed in the war of the South of Sudan. The war has not started just in 1983 as they mention in the media. No, the war has started since 1955; it is even before you were born and before I was born. It's 50 years of war, that's why the people say it is the longest war in the largest country all over the continent of Africa. The government of Sudan in that time they raised the issue of Islam, as I said, and the issue of Arabs, to recruit their neighborhood, their [word incomprehensible], from other countries to support them because they're facing a danger of Christianity, of Christianity in south of Sudan, who are black and they're trying to kill all the Arabs, and they don't like Arabs, they don't like Islam, and they hate. So you Arab countries, you have to support us, to get rid of those people first. This is one of the policies that's why the war take a long time in the south of Sudan. Right now, you know what's happened-- the peace took place in the south part of Sudan because of initiatives from unites states, from United Nations, from some part of the world. They forced the Sudan regime to sit to negotiate, to make peace with the south of Sudan regime, the SPLMA, Sudanese People's Liberation Army, Sudanese People's Liberation Movement, commanded by Dr. John Garang [word incomprehensible]. Government of Sudan forced to make the peace, forced to negotiate, forced to accept the peace because they don't like the peace to take place in Sudan. They're very interested to eliminate the people of Sudan, either they're Christians, or either they're Muslims.
When the peace took place right now in south of Sudan, the government of Sudan switches the war to Darfur, to my area, which is inhabited by the same black Africans, but they are Muslims. The citizens mentioned by Dr. Eric Reeves, Massaleit, my people, Fur, Dago, Zaghawa, Tama, Gimir[?], Birked[?], and whatsoever. Those black Africans in Western of Darfur, Sudan, the area, it is over 193 square miles [sic]. As I said, it is bigger than even the location as France twice or three times.
The question here: why, right now, the government of Sudan switches the war from the south of Sudan against the Christians, non-Muslims, blacks, and [word inaudible] to western of Sudan, Darfur, against the black Africans, Muslims, in the same religion with the government of Sudan, the National Islamic Front. And they use those people of west of Sudan, Darfur, my people, by the name of Islam against their brothers in south of Sudan for all that time since 1995, 1955, up to today. They use them by the name of Islam: “You have to fight against the Christians, against the infidels, because those infidels in south of Sudan, they hate Islam, they hate the Arabs, and they hate you as Muslims, and you have no choice, you have to fight with us to get rid of those first and then we have to rule our country as the Muslims.” And they fooled them and they used them. My father was one of those taken to south of Sudan to kill others. And what happened when they killed over two million and a half Sudanese in south of Sudan right now, they turn back to kill the same people who they used to kill the others in south of Sudan. What does this mean? This is not meant religion, it is not an issue of religion, this is something else, this is racism, this is the policy of divide and rule, this is a policy of segregation, this is a policy of discrimination; to use you to kill your brother and then turn to kill you. so finally, to get Sudan to Arabs, and to rule Sudan by Arabs, and turn it to the Arab's country, and even change the Sudan to the name of Arabs.
We know very well what exactly the conspiracy, what exactly the religion, what exactly the tactic, what exactly the policy of the government of Sudan. It is a very wide policy. It is not just suited for Sudanese or for Darfurians, or for south of Sudan people. It is larger than that. Do you have any idea this government of Sudan hosted one of the top terrorist figures for 5 years in Sudan. That was Osama bin Laden, the guy who organized attack of United States, New York, September 11th. He had been in Sudan for 5 years, and they expelled him out by the pressure of the United States and by the pressure of the world, who are fighting the terror, fighting the terrorists. And Sudan, it has been forced to send Osama bin laden to Afghanistan. In the time when Osama bin laden was hosted in Sudan, he was training so many people of his loyalists. He supported the government of Sudan by finance. He built companies, and he did a lot of investing in wares[?] inside Sudan, and still those things remain over there in Sudan. The government of Sudan hosted Carlos, one of the top terrorists. His nationality is France, for 7 years in Sudan [word incomprensible], training the security, training the figures of terrorists inside Sudan. And they use them to attack so many embassies outside of Sudan against United States, against others. And one of the examples is president Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, he was attacked in ethiopia when he visited in the time of 1991 by the figures of those terrorist links of the government of Sudan, and they caught some of the Sudanese who fought in that attack. I want to say that the history of the terrorists in Sudan, it is a long history, and I am wondering why this regime still remain ruling, killing, targeting, eliminating, displacing, the people of Sudan up to now without any kind of action taken to stop this genocide.
The government of the United States identified this as genocide since September last year. The United Nations finally identified what's going on as genocide. The US Holocaust memorial museum identified that, so many organizations identified that. And one of them, one of the most famous individuals who identified that, first of all, is Mr. Eric Reeves. You know well that things happen in Sudan or everywhere are called genocide, people are supposed to act. The United Nations has the responsibility to act, the United States has the responsibility to act, the world has the responsibility to act as moral, as commitment, as human beings to protect those human beings who have been targeted, who have been killed, and raped, and displaced out of the border of Sudan. We have nearly 1/2 million refugees in Chad only right now. It is since 1991 up to now. Every day, the amount exceeds. We have over a million refugees scattered around the world; I am one of them.
I don't want to say I am lucky to be here, because I have to be there. But I was exiled. I was forced to be exiled when I started writing and I founded an organization called the Representatives of the Massaleit Community in Exile, before [word incomprehensible] changed it to Damanga Coalition for Freedom and Democracy recently, a couple months ago. I founded this organization, ladies and gentlemen, when I was a student like you, in Egypt. I founded it with some of my friends, and we started to work hard to do something because we got the news that most of our area destroyed, most of our people killed. I don't even, up to now, the first time I heard "yes, my parents are alive", but from that time up to now I have about 10 years I don't know where are they. I only know one of my sisters, the junior sister of my age, she was raped, and after that I don't know anything about her.
Ladies and gentlemen, the issue is not my family, the issue is all of the families over there. My commitment is to seek any way to protect my people. I founded this organization to work, to do something to protect them, and we made so many reports, that's why we were the first group to sound a bell of alarm to alert the international community about the crisis, about the genocide in Sudan, in Darfur, even I don't know the meaning of genocide in that time. When you go to the website, our website, massaleit.info, you get our first issue, the background about the open letter of the hidden slaughters and ethnic cleansing in western Sudan. Ladies and gentlemen, in that time even, I don't have any access to internet, I don't know English very well, I wrote the topics in Arabic. and I got some of my friends like you to translate it for me and until I got some of knowledge I did it myself, and gave it to people like Eric Reeves to edit.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is a history, but the most frustrating thing, the most painful thing, we're working over at the cape for fifteen years old up to now. But we didn't get any help. We didn't get any serious action to be taken to stop this genocide. And the people get killed every day, in this time I am talking to you my people get killed. And so many organizations estimated the killings is over 10,000 per week. That means over 40,000 get killed every month, and nobody moves. Nobody gets in action. In the state of United States, United Nations, all the world to stand and to stop that doesn't take any time. I know the United States could do it, unless they get involved in Iraq, and so many of the troops get killed in Iraq. And this is very disappointing for most of the family and for most of you. And this is one of the reasons that they don't want to get involved again in Darfur. I understand this. But what about the United Nations? Is it not the responsibility of the United Nations to protect my people? Is it not the responsibility of the world, of Europeans, to protect my people?
They send A.U., the African Union, just because they didn't want to do it. They send it, they know it is not adequate, they know they don't have any logistics, they know they don't have any kind of power to stop what's going on. And they send only 1,000 or 2,000 troops from the African Union, and they just go to the place, the devastated areas, to the burned villages, after two or three days they go and just make reports. That's all they do. Is this the way to protect the people? Is this the way to stop the genocide? In addition to that, Obasanjo, the president of Nigeria, he's the leader of A.U. right now. What he say? He said, "Oh, Darfur, right now it looks much better than before." What disreputable presumption is this? Is this kind of supporting the government of Sudan? A kind of gift to the International Community, a kind of good job done by his leadership in his role of Darfur. It is not fair.
That's why I want to tell you something. I just get very frustrated. I know the only people who could do something to support my people, and could play a major role to stop what is going on inside Darfur right now, are you as students. I believe the students they have an ability, they have a power, they have a motivation, they have a great concern, they have great feelings, they have a conscience. I feel that from your invitation, I feel that from your awareness. You raise the concerns of the people of Darfur. I give more than 10 or 20 speakings around the United States. Most of those who I met have been students. Most of those who were very powerful have been students. I believe if they had a way they would go to Darfur to stop what is happening there, but unfortunately they don't have that kind of logistics to do something like that. But, we still have a way to do something. I need-- and this is not my message, it is a message from the people, who have been very disappointed. I want to convey this message for you: you have so many ways to do something to hurt what is going on in my area. I know you don't have so much time, you have your semesters, you have your exams, and you're making time to raise awareness to help my people. I want to ask you one more. Please, go to make demonstrations in front of the United Nations, in front of the White House, in front of the Bush Administration. Make complaints in your universities, in your colleges. I don't want to tell you to write: you can write. I know most of you sent so many letters, so many telephone calls to your senators, but no one cares. We failed to get the support from the United Nations. I know there was a resolution recently, and so many lost resolutions, but they didn't do anything to help whatsoever. We have a bill of senators recently, which is very encouraging bill, including so many amendments, to apply sanctions against the government of Sudan, against the diplomatic envoy, against assets[?], against their families, against the leaders. And this is one of the very important things, if it happens, but that is also not enough.
I ask and I say this at many times, at many places: we need military intervention to get into Darfur to stop what's going on. It's not enough 10,000, it's not enough 20,000, we need 40,000 of troops to get into Sudan to get intervention over there to Darfur to stop what's going on. I believe whenever those troops get into Darfur, the government of Sudan couldn't do anything, the Janjaweed couldn't do anything. They all give up, I believe that. No more troops get killed. The aid workers get threatened, get killed, get attacked. And the only thing they do, they send shelters, they send money, they send food for those people. You know what is going on over there? When they get them food they are targeted by the Janjaweed to get their food. The food becomes a reason to target the people. How can we provide them food and they have not any security? Those people need security. We have to secure them first, and give them food. But you don't have to give them food when the food will cause them to get killed, and that's what's happening right now. You know, aid workers right now, over there, because they're threatened by the Janjaweed, they are threatened by the government, and they left to Khartoum, they left to outside. And still, the United States, the United Nations, Europeans, stand idle. They suggested recently, United Nations, United States, Europeans, U.K., to send more troops from A.U. Double troops. We have 2,000 over there, we have to send more 2,000. What is that mess? You send 2,000 more, what do you have to do by 2,000 more or 4,000 or 10,000 more A.U. troops-- inactive troops. They didn't do anything over there. Just people turning around. They don't want to do anything.
We said never Rwanda, it is Darfur again. We said never Holocaust, it is Holocaust again. We didn't get educated. I don't know what to say. I lost my home. Imagine if you don't have a place to go. Imagine if you don't have a family. You don't know where's your family, they leave all the time. You don't know where's your [portion inaudible]. You don't know where's your relatives. I am living with you here, but my heart is not here. Living, I feel very good when I be in front of you, or in front of students. I feel that you are my family, you are my people, you are my friends. But when I go back, I feel very lonely, and the most painful thing for me is when I feel all this world. How many millions of people in this world? I have so many people I know who have a conscience. But those who have a conscience, they don't have power. And those who have power, they don't have a conscience. It is so painful, it is so frustrating, when you get your people killed every minute and you didn't get any way to help them. I will never forget those who have been raped. Systematically raped, every day. Kids of 5 years old get raped. Whole school raped in the mid of day, in Tawila, in the center of the town of Tawila. In Habila, in Mornan[?], in Zaninje[?]. They get raped-- 5 years old! Who could believe that! It is human beings who doing this? Even animals couldn't dare to do this. And raped all the teachers. And killed those who are come to prevent them, parents or brothers or sisters or whatever. And all these things well documented, and very well known, and unfortunately no one try to do anything.
I don't know what the reason. I'm not talking about the reason. Maybe you know the reason. But this is not the issue.
Ladies and gentlemen, up to now, the latest news I get, the latest news I get, "Mohamed you are in United States. You have so many people of the United States. Do you meet with president of United States? Do you meet with Bush? Do you meet with Ronald Reagan? Do you meet with Bill Clinton? Do you meet with Jimmy Carter? Do you believe those questions? My people as those questions. Why those people Mohamed they don't want to look at us? Why George Bush, he didn't take any action to stop this genocide? We believe in those people, Mohamed, we love Americans, we love those people, and we believe they are going to protect us. You have to go to them. We know maybe you didn't go to them. Those people, Mohamed, they are going to help us, because we know the late president Ronald Reagan sent us aid, and we are very greatful when we used the aid in the famine of 1980." It has saved the life of all Darfurians.
That is why one of the people, riding his camels and moving in the area before the conflict of Darfur and in the time of president Numeri in Sudan, and people, yourselves, treat us like you, to make a campaign to get people to vote to re-elect president Numeri again. And they ask one of those riding his camels and walking and running, Hai dan[?], by Arabic: "Hey, come on." And when he came, "you know what" they told him, "we need you to come to elect, to come to vote.
"To vote for what?"
"To vote to elect President Numeri."
He didn't even care about Numeri, he said, "Numeri or Reagan?" You believe that?
They told him, "No, Reagan is not...Reagan is American. We have Numeri here, you have to elect Numeri."
He said one word. "If Reagan with you here, I am going to vote to elect him, to become president of Sudan. Otherwise, I don't want to vote." And he left with his camels.
This kind of my people. Right now they're asking about Bush. When Bush come to protect us? I don't know how to tell them.
I know right now President Bush has reservations. You know what's the reservations. I was very disappointed. Because this is the last thing I think about. Until recently, I believed that the best one who could take initiative to support and stop the genocide in Sudan is George W. Bush. And we are very happy when he get elected again and he won the election. And even my people in Sudan, some of people celebrated because Bush was elected again in the country, president of United States. Right now, we are very disappointed. The reservation, one of those reservations, is to block the referral of those criminals in Sudan who committed the genocide, and the worst humanitarian violations against human beings in this history. They are not going to send them, or to refer them to the I.C.C., International Criminal Court. And this is not fair. From here, we ask you, we ask President Bush, we ask the United Nations, all human beings, to act. To act now, before it was too late.
If you read just Dr. Eric Reeves reports, you feel that he's writing those reports from inside Darfur, not from United States. Why, you know why? Because he feel it. He has a conscience, like you. He writes things that even we couldn't write, we are from the area. It is so beautiful when somebody feels others. He could do the miracles, let us try to do miracles. I believe if we are determined, God may help us to achieve a sustainable peace for those who deserve it. To change this world together; if we work together, we could change the world. We can make it a peaceful. That's why we put the new name to Damanga to Representatives of the Massaleit Community in Exile, Damanga, Damanga Coalition for Freedom and Democracy. Damanga means, in Arabic, we have a common sense, say, as a formal expression, say A Dunia Damanga Dardu Bishesh[?]. That means, "Well, the world is just like Damanga, role play for you." Because it is just like [word inaudible] it may broke and broke the life of the people, and destroy the world.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have so much to say, but I know you have so much things to do, you don't have time. Before I conclude my speech, I ask you for the last time, please, I know you have so many kind of qualifications. And each one of you has an ability to do service things. Please, come together to do something [portion incomprehensible] to stop the genocide against my people. It is over 400,000 died. This is only after the two insurgency groups, the two peoples, GEE Justice Equality Movement and SLA, Sudanese Liberation Army took place in Darfur. They are students like you. They are not vandals. They are not criminals. They are students like you who failed to get their people help. They left universities, they left high schools, they left their studies and they went by guns, five people get one gun, and try to protect their people by themselves. It is not impossible for any one of us to do something regarding this issue. We can do. Please let us to do something before it was too late. Thank you for coming, thank you for your concern. I appreciate it, I will never forget it. Thank you so much.
Thank you, Mohamed, very much. I think at this point we can take some questions from the audience, if you guys have anything in particular you want to ask, either from Mohamed about his experience, or anything pertaining to the international community, or what you guys as college students can do. Just questions, generally, either for Mohamed or Eric. You can feel free to take those now.
Is there any information that there are about a million Darfurian exiles who still live there, that don't live in refugee camps, I guess live worldwide. Is there a centralized movement within the refugee places... [Remainder of question inaudible]
Okay. The refugees who are scattered around the world are almost more than 2[?] million. The [inaudible] those who are inside Sudan. Those who are outside Sudan are looking a little bit luckier than those who are inside Sudan. Those who are inside Sudan, you have to know that the total amount of people of Darfur are 7 million, not 6 million as people say, 7 million. And this is also one of the government's tactics: trying to say 5 million. Government's saying 5 million. Because he don't want to include those who got killed so as not to be accountable in the future. That's why [inaudible] lessened that number. We have about 2 million scattered around the world, most of those 2 million in Chad. Chad accepts about a half million. Here in the United States we have about six or seven thousand. In Australia and Canada, in [inaudible], in Libya, in some of the Arab countries. But some of those they get aid, they get protection, they get, you know, some medical treatment, some financial help from organizations outside these areas and they get settlement to several countries around the world, like United States and [inaudible]. That's why I believe those are luckier, are more fortunate than those inside Darfur.
Those inside Darfur refugees [inaudible] in camps. In camps, even inside the camps, they rape them, they kill them, because those who are guarding the camps are Janjaweed. They are police, Jajaweed, they pulled them to police to guard the people. They are criminal people who killed the people, the government use them to protect the people. I know most of those powerful they know this, but they don't want to do anything. The issue of populace[?] is critical. I hope that answers your question.
Mohamed is also being a little bit modest. The organization that he mentioned that he founded while he was in Egypt was actually designed to help Sudanese political refugees get visas and get asylum in America. So that's what he spent the last 10 or so years doing, was making sure that people who are refugees in Sudan have a chance to get out, so that's one thing a student organization can do.
Is there any possibility of an independent, volunteer army? And is there any possibility of getting the resources for that, because Americans are generally, they want something righteous to fight for. And you're coming out of all these colleges where there are 40,000 kids at UMass alone. If kids understand the situation, and I think students and Americans are willing to help, but there's no outlet for it. There's no army that we can go into to help Darfur. Is there any possibility at all of having the resources to create something like that?
We have so many resources [portion inaudible]. But who is there to use these resources, or who mobilize these resources to use it to protect the people? They're only the United Nations, United States. They're only Europeans. They're only African Union, if we say African Union. Only those concerned organization could do something because they have the power to do something. It is not kind of impossible to stop what's going on in Darfur. It is easier than even what's happening in Iraq. It's easier even than-- I don't want to just say that's [inaudible]. In Rwanda, it is just in a short time, about three months, they killed about 800,000 people. In three months only. And the world, we can say, they don't have much time to stop it, and that's gone. But I can't understand, we have, it is for [portion inaudible]. The issue is not only in 2003, as people say, it is since this government came to the power. Since 1989, the government started this campaign, this slaughter campaign. Now, and I believe that if people interested do something to stop what is going on in Darfur, then [portion inaudible] and it isn't going to cost us so much. In Iraq, [portion inaudible], but that's never going to happen in Darfur.
Is there a solution like, what if you gave the villages in Darfur guns, or what if you gave the African Union guns. And what if...is there something that a limited amount of resources can do. Is there something that we can do to fundraise and have a cost-effective solution? I mean, there has to be a solution to this-- what can we do?
Eric, did you want to talk for a second about the divestment plan?
I'm afraid the problem is urgency. The difficulty in, not only raising moneys-- which is actually being undertaken by some Swarthmore students: a genocide intervention fund has been started by several Swarthmore students and the purpose is to provide non-lethal aid to the African Union, but as Mohamed has suggested, the African Union certainly doesn't have the capacity, doesn't have the logistical or transport capacity, doesn't have the administrative capacity, the African Union is a very new organization. This operation in Darfur is only, is certainly several years too early. We really need to be talking about a military force that presently exists. We're talking either about NATO, or we're talking about a discomforting phrase, a coalition of the willing. But let's be clear about the urgency: Jan Egeland, who is the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, has predicted that if insecurity increases in Darfur and if the amount of trained organizations presently operating are forced to withdraw, that human mortality could rise to 100,000 people every month. 100,000 people dying every month. 400,000, roughly, have died since February, 2003. Many more, if we go further back. We have a tremendous number of people who are vulnerable, and the coming rainy season is going to paralyze movement in many parts of Darfur, especially west Darfur, and there isn't nearly enough pre-positioned food. Aid workers are coming under increasing attacks by the Janjaweed. Khartoum has very clearly indicated it will be attacking International Humanitarian Aid workers, as well as Sudanese aid workers. Unless there's a very immediate, very robust response, then we will be looking at a number, I believe, that will indeed surpass the Rwandan genocide.
So, if the question is in terms of what do we do now, Eric's point is that it's urgent. I think Mohamed's point, well-taken, is that the A.U. is ill-equipped to take in volunteer forces, certainly would be probably difficult to cobble together. What has been successful, at least in Eric's experience, you want to mention briefly the Harvard Divestment Campaign, I don't know how many people here are familiar with that.
There are a great many European and Asian companies that have chosen to do business-as-usual with the Khartoum regime, the National Islamic Front. This seems to me, and has for quite some time, seemed intolerable, morally intolerable, to be doing business with a regime engaged in serial genocide. We look back over the course of the National Islamic Front's rule, beginning in 1989... By the way, when it came to power by military coup in June of 1989, it not only deposed an elected government, perhaps not entirely representative, but elected. It also aborted the most promising chance for peace in Sudan since 1955, and the coup was designed to abort that peace process. This regime continues to enjoy the benefits of business-as-usual by a whole series of European and Asian companies. This, as I say, seems to me and to others, intolerable.
And a number of these companies are particularly prominent. They're not only prominent, but they list on the New York Stock Exchange and they're very likely in a number, a great many, college and university endowments, including Amherst, for example. Well, at the very top of this list of five especially culpable companies is PetroChina, a Chinese oil company set to inherit all the oil assets in southern Sudan of its parent company, or surrogate, China National Petroleum Corporation. So Harvard University two weeks ago did something rather extraordinary. It said, "we will no longer own shares of PetroChina, so long as the Khartoum regime is engaged in genocide in Darfur." Now, there are other companies as well: PetroChina is a special case, but Siemens A.G. of Germany is one of Germany's largest industrial concerns. It is also building the world's largest diesel-powered electrical generator plant just outside Khartoum, benefiting only Khartoum and the immediate environments. Alcatel is a French telecommunications giant; it is building within Khartoum and for the benefit of Khartoum only, an upgraded telecommunications infrastructure. ABB Limited, of Switzerland is upgrading the electrical grid, again, for Khartoum and Khartoum only, not for the rest of this vast country. And Tatneft, a Russian oil company, is investing in oil development in Sudan.
All of these companies have said that despite genocide in Darfur, we will continue to provide essential economic and commercial support for this regime. Well, if these companies start to feel acute pressure in the capital markets, and particularly the American capital markets and the New York Stock Exchange, they become a means for sending a powerful message to Khartoum: "If you persist in genocide, you will begin to lose your economic allies, your commercial support." The Khartoum regime presides over what is arguably the most indebted country in the world on a per capita basis. This is a vulnerable economy. It's insulated from economic pressures by virtue of oil revenues, and a willingness of, again, there is no American investment there because U.S. comprehensive economic and trade sanctions prevented that. But European and Asian companies have certainly made it possible for this regime to survive. That is something that a divestment campaign can stop. I would urge you to find out whether Amherst's investments are in companies like Siemens, PetroChina, Alcatel, Tatneft, and ABB Limited.
Well, I was wondering myself-- I don't know how many of you guys all follow the Terri Schiavo thing and all that good stuff-- but it occurred to me, I wonder how effective it would be in terms of motivating some of the apathetic populace if we had more pictures or more some sort of visual media of what is going on in Darfur. I don't know if Eric can speak from a more academic perspective than Mohamed in terms of what you feel it would take to motivate, as you said, the generous spirits of the American people. If we can, you know, hold rallies on a day's notice for a woman who's been, you know, virtually dead for 10 years, I wonder what sort of visual media might be employed to bestir the souls for people who are dying by the thousands.
I would like to speak about pictures and the rest of the question may be [portion inaudible] and talk about that. One of the most effective things is to pick up photos of the refugees or those who are suffering [word inaudible] inside Darfur. That really shows what or how much those people [portion inaudible]. It tells the others who don't know what's going on exactly over there, and maybe that they move or do something serious. But the problem is how you can get pictures. Those who went over there and witnessed it by themselves, sometimes they couldn't take, they weren't allowed to take any pictures. I remember some of those aid workers and some of even A.U. members who are working over there, some of them they were punched, they were beaten badly because they picked up the camera for pictures and [portion inaudible] and you can get killed if you do that because the government of Sudan, they mostly they don't want documentation to get out. Because that is one of the things maybe becomes a more important witness in the day of accountability for the government of Sudan. And that's why the government of Sudan they are trying to hide any kind of documentation. To hide any kind of, you know, information. They don't want information to go out, especially pictures.
It is very dangerous and it is very fearful. You need people to protect you to get pictures, you need people to save you, to guard you, to get those pictures. Most of that we have, we have so many things, we have mass graves. And graves are public graves, just stone in simple and common places [portion incomprehensible], but any one of those in the government of Sudan, because it is trying to agitate or remain also any kind of those signs out while they're out. And if they realize that any one of you knows exactly where those [word incomprehensible] people is, they will make you leave it. And this is [portion inaudible]. We need people to work together, we need protection. [Portion inaudible]...Eric Reeves about the rest of the question.
Thank you. We hear a lot about compassion fatigue, aid fatigue, crisis fatigue, and I think it's a very real phenomenon. We have plenty of pictures, in fact, of Darfur. James Nachtwey I believe won a Pulitzer Prize for his photo that's on the cover of Time magazine's issue devoted, cover story devoted to Darfur, a tremendous series of photographs. But it's very difficult to convey scale with individual photographs. As Stalin famously said, "one death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic," or something very like that.
We had in Darfur a problem of coming to terms with numbers that really are staggering. The idea of 400,000 people dying, the notion of 2 and a half million people being displaced, this is over a third of the population. To have almost half the population of Darfur be conflict affected. And that can mean a great many things, it can mean in some cases children under 5 suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition. There are two categories of malnutrition barometers. One is Global Acute Malnutrition, which reflects one level of nutritional health, and then there's Sever Acute Malnutrition, or SAM, and some of these rates are frighteningly high. And some of the people who are coming in from the rural areas of Darfur are especially vulnerable, have been without food or adequate food for a very long time. But individual pictures are a difficult way in which to convey scale, and I think one of the most important things in thinking about Darfur is to think about scale. We are talking about so many hundreds of thousands of lives lost, but also at risk.
This is not a crisis that will wind down. This is not a catastrophe that will end of its own accord. If the world does not intervene, if there's not humanitarian intervention providing protection to more than 150 camps housing approximately two million internally displaced people who've actually been registered, leave aside the other displaced people. If these camps are not secure, women and children, women and girls leaving will face rape. Boys and men leaving will face execution. If humanitarian corridors are not secured, aid convoys will simply stop operating. Food will not move into an area in which the agricultural economy has collapsed. The people, the hundreds of thousands of people in rural areas presently beyond humanitarian reach, increasingly desperate, have to have a way of getting to humanitarian relief sites. That can only be done with humanitarian intervention, meaning all necessary military support and protection. If people are ever to return to their villages, or the burned out remains of their former villages, and to resume agriculturally productive lives, they will need protection. Without protection, they cannot go back.
This is going to require a great many troops initially, for protection purposes. I quite realize in the wake of Iraq it becomes a very difficult subject for Americans, and indeed Europeans, to think about: another humanitarian intervention. This is not Iraq. Humanitarian intervention in Darfur is entirely different from whatever is occurring and has occurred in Iraq. And let's be very clear, not only is the purpose different, the consequences and stakes are very different as well. If we do not intervene in Darfur, I am telling you, hundreds of thousands of people will die. They will die. It may take months, it may take years, but they will die, because of what is happening now. The famine that is impending, that is already in sight, in parts of rural Darfur, will claim hundreds of thousands of lives. This is in addition to violence and disease in the camps, which are often terribly overcrowded and have woefully inadequate water supplies, often very little in the way of sanitary facilities. We're going to see huge outbreaks of cholera, of dysentery (dysentery is very common already), of malaria, of Hepatitis E, on and on the list goes of diseases that will claim many, many tens of thousands of lives. Again, the rainy season, which begins at the end of May, beginning of June, is the period of intensest [sic] difficulty. If there's not a commitment to intervene prior to that, then we will have another rainy season, which will claim an unforgettable number of lives.
Jut a few more questions.
I feel like I've heard a lot of talk about not only relating this conflict to Iraq, but kind of using that as an excuse, sort of along the lines of this is bad timing and the reason that we aren't doing more, or we aren't doing anything, is because of that. But I was just curious, do you think that if we weren't, if our situation wasn't what it is today, that things would be different in how we are handling this conflict?
Well, that's a good question, and it tells a frank assessment of U.S. foreign policy commitments to Africa generally, and if we look at it through that prism, it's hard to be encouraged: it's hard to be encouraged in the wake of Rwanda, it's hard to be encouraged in the wake of Somalia, which is often regarded as a debacle, when in fact there can be no doubt that however ignominious the U.S. exit from Somalia, thousands and thousands of lives were saved by that intervention that's lost in the perception of American rangers being dragged through Mogadishu. But the intervention in Somalia was by some measures a very considerable success. But it certainly defined the context in which the Clinton administration considered Rwanda. And we certainly know that there has been deep hesitation on the part of successive American administrations. So, I think your question is a good one, and I don't know what the answer is. What I do know is that Iraq makes it exceedingly difficult right now, and I suspect that any American participation in an intervention would be in the way of transport, logistics, intelligence, which would be critical, and probably medical support. But those don't require any American boots on the ground, and the failure of the Bush administration to confront the issue seriously, as reflected in recent comments by Condoleezza Rice, suggests that your question is very well asked.
One of the professors was irritated that the New York Times, that they referred to the Janjaweed as Arab militias. But, is that right, when you see it [word incomprehensible] like that? Is it as simple as Arab versus Black?
Yes, the Janjaweed are absolutely Arabs, and it is not just Arabs of Sudan, because Arabs of Sudan are few, you have to know that Arabs in Sudan, in general not more than 17 percent of the whole people of Sudan. Some people estimated them by about 20 percent, but in reality there are very few, and just they have power, they are ruling the government, and they have, you know, they have the [word inaudible] and they have all this kind of stuff. But, they know they couldn't control all over the area in South of Sudan, and right now in Darfur and Nuba Mountains: those are 80 percent of the Sudanese. That is why Janjaweed have been recruited from several countries, if you can believe that. From several Arab countries. You get Egyptian, you get people from Kuwait, you get people from Chad-- [END OF RECORDING]