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July 26, 2004

Genocide in Sudan: A mother's perspective

I am the mother and activist that contacted the writers of the Passion of the Present. I had heard about Sudan and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people in the Darfur region but the dimension of the human catastrophe had not sunk in in the middle of the hubbub of what constitutes the daily life of a working mother.

Then, a few weeks ago, the New York Times Magazine published a series of pictures from Darfur, among them the picture of a mother cradling her dying child that was shriveled up by illness and hunger. This picture shook me deeply. Unlike any words, it conveyed to me the depth of the crimes unfolding there, the common humanity I felt with this mother, and the deep regret that we are yet again standing by while a genocide is under way. And the word genocide is hardly strong enough -- it is personal, person by person, human being by human being, child by child, mother by mother who are dying of dysentery, dyptheria, and starvation.

I am a mother and I have held my ill children, with a mixture of helplessness and fierce protection, so wanting to make them feel better. I can glimpse an incling of this mother's despair of not being able to save her child, a child that likely is dead by now. I cannot but help feel rage at the fact that this is a preventable catastrophe. International human rights and relief organizations are staged at the border, ready to bring in food and medicine. Political and religious leaders in the United States and the world are hedging. Where are they? Where is there the loud and fearless call to action and yes, intervention, so that relief organizations can immediately access the region?

We know what is happening there and we can prevent the death of hundreds of thousands of mothers, children, fathers, brothers, sisters, grandmothers and grandfathers --human beings like you and me. I understand the geopolitics and political exigencies of the various parties but I ultimatelty do not care much about these politics that are now used as an excuse for inaction and standing by. At this point I care about that a rogue band of heavily armed marauders supported by the government is causing the death of possibly up to a million people who are struggling to survive under inhumane conditions in overcrowded refugee camps at the border of Chad, watching their children and each other die, minute by minute. I care about the child in her mothers arms and not about political leaders excuses for not intervening.

That said, there are concrete things I have done and that you can do:

1. Call Secretary of State Colin Powell at 202-647-4000 or 202-647-6607. Urge the Bush administration to immediately declare the atrocities in Sudan a genocide; and provide US leadership for an international peacekeeping force in Darfur. You can also send a letter to the State Department here.

2. Talk and write to your friends and relatives to ask them to do the same. Speak from the heart and do not get sidetracked by politics.

There is a deeply personal side to why people get involved and become active. For me this is one of those times where political action is motivated by something much more fundamental that usually stays private -- my love for my children and the wish that they grow up in a world where they learn to recognize injustice and suffering and act when our common and shared humanity is deeply threatened. We are all in this crazy world together.

Katrin

July 26, 2004 | Permalink

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Posted by: anna | January 13, 2005 01:02 PM

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