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    Young girl with infant child at refugee camp in Darfur. Photo by Dan Scandling, Office of U.S. Representative Frank Wolf

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The Passion of the Present (the essay)

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    In Darfur, a region in western Sudan approximately the size of Texas, over a million people are threatened with torture and death at the hands of marauding militia and a complicit government. Genocide evokes not only the moral, but also, the legal responsibility of the world community. Under international agreement, a nation must intervene to stop a genocide when it is officially acknowledged.

    "Officially" is the key word here. So far, no nation in the international community has "officially" acknowledged the truth: Sudan is a bleeding ground of genocide. In this void, the Sudanese government continues to act with brutal impunity.

    Thankfully, there are individuals working in human rights organizations who are watching - and witnessing - and organizing, in support of the victims in Darfur. These individuals represent, for all of us, a personal capacity to bear witness to the passion of the present; one candle lit against the darkness.

    However, before one can light a candle, someone has to strike a match: a donation to any of the human rights organizations active in Sudan, contacting your government representative, local newspaper, radio and t.v. station. Our individual activism is essential for the candlepower of witness to overcome and extinguish the firepower of genocide.

    This world has long endured wars that take lives. Let us be part of one that saves them.

    About: The Passion of the Present site is a totally non-profit labor of love and hope - in peace. Thanks for joining the effort.

  • Detailed administrative map of Sudan
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  • Satellite Images of destruction in Darfur, from USAID

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  • GOOGLE SEARCH THIS SITE: More than 2966 chronological posts from April, 2004. Try "oil" "China" "women" "genocide treaty" "UN" "Kofi Annan" "timelines" "grassroots".

  • Our name comes from an essay entitled "The Passion of the Present" that one of our grassroots founders wrote and circulated by email in March of 2004. The blog started at the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School.

    The editors are semi-anonymous in order to keep the focus on Sudan. This site is a resource for a blog-based information community now numbering several hundred interlinked bloggers and sites. Visitors come from around the world. Daily traffic ranges from just under a thousand visitors, to more than eight thousand on days when news attention peaks.

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« Irish Prime Minister urged to press for UN intervention in Sudan - Khartoum had done "absolutely nothing" to meet UN demands | Main | Draft of Kofi Annan's upcoming report to UN Security Council says Sudan government has NOT met UN demands to disarm militias »

August 31, 2004


Wikus Hattingh

Isn't it a bit shortsighted to demand the one-sided disarmament of the Janjaweed? Surely they will then be left defenseless against the rebels who are no less brutal - if an article in the latest Economist is to be believed.


Hello Wikus, looks like the rebels are saying if they are the first to be disarmed and "barracked" it would leave them and all other civilians defenceless against the forces that have been attacking them on land and from the air. Which is why thousands of peacekeepers (ideally 15,000 or better still 80,000!) - together with international support, logistical planning, communications equipment and expertise - are needed to help with the disarmament, observe and monitor ceasefire agreements, provide a safe corridor for aid and assistance, and work with the Sudanese forces to help establish law and order and restore people's confidence so they can return home and start rebuilding their lives.

GoS are against this because, according to them, peacekeepers would be seen as an occupying force. By whom? The so-called Janjaweed? Surely the civilians can't be much worse off or feel more 'imprisoned' than they are now. Long term refugee camps are no kind of life for anyone.

Hundreds of thousands walked into the camps voluntarily. And are waiting to go home. Understandably, they want peacekeepers because are they are too frightened of the forces that have been attacking them.

How else can the disarmament happen? Seems evident over many years now that Sudanese forces are unable to keep law and order in such a large country. They need outside help, it's simply too big of a job without the right training and support.

Seems (to me) the only reason that makes sense as to why they are rejecting the help is that they fear being overpowered and overthrown.

GoS, by taking so long to provide unimpeded access for humanitarian aid and assistance while refusing offers of help, at the same time as not being able (or willing) to protect its people, is proof they are negligent in their duties and responsibilities and are not fit to govern, and should be put on trial for crimes against humanity.

Sudan could have a lot going for it once the Peace Accords are sorted out to the satisfaction of everyone in north-south-east-west of Sudan.

Thousands of people from around the world are going to a lot of time and trouble over Sudan and are bending over backwards to help, but it's clear that a small number of men are responsible for refusing - without good reason - the help offered and are stopping millions of ordinary men, women and children from leading normal lives - which can't be right, don't you agree?

If the present regime couldn't sort things out over the past 15 years what makes them think they can do it alone in another 60 days?

Wikus Hattingh

Hi Ingrid,

Thanks for your passionate answer, but we have to be careful lest we are carried away by our passions.

We cannot simply dismiss the fears of the Janjaweed and the GoS as irrelevant and obstrucionist. After all, it is they who will have to live with the consequences long after the international community has washed its hands of the cause du jour.

After the outbursts of high-minded condemnation from American peacenik-types, can you blame the government for feeling threatened? Also, we cannot pretend that religious prejudice does not come into play when the Christian West presumes to tell a Muslim country to get its house in order.

If the West really wants to play a constructive role and not be perceived as wanting to make inroads into the Muslim sphere, the best approach would be to work via Muslim charities like the Red Crescent and to encourage Muslim countries like Saudi-Arabia and Pakistan to mediate in the conflict.


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