Wednesday, June 30, 2004
To push Khartoum, the Bush administration began circulating a proposed resolution among members of the Security Council on Wednesday, calling for a travel ban and an arms embargo on the Janjaweed. American diplomats said that, for the moment, the resolution was the subject of informal consultation aimed at producing final language next week. The draft calls on member states to prevent any military equipment or arms from reaching the Janjaweed and to make sure that no militia members enter or travel through other countries. It calls on the government to fulfill commitments it has made to stop all military attacks in Darfur; "disarm and neutralize" the Janjaweed; protect civilians, particularly those in camps for the displaced; end restrictions on the access of aid to the area and begin investigating violations of international humanitarian law.
According to an NPR report I heard earlier this day, the Sudanese government is denying that there is the threat of widespread famine in Darfur. When questioned by the NPR reporter, Secretary Powell danced around the issue of whether to call what is happening there "genocide."
So is any of this going to do any good?
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
Saturday, June 26, 2004
Friday, June 25, 2004
Kristof, in a posting on his web site, recommends the following aid groups to give money to:
Readers keep asking me what they can do about the genocide unfolding in Darfur, Sudan, or who they can write to. I'm in the reporting business, not the lobbying business. But for those readers desperate for some ideas, here are some that have been passed on to me:
For readers who want to contribute financially, one of the main aid organizations active in Darfur itself is Doctors Without Borders. Another key group is the International Rescue Committee, which was building wells in one of the areas that I visited.
For readers who want to engage their member of Congress or pursue the matter politically can find more information at this link from the International Crisis Group.
In addition, Africa Action is sponsoring an on-line petition calling for tougher action against the killings in Darfur.
Human Rights Watch has produced superb reports on the crisis here.
Finally, for those who want to stay informed about the crisis in Darfur, there are several websites that have regular updates of news there. One is http://www.gurtong.com , another is http://www.reliefweb.it and another is http://www.allafrica.com/sudan/
This is just a small sampling of what's out there. Most big aid groups, including all the major faith-based ones, are helping, from Catholic Relief Services (http://www.catholicrelief.org) to Friends of the World Food Programme (http://www.friendsofwfp.org/) to World Vision (http://www.worldvision.org) to American Jewish World Service (http://www.ajws.org). Indeed, one of the big gaps has been Islamic charities, which have tended -- inexcusably -- to show sympathy for Sudan's Arab government. So the sad and ironic outcome is that the people of Darfur, who are virtually all Muslims, are getting significant help from Christians and Jews but almost nothing from fellow Muslims. I hope some Muslim aid groups will quickly remedy that.
In a later posting, Kristof gave information about Muslim charities that are involved in helping people in Darfur:
After scolding Muslims for not doing more to help the people of Darfur, I got this email from Zeeshan in California:
I am a muslim and ashamed to see yet another instance of muslims committing genocide on other muslims. I am originally from Bangladesh, and we are familiar with religion being hijacked for political agendas - we were subject to a genocide in 1971 by the erstwhile ruling West Pakistanis. Darfur is being covered by a muslim charity that I donate to. Here's the link: http://www.irw.org/ or http://www.irw.org/sudan . I would appreciate posting this link as a proof that not all muslims are turning a blind eye towards such a heart-breaking tragedy.
That link is for Islamic Relief, a major charity. I didnt come across its people on my visits to the Chad/Sudan border, but its website shows it to be commendably active on the issue. There are lots of other Muslim charities the Islamic obligation to give zakat, or alms to the needy, has nurtured many aid groups and they do fine work in poor countries. I hope more become active in Darfur. They could play a particularly useful role because they would be more trusted by Sudan and might get better access, and they might also have more Arabic speakers on staff (most of the victims in Darfur speak a tribal language as their mother tongue, and then Arabic as a second language, making communication a big problem).
Thursday, June 24, 2004
Wednesday, June 23, 2004
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
ALONG THE CHAD-SUDAN BORDER — The Bush administration says it is exploring whether to describe the mass murder and rape in the Darfur region of Sudan as "genocide." I suggest that President Bush invite to the White House a real expert, Magboula Muhammad Khattar, a 24-year-old widow huddled under a tree here.
The world has acquiesced shamefully in the Darfur genocide, perhaps because 320,000 deaths this year (a best-case projection from the U.S. Agency for International Development) seems like one more boring statistic. So listen to Ms. Khattar's story, multiply it by hundreds of thousands, and let's see if we still want to look the other way....
Are we going to act as we did in Rwanda, and look the other way, or this time will we admit that genocide is being committed before our eyes?
Thursday, June 10, 2004
I think that Reagan's passing must have been a mercy for him and for his family; his mind had already gone on to somewhere that nobody else could follow, and I've always felt that's a terribly sad way to end one's days. My grandmother, who's about the same age as Reagan was, doesn't have the specific Alzheimer's disease, but for her too, she's more gone than there. I think that one of the worst aspects would be to be aware of what's happened to you but unable to communicate it to anybody. I hope that Reagan had passed beyond that stage and my grandmother as well.
She has this useful suggestion:
To me, one of the best ways to honor Reagan's memory in a way that does also something good for others, is to donate for Alzheimer's research and care. The Alzheimer's Association is accepting donations in honor of Reagan and I encourage everybody who can spare some change to make a donation tomorrow on the day of mourning for Reagan. Whether you're a liberal or a conservative and whatever you think of his presidential legacy, he and his family have done a tremendous amount to help other victims of Alzheimer's and that's something we can all feel good about supporting. Thanks.
Tuesday, June 08, 2004
Monday, June 07, 2004
Saturday, June 05, 2004
In the middle of life
Looking at myself in the mirror,
hair pulled back from my face,
wisps of hair flying out on the left –
a few strands of grey.
I look at the darker hollows under my eyes
the dark under my chin.
This body is so fragile.
What hidden in it now will kill me?
Or maybe my death will come from outside – not an illness,
heart, or lungs, or breasts,
but a fall down the stairs,
a broken hip,
a speeding car,
or something more violent –
My mother died at age 48.
My aunt just died at 73.
Tobacco smoke seared their lungs.
The sacred leaf that the Indians smoked only at holy times
ended my mother’s life and her sister’s.
Now at this time of my life, age 47,
life seems so short to enjoy
between the parentheses of eternity
or of forgetfulness.
It’s commonplace to say it –
but when I was younger, life stretched out before me
into the indefinite future.
I didn’t see its end.
(Although when I was much younger, I didn’t think I’d survive 30;
underneath my daily life was always the thought: we will all die in the great conflagration. But we didn’t. Instead the Berlin Wall fell, and the bombers with their world-destroying weight stopped circling the earth).
Now I wonder how much more time is left to me?
Today I sat in Caffit
the table closest to the door
drank my cappuchino with katzefet and powdered chocolate,
ate my croissant with chocolate paste smeared in its middle
and wondered every time someone passed by –
is he a bomber coming with
the explosives bound around his belly?
like the one who came here before,
whose nerves and sweat betrayed him
before he had a chance to touch the detonator?
But that’s an old fear, death by violence –
more likely I think is the slow passage of time
and the illnesses it brings,
the dangers we carry around in our bodies every day,
the deadly freight of living.
On the other hand, we haven't been entirely free of completely unnecessary and inflammatory political rhetoric on other issues. As I wrote about in this blog previously, earlier this year some students brought an exhibit to campus called the "Genocide Awareness Project" -- a series of big posters with pictures of aborted fetuses next to photographs of piles of bodies of victims of the Shoah, the World Trade Center burning, etc. In an article in the student newspaper they claimed that their intention was to promote dialogue on the issue of abortion, but of course this tactic merely polarized the discussion, and disgusted many people who were offended by their coopting of our emotions about the Holocaust, the September 11 terrorist attacks, etc. If there must discussions on campus about abortion, then please let them be rational. (I personally am not sure it's worth having discussions about abortion, because everyone's mind seems to be made up).