Tuesday, March 06, 2007

US State Department puts Darfur first

It’s normally a very bad day when your hometown shows up at the top of a U.S. government list of the world’s worst human rights abuses – so why am I so happy?

When the State Department published its annual report on human rights around the world – it had plenty of items to discuss. From concerns in Russia to coups in Fiji, there was no shortage of human rights issues to condemn. However, at the top of its "most concerning" list is the genocide in Darfur – and the killing of my friends.

I am pleased that this crisis has been acknowledged for what it is – a humanitarian disaster on a scale only seen in previous genocides. This is positive because it will garner media attention (CNN has it on its front page), raise awareness and really sharpen the focus on Sudan’s actions. The end result is that if the U.S. Government says its important – then it is.

However, I am disappointed that it was “in retrospect.” In other words, this list is a list of abuses in 2006 – THEY ALREADY HAPPENED. My friends are already dead, their blood already shed out of hatred and the young girls already raped. No list in the world will return families from the dead and heal deep scars. We must act as the violence continues into 2007 and make it an absolute priority that the Darfur crisis does not appear on the 2007 version of the list as well.

Now that the State Department has made it so obvious what its #1 concern is, the other parts of the government - especially the newly elected Democratic Congress and President Bush – must take action. If more is not done to save the men and women of Darfur and to restore their ability to built futures and fulfill childhood dreams – the we are getting dangerously close to becoming “guilty by non action.”