Children from Darfur, Photo courtesy International Rescue Committee  (click to view large)DARFUR GENOCIDE INTERVENTION INITIATIVE

       By Samuel Totten and Eric Markusen

"If every member of the House of Representatives and Senate had received 100 letters from people back home saying we have to do something about Rwanda, when the crisis was first developing then I think the response would have been different." - Senator Paul Simon 


     Genocide is raging in Darfur. The Government of Sudan (GOS) and Arab militias the GOS supports are killing Sudanese black Africans of all ages simply because of their ethnic identities.  Nearly every black African village in Darfur has now been destroyed.  The GOS intends to crush black African rebel groups and to rid Darfur of black Africans once and for all. The estimates of deaths in Darfur now range between 100,000 and 350,000. While the international community frets, makes idle threats (such as sanctions that are never imposed), and engages in talk about whether this is really genocide and  what should be done, hundreds of innocent victims continue to die daily.  Meanwhile GOS troops and their Arab militia allies (known as the Janjaweed or devils on horseback) attack, rape and murder with impunity.

      The international community is not only comprised of individual nations, regional organizations and intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations. Every single human being is a member of the international community. We are all our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers when genocide erupts anywhere at anytime for any reason. Those nations, organizations and individuals that do not act to stop the genocide become bystanders to genocide.

     We, Samuel Totten and Eric Markusen, feel a particular sense of responsibility because, as members of the Atrocities Documentation Team sent by the U.S. Government to the Chad/Sudan border to investigate allegations of genocide, we personally witnessed the suffering of refugees and listened to their heartbreaking stories of being raped, injured, losing loved ones to mass murder, and facing disease and hunger.           

A POSSIBLE SOLUTION: "Make more noise!"

     In her Pulitzer-prize winning book, "A Problem from Hell": America in the Age of Genocide, Samantha Power surmises that

      The real reason the United States did not do what it could and should have done to stop genocide [in the past] was not a lack of knowledge or influence but a lack of will. Simply put, American leaders did not act because they did not want to...
The executive branch has felt no pressure from the home front. American leaders have been able to persist in turning away because genocide in distant lands has not captivated senators, congressional caucuses, Washington lobbyists, elite opinion stop genocide has thus been repeatedly lost in the realm of domestic politics. Although isolated voices have protested the slaughter, Americans outside the executive branch were largely mute when it mattered. As a result of this society-wide silence, officials at all levels of governments calculated that the political costs of getting involved in stopping genocide far exceeded the costs of remaining uniformed. ...It takes political pressure to put genocide on the map in Washington [D.C.]. When Alison Des Forges of Human Rights Watch met with National Security Adviser Anthony Lake two weeks into the Rwanda genocide, he informed her that the phones were not ringing. "Make more noise!" he urged. Because so little noise has been made about genocide, U.S. decision-makers have opposed U.S. intervention, telling themselves that they were doing all the could  --  and , most important, all they should --  in light of competing American interests and a highly circumscribed understanding of what was domestically "possible" for the United States to do (pp. 508-509).

     In the same book, Power reported the following  -- and we think, revelatory  -- statement:

      Senator Paul Simon (D.Ill.) [now deceased], chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee believes public pressure might have alerted the U.S. response [to the outbreak  of the Rwandan genocide in 1994]. "If every member of the [U.S.] House of Representatives and [U.S.] Senate had received 100 letters from people back home saying we have to do something about Rwanda, when the crisis was first developing then I think the response would have been different" (p. 377).


     With ever fiber of our being, we urge every person who receives this message or reads it on this website to take action as follows:

      Simply write a short note to your U.S. Representative and your U.S. Senators and e-mail it to each of them. The note can be as simple as "I implore you to act to stop the genocide in Darfur, and to do so now.”  Please send a copy of your e-mails to Samuel Totten at stotten@uark.edu so we can keep track of how many e-mails are sent.

     You can easily obtain the addresses of your representative and senators by using the search engine: www.congress.org  When you reach the website, simply type in your zip code and you will be given names and e-mail addresses.  For postal address, phone, and fax numbers, just click on “more info.”

     We also ask that you consider sending a copy of your letter to President Bush at president@whitehouse.gov , to Secretary of State Condolezza Rice at this recommended State Department webpage,  to United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour at tb-petitions@ohchr.org , to United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan at sg@un.org and to his Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Juan Mendez at mendez7@un.org (see mailing addresses below)

     As with your letters to elected officials, please send copies to Samuel Totten at stotten@uark.edu.

     On behalf of the dead and dying of Darfur, we thank you.


Samuel Totten

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

Eric Markusen

Southwest Minnesota State University, Marshall, Minnesota;

Danish Institute for International Studies, Copenhagen

Mailing Addresses:

The Honorable Kofi Annan
Secretary-General, United Nations Secretariat, Rm 3800, New York. New York 10017, USA
website: www.un.org/News/ossg/sg

President George W. Bush
The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500, USA
website: www.whitehouse.gov

High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations Office at Geneva, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
website: www.ohchr.org/english/about/hc/arbour.htm

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice
U.S. Department of State 2201 C Street NW Washington, DC 20520, USA
website: www.state.gov/secretary/

President Juan E. Mendez
International Center for Transitional Justice, 20 Exchange Place, 33rd Floor, New York, NY 10005, USA

For Elected Officials in countries other than the USA, see UK (Westminster): Fax Your MP or TheyWorkForYou.com    Canada (Ottawa): MP Look Up   Australia (Canberra): AEC  Also: Websites of National Parliaments 

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