Archive for the ‘Darfur’ Category

WANTED for War Crimes
November 30, 2007

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(Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo)

There is a man named Ocampo. He will bring the criminals of the regime to justice. The killing will stop and we will return to our villages in Darfur, says the women rebel to her fellow women comrades as they carry their guns through the countryside.

This man of whom the rebels speak is Luis Moreno-Ocampo, prosecutor is the International Criminal Court (the first global court devoted to prosecuting crimes against humanity). He and his team have gathered evidence and are ready to try the first darfur war-crimes cases.

Can it be done? Moreno-Ocampo believes the court will be successful. His belief in his case and the court are buoyed by his involvement in the successful prosecutions of war criminals in his home country of Argentina.

His case is solid. The warrants have been issued for Ahmad Muhammad Harun, Sudan’s former Interior Minister who Moreno-Ocampo has charged with orchestrating the slaughter in Darfur and for Ali Kushayb, leader of the janjaweed militia who continue to carry out the genocide (janjaweed means devil on horseback in Arabic).

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(WANTED: Harun and Kashayb)

However problems persists. The Sudanese government does not recognize the ICC and has not turned over the men to the court. Justice may not be servede because of the world wide push for a truce in Darfur. With a negotiated peace may come some type of pardon for the criminals. “The world is complicated,” says Moreno-Ocampo.

–Debbie Orlemanski

See the documentary Darfur Now to learn more about Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the ICC, and the continued genocide in Darfur.

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Darfur Now
November 8, 2007

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Hejewa Adam’s village was attacked and destroyed by Janjaweed militias and government forces. When she fled, her three-month-old son was beaten to death as he clung to her back. Faced with abandoning her home forever or bringing justice and peace back to Sudan, she joins the rebels.

Each of the six stories including Hejewa’s in the new documentary Darfur Now is an inspiration for people everywhere to become involved to resolve the conflict and bring hope and peace to the people of Darfur. The struggles of each of these individuals outlines a different facet of the ongoing crisis in Darfur – but they all point to the need for immediate action.

View the film trailer:

Genocide Intevention Network’s Adam Sterling tells about his appearance in the documentary “Darfur Now”:

What do George Clooney, Don Cheadle and presidential candidates John McCain, Hilary Clinton, and Sam Brownback have in common? They all appear with me in the new documentary Darfur Now!

About 18 months ago, I was introduced to Ted Braun, the director of Darfur Now. We met for coffee in Los Angeles and about a week later he gave me a call and asked if he could follow me around with a camera crew for a couple of days. I had just finished college at UCLA and was working as a waiter five days a week and traveling to Sacramento to lobby for our Sudan divestment bill the other two days. I told Ted that I had to work the next day and to my surprise, he showed up at my restaurant! It was a unique experience and it took me a few weeks to stop talking to the cameras (a big “no-no” in documentary filmmaking).

As the co-founder of the Sudan Divestment Task Force and member of the Genocide Intervention Network, it has truly been an honor to appear as one of six featured subjects in Darfur Now, a theatrical documentary produced by Participant Productions (Inconvenient Truth) and Warner Independent Pictures. Although I may be biased, it is truly a wonderful film and a great advocacy tool that has the potential to shine a powerful light on the crisis in Darfur.

Darfur Now opens nationally this weekend, and I strongly encourage everyone to check out the film. Depending on how well it does, the distributors will determine how many more theatres to send it to. We’ve got a chance to see Darfur Now across the country next to movies like Saw IV and Fred Claus, so please check out the showtimes below and spend a couple of hours checking out Darfur Now this weekend. And don’t forget to bring friends!

 

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– Adam Sterling, Genocide Intervention Network

  • Click here for Darfur Now showtimes
  • Email us for more information on group sales, Darfur Now house parties, and special promotions (including a phone call with Don Cheadle!)

Graça Machel
October 30, 2007

 

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Graça Machel remains one of the most respected, charismatic, and influential leaders of the African continent. Machel was born in Mozambique in 1945 and became a freedom fighter against Portuguese colonialism during the mid ‘70s. After independence, Machel was the only woman to hold a post in the new government’s cabinet. As the Minister of Education and Culture, Graça Machel worked relentlessly to educate as many Mozambicans as possible—eventually increasing the number of children in school from 400,000 when she arrived to 1,500,000 when she left office.

Her dramatic but humble commitment to children’s and women’s rights, education, and development soon earned her recognition beyond Mozambique and Africa. In 1993, the UN asked her to conduct and lead a study of the impact of armed conflict on children. The groundbreaking report presented by Machel in 1996 forever changed the world’s policy on protecting children from being brutalized, used, and murdered as part of adult conflicts. I recently heard someone describe Machel’s command of communication as Shakespearean: exquisite in presentation and relentless. I certainly found this to be true in her writings:

I come from a culture where traditionally, children are seen as both our present and our future, so I have always believed it is our responsibility as adults to give children futures worth having.

I have been chilled listening to children who have been so manipulated by adults and so corrupted by their experiences of conflict that they could not recognize the evil of which they had been a part.

These are the stories behind the figures given in this report — figures of such magnitude that they often hide the impact of these horrors on each child, each family, each community.

Machel continues her global activism today tackling issues from education to HIV/AIDS to land mines. Most recently, Machel confronted the genocidal Khartoum regime during a trip to Sudan with the Elders Project. The Elders is a small gathering of independent world leaders including Graça Machel, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter, Aung Sun Suu Kyi, and Mary Robinson among others. The Elders project is free from political, economic, and military pressures and its only stated agenda is that of “humanity”. Each Elder speaks not for a government but as an individual with their own moral imperatives.

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I was fortunate to be able to sit in on an absolutely incredible debriefing of the Elders’ trip. The anecdotes and stories shared during this off-the-record meeting blew me away. Graça Machel is apparently so well-known and loved on the continent that as she walked through the refugee camps in Chad and Darfur, villagers, refugees, and African Union forces would crowd around her crying out “Mother! Mother!”—hardly taking notice of Desmond Tutu. It seems she represents to them a worthy vessel in which to send out their complex message of hope and fear. When Graça speaks, she will demand the world to acknowledge our obligations. Those within her reach will listen—not because she is an elder of our global village—but because she will have reminded us of an important point. Not to feel these losses and not to acknowledge these gross atrocities against innocence, manifests another type of loss: that of one’s own humanity.

Graça Machel wrote the preface to the 2004 Global Report on Child Soldiering and signed off with this:

Finally: a message to all activists – in families, in governments, in civil society groups – who work with such commitment and courage.

To all of you, throughout the world: your determination to bring an end to the[se abuses], your perseverance and your unstinting efforts in the face of grave dangers are shining examples of what true humanity and commitment mean.

You keep alive the flame of hope and the belief that by working together we can create a world where children can grow up with love, in dignity and in peace.

South African Civil Rights leader Nelson Mandela is married to Graça Machel.

Responsibility to Protect,
Katie

R2P
October 14, 2007

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27-year old Executive Director of the Genocide Intervention Network Mark Hanis recently started off a discussion about genocide with 400 college students by saying, “R2P rocks my world and I hope it’ll rock yours too.” R2P is the common abbreviation of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine which states that when a government is unable or unwilling to protect its citizens from mass atrocities, the international community must take responsibility. This doctrine is unique in that it calls for the untouchable international relations principle of non-interference to yield to the principle of responsibility to act. R2P acknowledges that the primary responsibility of protecting a state’s people lies within that sovereign state. But if that state is unwilling or unable to protect its civilians from serious large-scale harm, it becomes the responsibility of the international community to act. Although R2P has only recently and imperfectly been accepted by member nations at the UN World Summit in 2005, the doctrine has redefined sovereignty.

R2P advocates working through peaceful means to protect citizens. Non-peaceful measures may be necessary on an ad-hoc basis, but only after considering the 6 principles of military intervention outline by the doctrine. For example, there must be a “just cause” to intervene—defined as large scale loss of life with genocidal intent or not—and the “intention” to intervene must be purely motivated by the goals of halting or averting human suffering. Military intervention should only be used as a last resort, according to the principles, and only when there is a reasonable prospect for success.

R2P is not perfect. Realistically states are not going to act to protect civilians half way around the world simply because of a new legal definition of sovereignty or another international convention on genocide. But R2P remains important in that is sets a new norm. Sates generally act for 2 reasons: geo-political interests like oil or, because their citizens demand action. Establishing legal norms like R2P are crucial. Without such standards citizen voices often float aimlessly in a vacuum. But with them, citizens can push their governments to take actions based upon a set of accepted norms, principles, and standards.

R2P moves beyond addressing every international crisis on an ad-hoc basis and establishes a norm of responsibility to act in the face of any genocide, war crime, instance of ethnic cleansing or crime against humanity. Pulitzer Prize winner Samantha Power once wrote that, “It is [unfortunately] within the realm of domestic politics that the battle to stop genocide is lost.” Fostering real change in human rights policy takes domestic pressure from a constituency that cares. Citizens armed with knowledge and a belief in ending crimes against humanity are the missing link to holding elected officials accountable to their responsibility to act.

Each individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity. This responsibility entails the prevention of such crimes, including their incitement, through appropriate and necessary means. We accept this responsibility and will act in accordance with it… (¶ 138).
Paragraphs 138 and 139 of the United Nation’s 2005 World Summit Outcome on the Responsibility to Protect doctrine

A few ways to have a hand in stopping genocide by becoming an involved citizen:

  • Create a YouTube video for the upcoming Republican Presidential Debates on November 28th asking about Darfur. Did you know that in seven Republican presidential debates, the candidates have been asked about Darfur only once? That’s one question out of 247. Submit your question about Darfur today.
  • Divesting your own mutual funds, investments, and pensions from companies supporting Sudan and the junta in Burma. Then pressure your state government officials to do the same. Learn more from the Sudan Divestment Task Force.
  • Calling 1-800-GENOCIDE to pressure your senator or rep. Just call the number and you can receive talking points and then be connected to your congressperson. I was nervous because I hate talking on the phone, but my first time was really easy because it gives you ideas on what to say. Our government is putting on a repeat performance from Rwanda by dragging its feet on releasing funding and supplies for the UN-AU peacekeeping force in Darfur. Put on the pressure!

If you are in DC this coming Sunday, Mary Jo and I are holding a Bake-Off for Darfur to raise money for and awareness about the genocide.

Responsibility to Protect,
Katie