Last night I watched Hotel Rwanda for the second time. In the film there is a scene where a camera man named Jack has just captured some horrible images of people being slaughtered and the main character Paul is convinced this footage will force people in the west to pay attention. Jack of course explains the greater reality of the world we live in today by telling him:
I think if people see this footage, they’ll say Oh, my God, that’s horrible. And then…they’ll go on eating their dinners.
I don’t know which tragedy is worse: the fact that thousands have been raped and killed, the fact that the world is generally apathetic, the fact that the Arab and Muslim world in particular is apathetic, the fact that it remains ongoing, the fact that a few years have passed and there are still so many who don’t know what’s going on, the fact that it doesn’t make the news anymore, or the fact that we go on eating our dinners.
The death toll stands at 400,000
Let me repeat that
The death toll stands at 400,000
5,000 every month
2.4 million displaced
In 3 years
The UN calls it “the world’s worst current humanitarian crisis”
We are talking about a people who are non-Arab Muslims and have been discriminated against for years. They’ve committed no crime other than the fact that they are not Arabs and therefore are not considered as real Muslims. And on American television a translator is keeping up with a woman, a mother, crying about how her two sons were killed. ItÃ¢??s Arabic that heÃ¢??s translating.
We are talking about a government armed militia allowed to freely kill and rape.
And we are talking about silence. Silence from the west, from super power(s), from the Muslim world and from the Arab world. Merely scarce condemnations here and there that are as rare as water in the desert.
And we are talking about apathy.
Hollywood celebrities like Angelina Jolie and George Clooney manage to bring what small pieces of attention they can to the issue. People can question their intentions but it’s better than nothing in my opinion. Jolie can adopt all the orphans she wants.
Meanwhile, last month the Arab Summit was held in Sudan. Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir rejected any deployment of UN troops to Darfur despite a UN Security Council agreement to begin plans. It is unlikely any UN peace keepers will ever touch foot in Darfur, at least not any time soon. Of course no agreement was reached at the summit on what should be done.
It’s kind of strange how the western world and the eastern world can disagree on just about everything except on what to do about Darfur: nothing. Its times like these that get me thinking what would an Arab citizen do? A year or so ago I remember seeing an Amr Khaled project by way of Life Makers, to collect a massive amount of clothes. I’ve seen next to nothing since then out of the Arab world.
George Clooney goes on Oprah and tells people to write their representative in congress; to call a 1-800 number to the Whitehouse switchboard. But who do we call? Who do we write? There’s no system in place that allows for Arab citizens to do anything other than the obvious collecting of food and money which is pretty much useless if so many of these people won’t live to see the end of the month or year anyway. What is needed is obvious political pressure and that is no where to be seen.
The irony here is that nations which do have a democratic system where the electorate has the power to call up their representative have done next to nothing, and nations that don’t have that system have also done nothing. Not an excuse. Truth is, even if we did have that system we wouldn’t do anything.
This Sunday a big rally is being organized in Washington. Maybe a lot of people will show up. Maybe horrific images will be shown on the evening news for the first time in the longest time. But one thing’s for sure: we will all go on eating our dinners.
But I figure the least I can do at 3 in the morning is write a post to voice my lack of apathy. Maybe 20 or 30 people will read this. Maybe a blogger or two will voice their own lack of apathy. Maybe 5 people won’t go on eating their dinners. Maybe.
Darfur Crisis – Wikipedia
Who’s Who in Darfur
I think the problem is that we forget about these issues.. we get angry in the beginning, feel sorry for these ppl, but then after a while we just begin to forget and even better yet, ignore. I dont have much hope in our Arab “leaders” as I have yet to see any serious organized action to end this genocide, but I expect more from the Muslim world. WE need to organize and mobilize ourselves and hold protests, collect donations, rally our “leaders” and push them to do something, and do all that is in our power to bring this to an end. We can start by a simple task called prayer.. praying for these people and asking God to end this genocide. Hopefully, the Arab and Muslim world will wake up, turn off their television sets that are tuned to Haifa Wehby and Nancy Ajram, get up, and work for this cause before its too late.
Good post. I was planning myself to blog about this issue. The main thing that bloggers (or any non-politician) can do is to make people aware of the situation. Hopefully sooner than later, people will demand that our governments intervene in this horrible situation. In any case, your writing is a good step forward.
Naseem, there are Arabs amongst them too. Not that it makes any difference to anyone but I’m just saying.
I wish I can learn more about this prolem from an objective 3rd party source.
If the problem is as simple as you describe here, why the Suadense government is letting it happen? why is this problem becoming US vs Sudan than anything else?
I wish the ADC spend their time on arab-wide issues instead of doing only palestine!
Gulf countries and their charities are not publicised enough. The Gulf region was among the most generous in the world. They are excellent at providing water and sanitation, very effective and quick.
UN and Saudis may do more together in Darfur and Sudan
Arab women can power peace, progress. Peaceful ways and means can be the weapons to end wars. Educated mothers can do that. Instead of having men negotiate settlements, why not allow those who suffer the most to resolve these conflicts?
Sudan Watch, you have a very nice blog. I think the problem I’m pointing out it is (a) lack of publicised campaigns and as for what money Gulf countries do give, I’m inclined to believe it goes through the Sudanese government and more importantly (b) lack of political pressure from Arab countries which have a stake in this tragedy.
i am disgusted by the slow response of the international community to take action in darfur. the intl media has converted into a celebrity driven vehicle prostituting themselves to glorify unimportant figures rather than doing what they are supposed to do, to bring about social change.
This one makes sence “One’s first step in wisdom is to kuesstion everything – and one’s last is to come to terms with everything.”