Saturday, July 31, 2004

U.S. Holocaust Museum Issues First Ever 'Genocide Emergency' Sudan:

No sleep for you Omar el-Beshir, no sleep for your government ministers, nor for your henchmen militias. We're gonna keep increasing the pressure and volume of voices until you get the job done that many of us in the world demand.

When a U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Conscience Committee condemns your actions as modern-day genocide, what you gonna say, that they don't know what they are talking about? I'd be careful how I responded to this charge Omar, millions of's readers will be watching and listening, and millions more of us around the world.

Even Kofi Annan is beginning to show some backbone in his public condemnation of Sudan's behavior toward its indigenous peoples. Speak up Mr. Annan, call it what it is, and show the government in Khartoum you mean business this time. Here's the link to the U.N. Secretary-General's very own website if you never visited before:

The U.N. Secretary-General Homepage

Friday, July 30, 2004

Darfur Photo 5

These children don't have 30 days time left...
Photo by USAID wait and see if the Government of Sudan will protect them as promised. Many children refugees in Darfur and Chad don't have even 30 hours left, while we wait.

Darfur Photo 4

Family of women and children survivors of the Janjaweed raids in Darfur.
Photo by USAID July 2004

These people were farmers, able to fend for themselves in an already most inhospitable arid climate, tending their fields and producing food for their villages. Now they are totally dependant upon the world community for their very existence, their menfolk young and old gone, brutally murdered by their own government.

The U.N. Secretary Gerneral, Kofi Annan, is pleading with donor nations for financial pledges from member countries to be honored. The U.N. has received less than 50% of the aid it requested to care for the more than 1 million IDP's presently in Darfur and Chad.

Here is a July 26th report from CNN's Chief International Correspondent Christianne Amanpour filed from Chad: Sudan's Hellish Humanitarian Crisis

World wants Sudan militias disarmed - Now! - U.S. wants Sudan militias disarmed - Jul 30, 2004

We are waiting on the vote today U.N. Security Council, it's 16:46 here in Europe and no word out of New York yet. Which countries will be for the refugees of Darfur, which countries will be against them, and which countries are too much of a coward or too complicit in the crimes themselves to vote either way?

Well the vote is finally in, a 13-0-2 vote in favor of sanctions, and again we find China in the shadows of rampant exploitation and human misery in Africa. Pakistan simply is between a rock and a hard place again re: another failed Islamic state.

CNN article on the U.N.S.C. vote: U.N. Council O.K.'s Resolution

BBC's article on the S.C. resolution: U.N. Resolution on Darfur - Full Text

Turning Up the Heat on Khartoum

I've been agonizing for days about how to compose my next posting to this blog regarding the Crisis in Darfur.  The focus of the blog at present has shifted away from our friends down in southern Uganda north by a thousand or more kilometers across the border into western Sudan.  The emergency there is too great to ignore, too great for the whole civilized world to ignore.  I'm sure our friends in Uganda would agree.
My last posting on Darfur was intended to provide some useful links to online resources about the dire situation in Sudan and information about how ordinary people can help and how to take meaningful action.  I wanted to do more with this posting, I wanted to help "Turn up the Volume and the Heat to Maximum" on the Janjaweed militias and the Killers in Khartoum.  To let 'em know that lots of people around the world are not going to stand for this crap anymore, that we are drawing a line in the sand between those poor frightened and starving refugees from Darfur and you, their killers!"
A few days ago there was a news video showing Omar al-Beshir, present Dictator of Sudan, working his followers up into a frenzy for war.  The TV news report stated that  5-6,000 Sudanese troops, including the very soldiers and militia guilty of the atrocities against the refugees, were marching into camps in Darfur under the pretense that they were there to protect the innocent.
Some of Omar's warriors performed before the TV news cameras a "traditional ritual" of devouring live chickens, knowing that this bloodthirsty display was sending yet another terrifying message to the frightened women and children looking on.  Women and children who are severly traumitized, exhausted, sick, hungry, confused, and already near death.

Now Omar al-Beshir and his government ministers want to intimidate the U.N., the U.S.A., the African Union, the European Union, and other international bodies by declaring that the sending of international troops to protect the people of Darfur and the international humanitarian workers there would be considered an "act of war against Sudan".
Of course many nations and regional political and religious bodies have had conspicuously little or nothing to say up to now.  What's even worse some countries at the U.N. want to block punitive emergency actions against Sudan by the U.N. Security Council.  Of course this is on behalf of their own economic self-interest (oil and money) and guilt of supporting these scumbags.  I mean, if the world community can stop the ongoing genocide in the Sudan, then such a movement could spread rapidly to their own countries!  This would be a real disaster, for them. 
So here is my personal message to Omar al-Bastado of Khartoum and his ilk:

"You are going to back away from those people you lowlife 'cause we are coming in, and you and your killers will be made to stay away from them forever.  If you want to threaten us by sending in your so-called police to stand against the international community as we are desperately working to rescue the people of Darfur, I want to be the first to sign-up to fight against you and your troops.  You and your boys are going down Omar, and the time for it is long overdue"
For my visitors and readers who are not yet so hot under the collar as I am right now and would like to read more reports and testimony on Darfur, the following links might be of help to you: 
USAID: Response to the Humanitarian Crisis in Darfur 
USAIDTestimony before Committee on Foreign Relations  June 15, 2004
UNICEF: Darfur/Chad Frontline Diary Entries (May-July 2004)
BBC World NewsPhoto Gallery of Bredjing Refugee Camp, Chad 
Passion of the Sudan News Blog (activist blog on Darfur)

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Photos from Darfur 3

Children at Abu Shouk refugee camp undergoing art drawing therapy.
Photo by Dan Scandling, Office of U.S. Representative Frank Wolf

This type of therapy administered by the few humanitarian workers able to have access to these children is hopefully a way for these youngsters to help forget what they have witnessed in their villages and during the flight to some kind of safety and shelter.

Photos from Darfur 2

Young girl with infant child at refugee camp in Darfur.
Photo by Dan Scandling, Office of U.S. Representative Frank Wolf

Photos from Darfur 1

Two young boys attempting to rest at the Abu Shouk Refugee Camp.
Photo by Dan Scandling, Office of U.S. Representative Frank Wolf

They have had a very long and harrowing journey across the desert of Western Sudan. Their village is burned to the ground, many relatives and friends have been murdered by the Janjaweed militias, including their parents.

Sudan - The Crisis in Darfur

Human Rights Watch - Sudan - Crisis in Darfur

Above is a link to some online resources from Human Rights Watch on the Crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan. Pay particular attention to the reports "Darfur Destroyed" and "Darfur in Flames", with the accompanying multimedia presentations (photos and video).

Then ask yourself the very important question, "Can I just sit here and do nothing about these types of atrocities, again?".

Answer: "If you've got a voice, Use It Damnit!!  If you can do more than just complain, then do more, right now."
What I particularly like about the HRW resource page on the Darfur Crisis is the list of recommendations on what you can actually do to help these people in taking direct action with your respective governments and international organizations i.e. the United Nations Security Council.
If that is not enough to get your butt moving on this critically important global issue which we and our concerned world leaders all swore would never be allowed to happen again in our lifetimes (Genocide, Ethnic Cleansing, Rwanda, Auschwitz), perhaps the following links might help:
U.S. Congressional Visit to Darfur June 2004 by U.S. Senator Sam Brownbeck and U.S. Representative Frank Wolf:
News article and report
Photos by Dan Scandling newswire and article directory for the Sudan Crisis
CNNI articles on the Darfur Crisis
BBC World articles and resources on the Darfur Crisis
Where are the millions of people around the world now who were so eager over the past few years to"go on the streets and storm the barricades" in vehement protest against unjust War??
Is it not that the people of Darfur deserve our support through intervention actions and humanitarian assistance, and our collective expressions of outrage and condemnation toward the government in Khartoum and their "shady" backers?
Are the Black Africans of Darfur made to suffer unbearable atrocities while much of the world remains silent for the same reasons that the Janjaweed Arab militias hunt them down like animals, because their skin is black, is that it?

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Four Jewels in Jinja

These young girls represent to me Uganda's hope for the present and the future...and hope for many of us around the world concerning their own bright futures as well.
Photo by Susanne Behnke, Uganda 2003

Saturday's Smile No. 2

...and another great smile from this beautiful young lady.
Photo by Susanne Behnke, Uganda 2003

Saturday's Smile No. 1

A most beautiful jewel of a smile from young lady in Uganda.
Photo by Susanne Behnke, Uganda 2003

The three photos in this posting are portraits of Ugandan youth modelling handcrafted jewelry designed by aspiring artists in Germany. The photos were taken to support fund-rasing activities by the Jewels-Juwelen Project for HIV/AIDS orphans in Jinja District, Uganda as described in one of my May 2004 postings (see Archives).

As you can see for yourself, the real jewels are these young people, so proudly and skillfully showing off their amateur modelling skills before the camera.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

The Water Carrier

Young girls with watercan on their way home.
Photo by Susanne Behnke, Uganda 2003

It's difficult to attend school regularly when you are forced to carry water back and forth to your village everyday. The older girl needs to be in school and the two of them should not be out on this road. In this particular photo series by Susanne there are a number of scenes like this one where small children are alone along this stretch of dirt road, sent to fetch fresh water.

I have no details on the children in this photograph other than what we all can see, that the young girl in the dirty blue dress is tired from carrying a half-full container of water down a long and dusty road. She is most likely not in the best of health and the two of them may possibly be fending for themselves or living with relatives too weak or too old to carry water back-and-forth, every single day.

The Long Road to Fresh Water

The road to a community water well in rural southern Uganda.
Photo by Susanne Behnke, Uganda 2003

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Today My Heart is Joyful!

Dancing for Joy in Uganda
Photo by Susanne Behnke, Uganda 2003

Today my heart is full of joy and hope! An important event I have been patiently waiting for in the Sudan, in the region of Darfur, has finally taken place. I can only hope that actions will quickly follow the strong words of warning issued there today.

I have watched two great Sons of Africa, Colin Powell and Kofi Annan, walk on the hard-baked earth of the western Sudan and be with the suffering people there, to see for themselves and meet face-to-face with the survivors of the atrocities committed there, to witness what international journalists and aid workers and others around the world have been crying out about so loudly and urgently. Genocide!

I watched Powell, who I personally regard with admiration and pride as a great leader, fight back tears as he was finally able to approach the crowds of cheering children and adults in that desolate desert, greeting him with joy and hope in their eyes and with smiles on their beautiful little black faces_____and I knew what Powell was feeling in his heart at that moment and I could not hold back my own tears as I watched them on CNNI today.

And I remembered my stern words to a group of Ugandans visiting Europe almost one year ago, that "...we see you and hear your cries for help, that we know of the crimes and atrocities which have been and are being committed against you by very evil people and many of us can no longer remain silent and frozen in our fear and in our shame."

"...That we are coming, in ways that you could never imagine and in numbers which you alone cannot count, to stand with you and help you defeat this evil we all see so clearly. To help you stand tall and proud again and to achieve freedom and a bright and secure future for yourselves and your children and your countries."

I know that friends in Jinja will remember those words I spoke long ago today, and begin to finally understand what I meant then, that we with the power to affect change mean business down on the continent of Africa____ so help me God!

In solidarity with the suffering peoples and victims of unspeakable violence in Northern Uganda, in the Sudan, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and all corners of Afirca.