We Can Save Darfur Right From Our Living Rooms
Or, at least we can start there.
I don't deal with politics on my blog, but the situation in the Darfur region of Sudan is beyond politics and I think it's time for more regular folks like myself to make some noise about the first true genocide of the 21st century.
I've been keeping my eye on it through the news and various blogs and web sites and lately, the issue finally seems to be gaining some traction. This Sunday, April 30th, there will be a Rally to Stop Genocide in Washington D.C. (and across the country) to draw increased attention to the tragedy in Darfur. In D.C., the rally will be between 2 pm and 4pm in front of the Capital.
Senator Barack Obama and George Clooney held a press conference at the National Press Club yesterday, along with Sam Brownback, the Republican senator who has been working with Obama on this issue. Clooney mentioned an interesting exchange he had with a little Sudanese girl who came to check on him after he became ill after eating some goat. She asked the Oscar winner when he was going to "come back and stop the violence." He told her, "Soon," and she laughed and said, "That's what you always say." I wonder where that little girl is right now.
There are several resources regarding Darfur on Obama's official Senate website and he has devoted several podcasts and blog posts to it as well. One of the sites listed is for the International Crisis Group, which describes itself as an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization with staff on over five continents. They have a list of practical steps that regular people like us can take including:
1. Contact your elected representative - You can write a letter or email the President, your Congress person or Senator. They didn't suggest it on their site, but I don't think it would hurt to drop Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a line. If you live outside of the United States, here's the international contact list. And here's another link with a ready-made note to President Bush.
2. Write to your newspaper - You can write a letter to the editor urging your support for increased international pressure in Darfur (not to mention more news coverage.) Once again, the ICG is ready with a list of international newspapers, complete with email addresses.
3. Write a blog post about Darfur - You can post something on your own blog of course, and you can comment on other blogs talking about Darfur, especially widely read political ones. Of course, several bloggers have been on this for a while. Here's a particularly trenchant post by a blogger that calls himself Field Negro on Black Americans and our response (or rather the lack thereof) on Sudan.
The key is to increase the pressure and continually gain heat for this issue. If it takes George Clooney and a little Hollywood to help, then so be it. However, it should be noted that even before the senators and Clooney became involved, there were others working on the issue, including Sudanese model Alek Wek, of the Dinka tribe, who fled her country as a teenager. She has been doing her part, for several years now, to draw attention to not only the atrocities that have been taking place, but also to the practical and medical needs of the people. She has also been working with Doctors Without Borders on Sudan related programs. Here is an interesting profile of Alek being interviewed by Iman from Iman's website.
I'm shocked that there is no rally in New York this weekend (although I'll bet anything somebody will be doing something in Union Square.) Dining for Darfur is going on though. Here's a list of participating restaurants.
Labels: Barack Obama