Student feel Americans are oblivious to Sudan crisis

Tabitha Scott

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When I think of my small hometown of Stuttgart, Ark. the feeling of community comes to mind. Brown legs jumping double Dutch with an assortment of ponytails assembled at the beginnings of colorful burettes. White smiles across chap-sticked lips and sticky pickle coolcup fingers twirling ropes that clap the pavement to the beat of “Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack.”

Ten-speed bicycles, zipping and zapping on unlined streets, skillfully dodging occasional traffic. Muddy boots and rough hands at work in front yards while tea is served in octagon shaped plastic cups for gossiping company that gives advice one can only understand with time. Community in the sense of kinship, likeness, identity: the invisible cord linking us to our neighbors tying us to our last names and nudging us home on holidays.

In this country our communities are protected by the structure of government we have set in place and the brave men and women that fight daily and give up their lives in order to provide us with a since of security as Americans. In many countries that security is nonexistent and the fabric of communities such as the one I grew up in are rent with violence and war to the point that it becomes a crisis to humanity under the radar of those who live without knowing that people are dying.

According to Amnesty International (AI), the country of Sudan has been the site of conflict that has escalated into war and genocide since February 2003. The focus of the terror is Darfur. Sudan is the largest country in Africa, and Darfur sits northeast on the country neighboring Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, The Dominican Republic, Central African Republic, Chad and Egypt.

AI reported, “of the 6.5 million people living in Darfur, at least 2.8 million have been directly affected by the ongoing violence and tens of thousands of people have lost their lives”. There have always been tensions in Darfur between the village farmers and the itinerant people but the tensions have burst into a war leaving lost lives in the balance.

AI said “that the government of Sudan, exploiting the tensions in the region gave free rein to Arab militias called the Janjawid or armed men on horses to attack villages of farmers.”

The Janjawid AI discovered that the Janjawid have set 44 percent of villages ablaze, they use the rape of women and girls as “a weapon of war.”

According to The Associated Press (AP), the Janjawid have been responsible for more than 200,000 deaths since 2003; and the tolls are rising.

Many of the Darfurians leave their homes behind and make it to safe camps near Chad. Despite many humanitarian efforts there is little food and water inside the camps. Darfurians must leave the confines of safety in order to obtain water and other needed supplies for their refugee families.

In the midst of many journeys to attain water, many women are brutally raped and sometimes disfigured. Males are strongly discouraged from exiting camp. To be discovered by the militia means death for a male, whereas for women, if discovered, will be raped, but there is more of a chance of survival.

AP reported last Thursday that one of the largest safe camps is Kalma, which is home to as many as 100,000 refugees; and in recent weeks there has been a sharp rise in the amount of rapes, attacks on aid workers and other violence.

AP also said, “International pressure is mounting to let the U.N. mission into the country to resolve the crisis.” Some believe that the peace treaty signed by the Sudanese government and the main Darfur rebel group only unleashed more violence, creating more than 50,000 new refugees in the past few weeks.

For the millions of refugees in Darfur a sense of community may never be completely restored. According to Physicians for Human Rights, the livelihood of many Darfurians has been destroyed.

In Darfur livestock measures wealth; and much of the land maintained by the farmers has been passed down for generations.

In the latter part of 2003 farms were destroyed and animals were killed, destroying not only the source of wealth, but also the source of food for many families. Now driven from their land with only their lives, many of the refugees have no community to go home to.

Last week in one of my English survey classes, my professor handed out an essay by Immanuel Kant called “An Answer to the Question ‘What is Enlightenment.'” Kant basically said that we live in a society where people live much of their lives as a minority or as a child because-more often than not-we do not think for ourselves.

In Kant’s opinion one could be as old as dirt and still a minority if he or she cannot think without the help of anyone else. He suggested that living as a real adult means being able to evaluate the world for ourselves in a way that is not harmful to the society in which we live.

In his essay Kant sums up the purpose of college: to form a freethinking opinion about your own beliefs, thoughts and values. It is not enough as a non-minority to rely on the answer “Because that is the way I was raised” or “My mama said so…”

Here in America it is so easy to allow everyone else the ability to think for us.

There are commercials on TV that tell us what shampoo to buy, what kinds of cars to drive and even some “helpful” media that even dictates beauty. In a world such as ours it is difficult to pull away and become a non-minority, but it must be done.

There are things that are happening in the world that will never be shown on national television, and there will never be commercials about them as we are flipping through VH1. But these things are very relevant to the world and things that are happening in the world should affect us.

People like you and I are dying in countries such as Darfur and it makes me sad that so many people have no idea. Enough people to fill The Texas Stadium (Home of the Dallas Cowboys) three times or-ten times the population of Arkadelphia-have lived and died in Darfur since 2003.

Any of the massacred children could have been among those brown legs skipping rope or riding bikes in my old neighborhood.

Darfurians are real people whose eyes are just as brown as my brothers with broad smiles as pretty as my sisters. They are human beings with dignity and a shattered since of community.

It is a crime against humanity for so many people to lose their lives and people not know that they even existed.

The loss of a life in the midst of war is sad but the loss of a life without a sound is even worse, like the passing of a faceless nameless child in the dark.

All of the information and pictures in this article were obtained from Amnesty International, Physicians for Human Rights, and the Associated Press. To find out ways that you can help with the on going humanitarian crisis in Sudan, log on to