May 7, 2006

Can You Escape the Janjaweed?

Posted in Human Rights, Sudan at 1:55 am by greatparanoiac

Nicholas Kristoff has an op-ed in yesterday’s NYT called the Heroes of Darfur. It’a nice piece on what ordinary and famous people have done to raise awareness about Darfur. One interesting note–he says CBS Evening News dedicated two minutes of air-time to the conflict in 2005. Wow! With so many obligations to Viacom and their sponsors, I’m surprised they had the two minutes to spare.

The op-ed is in the Times Select section (silly NYT…to make $50 upfront they block their best writers from reaching a wider audience and having the impact a paper of record is suppose to have), so I can’t link or copy-paste it. But I can direct you to read the op-ed via blogger The Unknown Candidate who has disregarded the copyright. Good for him! Access to knowledge should be free.

Just to show you the power of interactive media and using it to educate young people. In his article Kristoff mentions Darfur is Dying a video game conceived by activists at UC-Berkeley and produced by MTV university as a part of its Sudan resource center. In the game, you can choose to be a Darfuri character and it simulates what it’s like for a person living under hostile conditions. I think you have to download Flash to open it.

It feels a bit strange at first, using your arrow keys to make a young girl retrieve water from a well while she’s being pursued by the Janjaweed. But it’s effective in how it engages people and help them understand a conflict from which they are so far removed. 

 western aid.jpg

In regards to global commitment to stopping the genocide in Darfur…Right of Center had this critique to make about Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay congratulating the Sudanese government on the accord and patting himself on the back too. It’s an excellent point to behavior that is mirrored in the G-8 countries:

” Funny, the AU has never mentioned Peter MacKay’s involvement in the peace agreement recently signed. But what about the $250M given to Darfur?” says the loyal [Progressive Conservative Party] supporter. In reality $250 million is nothing in terms of international and/or humanitarian aid. It’s a drop in the bucket for many governments, especially for Canada with her surplus’. Oh, and let’s not forget the extremely generous donation of $40M to non-government agencies working within Darfur. Oops, I meant to say $40 million since 2003. Drops in the bucket from one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Our “commitment” is anything but, and both Liberal & CPC governments are to blame for this laughable attempt at helping those who are dying every day.”

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