Charlotte Hussey, Aislinn Bauer’s mom, took Aislinn and Sarita, the co-founders of RAD:D, to see Hotel Rwanda. The movie opened their eyes to the horrors of genocide. The one thing that upset them most about the Rwandan genocide of 1994 was that the international community did very little to help the people of Rwanda.
After the movie, we read an article in The New York Times called “The Secret Genocide Archive,” by Nicholas Kristof, detailing the situation in Darfur. At the end of the article, he quoted former senator Paul Simon, who said, “If every member of the House and Senate had received 100 letters from people back home saying we had to do something about Rwanda, when the crisis was first developing, then I think the response would be different.” After reading this, we thought that if that could have worked during the Rwanda genocide then it could work for the genocide in Darfur. That is when we decided to would start a letter writing campaign to help end the genocide in Darfur.
Where is Darfur? Darfur is located in the western region of Sudan Sudan is the largest country in Africa. The Darfur region alone is about the size of Texas.
Genocide is the systematic and planned killing of an entire national, racial, political, or ethnic group.
On September 9, 2004 Secretary of State Colin Powell said: “Genocide has been committed in Darfur and that the Government of Sudan and the Janjaweed bear responsibility -- and that genocide may still be occurring.”
June 24 th , 2004, for the first time in its history, the Committee on Conscience of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum declared a “genocide emergency” in the Sudan.
On July 22, 2004 the U.S. Congress passed resolutions declaring Genocide in Darfur, Sudan.
On January 25, 2005, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry declared “government forces and militias conducted indiscriminate attacks, including killing of civilians, torture, enforced disappearances, destruction of villages, rape and other forms of sexual violence, pillaging and forced displacement, throughout Darfur. These acts were conducted on a widespread and systematic basis ... The vast majority of the victims of all of these violations have been from the Fur, Zaghawa, Massalit, Jebel, Aranga and other ‘Black African' tribes.”
About 480,000 innocent civilians have been brutally murdered
More than 203,000 people have been forced from their homes and have fled to refugee camps in neighboring Chad.
The janjaweed have destroyed an estimated 8,000 villages, that’s 80 to 90% of the Darfurian villages.
Over 1.5 million people have been internally displaced.
More than 10,000 people die each month.
As many as 1 million civilians could die in Darfur from lack of food and from disease within coming months
DarfurGenocide.org Co-Director Ricken Patel says that the Sudanese government is also guilty of “genocide by starvation.”
The majority of the victims are from the Fur, Zaghawa, Massalit, Jebel, Aranga and other African tribes.
The Janjaweed raid villages, burn the homes, destroy the crops and food storage, and poison the wells with dead bodies. Survivors from the attacks are unable to return home because their villages are uninhabitable.
“ They’re trying to kill all of the children in order to wipe out the next generation.”
We ran a letter writing campaign at the Princeton Public Library. At first we planned to do it for one weekend only. The response was better than expected, so we scheduled more events. We were there a total of 3 weekends. The library also agreed to let us set up a table at their annual Human Rights Film Festival.
After these efforts, we collected over 1,000 signatures on letters to Congress and President Bush, and close to $400 of un-asked for donations.
Feeling good about having made efforts to raise awareness and bring an end to the genocide, we decided to take things to the next level and get the Princeton community involved in providing humanitarian aid. Aislinn came up with the idea to organize Dance for Darfur: an African Dance Party for Relief. We had a great time raising awareness and about $1,500 for Darfur Humanitarian relief. After the success of the dance, RAD:D, Raising Awareness Destination: Darfur was officially started.
In early-March, 2005 Senators Sam Brownback (KS) and Jon Corzine (NJ) introduced into the Senate the Darfur Accountability Act (S 495). In mid-March, 2005 Representative Donald Payne of New Jersey introduced the Darfur Genocide Accountability Act (HR 1424).
The FY05 Emergency Supplemental bill approved (but has not yet paid) $90.5 million in relief to Darfur ($50 million for the African Union mission in Darfur and $40.5 million for disaster aid)
The sad fact is that the United States spends three times as much EACH WEEK in Iraq (allegedly to free the Iraqi people from an oppressive regime) than it has spent TOTAL in Darfur (where an oppressive regime is killing people TODAY) since the crisis began in February 2003.
The U.N. Security Council has passed several ineffective resolutions. The resolutions, which are all bark and no bite, are repeatedly violated by the Sudanese government.
As of May 2005, the AU had only 1/10 of the 12,000 soldiers it has promised to send to Darfur. Experts believe that an additional 50,000 to 60,000 well equipped international troops will be needed to stop the genocide .
The African Union (AU) currently has 2,500 troops in Sudan. The AU remains grossly under-funded and ineffective. Many more peacekeeping troops are needed in the region.