SUDAN WATCH: Gerard Prunier: Darfur is not genocide. Jim 'Second Superpower' Moore put the spotlight on Sudan's Darfur

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Gerard Prunier: Darfur is not genocide. Jim 'Second Superpower' Moore put the spotlight on Sudan's Darfur

July 28, 2006 Genocide Intervention Network news round-up [via CFD]. Excerpt:
Harper's Magazine printed an article in which Gerard Prunier, author of Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide, suggests that too much emphasis is put on the question of whether or not a conflict is "genocide." Darfur was largely ignored until journalists began to paint it as a genocide, says Prunier, and the use of the word has neither increased understanding of the crisis in Darfur nor spurred significant action to end it. Darfur is not necessarily a genocide by his definition, Prunier notes, but he believes that "it is a measure of the cynicism of our times that we appear to think the killing of 250,000 people in a genocide more deserving of our attention than that of 250,000 people in nongenocidal massacres."
Note, from what I have gathered since April 2004, Darfur was largely ignored by journalists and mainstream media until Western activisits and bloggers began putting the spotlight on Darfur, painting it as genocide and demanding action from their political representatives.

Jim 'Second Superpower' Moore put the spotlight on Darfur Sudan

Dr James Moore

Photo: Dr James Moore - one of America's top bloggers - put the world's spotlight on Darfur, Sudan

In August 2005, I wrote the following draft and am publishing it here now for future reference:

Recently, Jim Moore linked to a collection of photos here at Sudan Watch, along with a collection of essays on Darfur, written by activist bloggers around the world. In his blog entry entitled Blogging Darfur, Jim says he thinks we failed to stop genocide in Darfur. Here is a note to Jim which will make him feel embarrassed because he is so modest.

Sorry to disagree Jim. You have deleted the first seven months of your archives at Passion of the Present but I have not deleted mine from sixteen months ago, when you first blogged Darfur. One day, I shall plough through it all and show why I know it is you who put the spotlight on Darfur resulting in the unprecendented visit of Kofi Annan and Colin Powell to Khartoum followed by Tony Blair's (the first visit by a British Prime Minister in over 50 years).

Very few people, if any, other than Joanne and Jim Moore, will know what I am really talking about here, or what I mean by pointing out Jan Egeland's statement made September 28, 2005:
Jan Egeland, UN Switzerland

Photo: UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland gestures as he explains that escalating violence in Darfur is threatening to halt aid work as increasing numbers of international staff come under attack, during a press conference at the UN headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Sep 28, 2005.

'If it continues to escalate, if it continues to be so dangerous on humanitarian work, we may not be able to sustain our operation for 2.5 million people requiring lifesaving assistance,' Egeland tells reporters. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
Here is the important part of his message - at the press conference Jan Egeland said:
"We need to have the same kind of pressure on the parties as we had last summer when world leaders really, really put their thumb and their pressure on the Government of Khartoum." Mr Egeland said he no longer felt the same kind of pressure.
Some people such as Eric Reeves, and a blogger or two, published news on Darfur prior to April 2004 but, I know for a fact, sporadic news reports on Darfur went from a handful every few weeks to thousands, seemingly overnight, until the world's spotlight shone so brightly on the Khartoum that the regime there admitted (I shall find the reports one day) they did not know what had hit them, or why. I know why. It was all down to Jim Moore's herculean effort to get unimpeded access for aid into Darfur simply through relentless blogging, linking and connecting, day and night, spreading the word to others all over the world. I doubt anyone can dispute what I am saying here. I saw it with my own eyes and logged some evidence but, unfortunately, do not have the energy to stop and spend months putting it all together in one summary. Maybe one day ...

Meanwhile, here's sending Jim and Joanne much love and huge thanks for everything they did for the people of Darfur.
- - -

Copy of something I had drafted earlier, in March 2005:

Since last April, Jim Moore has given his all putting to good use the technology we bloggers have at our fingertips by highlighting the plight of the Sudanese -- getting word out in the blogosphere for us global citizens here in cyberspace to have a unique opportunity to make a difference -- to use blogging technology to see if it is within our power to make a real difference, get politically aware and involved, learn about Africa, activism and help stop genocide in Darfur.

As far as I am aware, Jim was the first blogger to sound the genocide alert on Darfur (and stay with it all the way every day) before even the US government declared Darfur as genocide. Who knows, Jim could have chosen Somalia or some other hotspot but it was Darfur thanks to he and Joanne and her idea for starting up http://passionofthepresent.org

Jim expended a great deal of effort and spent thousands of hours blogging, connecting, reading, writing, tracking, linking, phoning, emailing and rallying people to bring Darfur to the attention of mainstream media and governments around the world - all at a time when news reports were few and far between. To be blunt, considering now connected we all are, not a lot of bloggers wanted to know. [As an aside, it took a British blogger who works at the BBC to push Darfur up the agenda at BBC News online. This, I know for a fact, was a result of Jim's efforts at a time when there was no political will, very little aid on the scene and the Darfur death toll was reported at 10,000.

Various Sudan experts now put the death toll at 200,000 - 450,000 and rising. Last week, a British government official was reported as saying the crisis in Darfur would continue for another 18-24 months. So, given that bodies like WHO say up to 10,000 refugees in the camps are dying each month from malnutrition or disease, one can't help wondering, if the situation does not improve, that the best case scenario may be a further 240,000 deaths - through non-violence alone - over the next 24 months, on top of the two million Sudanese people who perished in southern Sudan under the present regime in Khartoum.

Over the past year, Jim left no stone unturned in publicising Darfur and use of the tools and technology that we - who enjoy freedom of speech and do not live under dictatorships - have at our fingertips to stop genocide. I have no doubts whatsoever that Jim's efforts generated and maintained a cascade effect on bloggers and mainstream media throughout the world - right up to America's presidential election - bringing Darfur higher onto the daily agendas of the media, politicians and both President Bush and Senator Kerry during their face to face televised debates.

Also, I believe Jim's efforts spawned an effect here in Europe that brought Darfur higher up on the agendas of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and other leading politicians. Unfortunately, I do not have evidence to prove this. I only know what I have seen and absorbed since I started tracking blogs and almost every other item online relating to Darfur.

Last year, I exchanged emails with David Sifry, CEO of Technorati, who offered his technicians to look into Technorati's databases to see if it would be possible to piece together some evidence that blogging technology put - and kept - the spotlight on Darfur. Who knows if the data is still out there somewhere.

Bearing in mind that blogging genocide is dismal, gruelling and emotionally draining, Jim blogged eloquent daily alerts of genocide occurring and reminders to us all how it could be within our grasp to make a difference. I witnessed how long it took for bloggers to spare a few column inches for Darfur. Influential blogs, academics and the wired Joi Ito's of the world stayed pretty silent most of the time - except InstaPundit who was brilliant. For Jim, most of the time, it must have seemed like climbing the sheer face of the Eiger with a sack of rocks on his back getting even just a few bloggers to make an effort and spread the word to put pressure on politicians to take action to provide unimpeded access for humanitarian aid into Darfur. The Michael Jackson court case received far more publicity.

By July 2004, when the pressure had built, the so-called "key players" in the Darfur catastrophe said they were taken aback at the sudden but inexplicable media attention on Darfur, finding themselves in the glare of a spotlight. It caught them by surprise. They could give no explanation, were caught out, and admitted they had been too slow to respond with aid. Not to mention the historic visits to Khartoum by Kofi Annan, Colin Powell and Tony Blair. Why Darfur? Why not the DR Congo or Northern Uganda? asked the stunned officials, aid agencies, and the bewildered regime in Khartoum. News reports out yesterday revealed aid agency surprise at why Darfur in western Sudan attracts donations but southern Sudan does not.

For the past eleven months I have read every word Jim has written on Darfur both in his journal and at http://passionofthepresent.org. Jim was probably the only blogger in the world to post daily on the news and bring together links, contacts, people and news from human rights bodies worldwide.

If only there were more bloggers like Jim, putting blogs and the technology we are using right now to good use. He deserves to be applauded for putting the heat on us all, including the UN, to stop 'genocide' in Darfur.

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