Wednesday, December 15, 2004

John Fitzgerald reports on candlelight vigil in NYC for Darfur, Sudan

Warmest thanks to American blogger John Fitzgerald of Secession for attending the candlelight vigil in NYC on Monday and for posting this write-up to share with readers at Sudan Watch and the Passion. John is a trainee lawyer living in New York and is such a fine writer, he would make a great journalist.

John made a super effort to take photos of the vigil but sadly a technical hitch made it not possible to publish them here. Thanks for trying John, and for the following report:

Vigil for Sudan

One of the speakers at a candlelight vigil for Sudan last night in Washington Square was Simon Day, a former slave. That in the twenty-first century a man could be introduced as a “former slave” is a sad commentary on humanity in general, and a particular indictment of certain African regimes, principally in Sudan. A hundred or so mostly young people showed up in the bitter cold to convey their solidarity with those suffering the consequences of genocide at the hand of the radical Islamic government in Darfur.

In a dramatic plea, Mr. Day, now living in New York, noted the respect and concern Westerners have for their pets, and begged Western nations to show at least as much humanity toward the people suffering now in Sudan as they show their own dogs. Day seemed to have given up on assistance from the United Nations, and remarking its continued indifference to ongoing African genocide, said that the body would more appropriately be called the “United Racists.”

Other speakers included an individual from Mauritania who, noting that he was not a politician, could therefore “say things as they are,” a refrain he repeated several times. He accused the Sudanese government of trying to Islamic-ize sub-Saharan Africa, and said the attack on black Africans was an “Arab conspiracy to take our African land.” A Jewish rabbi also spoke, invoking the memory of the Holocaust, and saying that Jews in particular could sympathize and understand the current plight of the Sudanese. (I was surprised to see no one in the crowd shout out something about the plight of Palestinians at that comment.)

At the conclusion of the vigil, those in attendance were asked to sign letters to U.S. government officials calling for action against Sudan immediately. Whether that ever comes to pass remains to be seen. “In July and September,” The Economist recently reported, “the UN Security Council threatened unspecified sanctions on the Sudanese government if it failed to disarm its genocidal militias in Darfur. The government did nothing of the sort, but no sanctions followed. Last week, the Security Council issued a new, milder threat, to 'take appropriate action against any party failing to fulfil its commitments.' Carlos Veloso of the WFP, asked if the forecast of 2.8m starving Darfuris next year was a worst-case scenario, said: 'No, that is the medium-case scenario.'”
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Note, says thank you to everyone who made the candlelight vigil to protest the ongoing genocide in Darfur a success! Save the date: Monday, January 17th, 2005 Protest Rally. Register for the rally at


Mayflower said...

I don't know if you've seen this article yet, but its absolutely haunting.

I'm still not convinced the primary reason the violence in Darfur is occurring isn't due to the agricultural needs of Arab pastoralists, but articles like this certainly establish that primordial forces are at play.

I'm wondering if you accept the notion of Darfur as "agrocide" and not genocide?

Regards- Christopher

Ingrid J. Jones said...

Hello Christopher, No doubt you have seen the definition of genocide. Sorry I am not sure what you mean by agrocide. I have googled for the term and found it is a trade name of Lindane an Organochlorine which is something to do with cancer.

I wish I kept tabs on the various posts that explain genocide in Darfur. Sorry I can't point to them here right now. Without question crimes against humanity are definitely occurring in Darfur. Rwanda in slow motion.

Genocide in Bosnia happened ten years ago just a few hours plane ride from England. The leader responsible is still at The Hague arguing his case that it wasn't genocide. I hope Bashir and Taha in Khartoum, along with the leaders of the Janjaweed, are brought to trial at The Hague.

With respect to the new nternational Crime Court (ICC) the US is listed among several rogue states as refusing to sign up as it fears being subjected by the Court. The US seems to take pride calling Darfur a genocide and shouting the loudest about genocide in Darfur but refuses to do anything about it or heal relations with the U.N. Seems the US is against EU deploying rapid response battalions to go to places like Darfur within 10-15 days. When it comes to Africa, the UN and EU, American policy and the views of Democrats and Republicans (politicians and bloggers alike) sure are confusing to me.

Mayflower said...

"Agrocide" is a term I coined a few weeks ago. I define it as the murder of a large number of people for the sake of cultivating land resources. That essentially describes what is going on in Darfur.

Essentially, I'm bothered by the use of the term "genocide" to describe what is happening in Darfur. Genocide, essentially, is a "hate crime" on a large scale. For a genocide to take place, the motivation for the killing has to be the elimination of an ethno-religious community. But violence in Darfur is about the changing dimensions of the Sahara desert and the scarcity of agriculturally subsistant land.

Calling what is going on in Darfur "genocide" perpetuates the stereotype that what is taking place there is just Arabs killing black people. If we believe the confict is an intractable "product of history," then we're more likely to do nothing about it because we won't believe there is any solution. If, however, we see it for the land grab that it is, solving the problem becomes more plausible.