Saturday, April 30, 2005

Children's Drawings from Darfur, Sudan

Ethan Zuckermann has a super post featuring children's drawings from Darfur. Please read it to view larger images and click into his links for further details. Here are the drawings and captions Ethan published April 29:

In February 2005, Human Rights Watch sent researchers Dr. Annie Sparrow and Olivier Bercault to Chad to talk with refugees who'd fled from the bombings and Janjawid militia attacks in Darfur. A pediatrician, Dr. Sparrow usually gives crayons and paper to children to entertain them while she interviews their parents. When she gave crayons to children who've fled Darfur, the results were harrowing and powerful.

Children’s Drawings from Darfur

Without prompting, the children drew scenes of horse-mounted militiamen riding into villages, large airplanes dropping bombs, and gun-wielding men raping women. The children's drawings are a visual record of the atrocities committed in Darfur that aren't available through any other medium. Human rights workers have received extensive testimony about bombing of villages and rape as a weapon, but these drawings provide visual evidence that international media organizations have not been able to provide, as they've been blocked by the Sudanese government from travelling in Darfur.

Children’s Drawings from Darfur

Realizing the importance of these drawings, Sparrow and Bercault started collecting school notebooks from children in refugee camps. They found in many of them that class notes suddenly gave way to sketches of battlefield scenes, burning huts and the destruction of villages. The two began interviewing children about their drawings:

Leila, Age 9
Human Rights Watch: What is going on here?
Leila: My hut burning after being hit by a bomb.
Human Rights Watch: And here? [Pointing to the drawing of what looks like an upside-down woman]
Leila: It's a woman. She is dead.
Human Rights Watch: Why is her face colored in red?
Leila: Oh, because she has been shot in the face.
Human Rights Watch: What is this vehicle? Who is this in green?
Leila: That is a tank. The man in green is a soldier.

The researchers brought hundreds of drawings back to their offices. When I was at Human Rights Watch a week ago, there was a pile of these sketches on a conference room table, along side a pile of photographs from Janjawid militamen. What amazed me was how details in the children's drawings echoed details from the photos - the stocks of the automatic rifles, the round shape of the houses, the posture of two gunmen riding on horseback. It was immediately clear to me that these drawings weren't of weapons imagined by children, but eye witness accounts.

Children’s Drawings from Darfur

The New York Times will be running some of these pictures in their Sunday magazine, and German television will be featuring the images on a broadcast this weekend. Perhaps these images will help the world pay attention to the ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity taking place in Darfur and the refugee camps in Chad.

[Great Ethan. Thanks. God bless. - sorry I had to post the same images - couldn't get flickr to reduce size of others at HRW]

See more at Human Rights Watch - Darfur Drawn: The Conflict in Darfur Through Children's Eyes.

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1 comment:

CV Brown said...

What can I say? No child should be witness to this monstrosity. To be utterly stripped of all hope, all sense of security and dignity is more than any human should have to bear, especially a child. These images should be broadcast in every country, in every seat of government, so that the world will be aware of what has taken place here.