The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


‘Spotlight on Darfur’ sheds light on crisis

Students, faculty and visitors filtered into the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theatre Wednesday night for “Spotlight on Darfur,” an event composed of visual images and real-life accounts of the Sudanese civil war in recent years.

According to a video shown to audience members, rebel groups attacked Sudan’s government in the city of El Fasher roughly two years ago. Since then, Sudanese forces have used kidnappings, hit and run attacks and air bombings to guard against such rebels.

While doing this, however, the video explained that thousands of innocent civilians have been killed by government forces, with millions more being displaced by the attacks each year. Many of those affected by the government’s actions are blacks living in southern Sudan, described by some as, “where black Africa meets the Arab world.”

Some, such as Sudan Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismael, call these deaths an unfortunate result of the government’s counter-insurgency campaign; others, however, call it genocide.

History professor Rick Halperin, who also serves as chair of the Amnesty International USA Board of Directors, spoke at the event and said some form of inequality against blacks in southern Sudan has been going on since the 1970s.

“The fact that the United Nations has not recognized this as genocide is pretty terrible,” he said, adding that this year has seen the city of Darfur become a place of heavily centralized death and displacement.

According to Halperin, the Janjaweed, a military division of the government, has carried out executions, rapes and a long list of crimes against women and human rights defenders in Darfur.

Caesar Ricci, who has been actively involved with the Sudanese Refugee Committee for a number of years, said black Africans in Darfur are being targeted because of their race.

“These people are living as third-grade citizens in their own land,” he said.

Ricci’s presentation quoted a U.N. representative on the situation in Darfur: “This is ethnic cleansing, this is the world’s greatest humanitarian crisis, and I don’t know why the world is not doing more about it.”

In addition, when former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell recently visited the region, he said, “Genocide has been committed in Darfur and that the government of Sudan and the Janjaweed bear responsibility.”

To some in Sudan, what has been more disheartening than the government’s actions is the lack of aid offered by nations like the United States.

“People in Sudan place much hope in the U.S. to stop this madness,” Ricci said. “We have the political and economic power to stop this – we have to stop ignoring this.”

Madhavan Rajagopalan, a 2004 graduate of the University of Texas in Austin, said, “We are one human family and are all, essentially, interrelated and interlinked either directly or indirectly. So, as our natural duty, we need to not only care for our neighbors next door but our neighbors across the seas.”

Rajagopalan reminds students that, “it just takes one call or one letter from one person to our representatives to make an impact.”

“Passivity is no longer an option,” he continued, “especially when the number victimized are staggering.”

Halperin, reflecting on similar conditions in Rwanda over a decade ago, said, “[G]enocide is occurring again in Africa, and it’s on your watch if you’re part of this generation.

“It’s easy to dismiss this as something terrible,” he said, “but I hope we will do our duty as human beings to act.”

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