Twelve years ago this April, a Pandora’s Box of unspeakable evil was opened in the country of Rwanda.
Genocide swept the countryside. The scope of brutality boggles the mind; the rate of killing rivaled that of the Nazis. By the time it was over, nearly one million Rwandans were dead—this, in a country of just 8.5 million people. You perhaps saw this dramatized in the gripping movie Hotel Rwanda.
While the words never again linger on the lips of still-grieving Rwandans, just a thousand miles away, genocide continues to ravage the country of Sudan.
Just two years ago, in April 2004, the N’Djamena Ceasefire Agreement called for an end to hostilities in the Darfur region of Sudan. Since then, that ceasefire has been flagrantly violated by the government of Sudan and its proxies, the Janjaweed militia, which have continued to attack and slaughter innocent civilians.
Some 400,000 people made in the image of God have been killed in Darfur and
eastern Chad. Another 200,000 have fled their homes in the past three months.
The chairman of Prison Fellowship Rwanda, Bishop John Rucyahana, has led efforts in Rwanda to bring healing, forgiveness, and reconciliation through Christ to genocide’s perpetrators, survivors, and family members. Listen to what he has to say about what is happening today in Sudan:
It’s a repeat of what happened to Rwanda. You know the genocide in Rwanda happened when the United Nations was just watching. Of course, it is happening at a different level, with a different approach in the Sudan, but still it is a genocide; targeting a particular people in a community, to wipe them out, to disrupt their productivity, to uproot them, to stop them from education, to eliminate them either by a slow or quick death.
When asked what we can do to help, Bishop Rucyahana minces no words: “You can mobilize the people in the world, to speak against them, to condemn them,” he says. "We must condemn what is going on; we must take actions to stop it.” To that, I say, Amen.
In an article in the New York Times, the courageous reporter Nicholas Kristof quotes the late Senator Paul Simon: “If every member of the House and Senate had received 100 letters from people back home saying we have to do something about Rwanda when the crisis was first developing, then I think the response would have been different.” Just think of it—a hundred calls to each senator and congressman.
Well, another April is upon us, and this time we have a “Hotel Darfur” on our hands. But you and I can do something about it. Recently, the House passed the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, calling for immediate action. The Senate has a similar resolution now in committee. If you are horrified by what is going on in Sudan—and you must be—please write or call your senators and the White House today. If you call us here at BreakPoint (1-877-322-5527), we’ll be glad to give you addresses and phone numbers. Also, visit our website for links to information and organizations working to stop the killing.
Let Congress know that you support the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act. With your help, when historians document April 2006 in Africa, perhaps they will tell a story, not of horror, but of redemption.
Please contact your two senators today and urge them to pass the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act. To learn who your senators are and how to contact them, visit http://www.senate.gov/. Contact the White House at 202-456-1111; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
For Further Reading and Information
Learn more about the April 30 Rally for Darfur from the Save Darfur website.
Also visit http://www.darfurgenocide.org/ for more ideas on what you can do.
Nicholas Kristof, “Where Killers Roam, the Poison Spreads,” New York Times, 7 March 2006. (Times Select subscription required.)
Nicholas Kristof, “The Secret Genocide Archive,” New York Times, 23 February 2005.
Elizabeth Rubin, “If Not Peace, Then Justice,” New York Times Magazine, 2 April 2006.
Trudy Rubin, “A Call to Outrage,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 5 March 2006.
BreakPoint Commentary No. 060221, “Never Again: Fighting Genocide in Darfur.”
“The Opportunity,” New Republic, 3 March 2006. (Available to subscribers only.)
Gregory Rodriguez, “Keeping the Faith, Globally,” Los Angeles Times, 26 March 2006.
Allen Hertzke, Freeing God’s Children: An Unlikely Alliance for Global Human Rights (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004).