Monday, October 6, 2008

Who Killed the Suleia School Girls?

Who Killed the Suleia School Girls?

On July 3rd, 2004, three school girls, eight years old, were shackled in iron cuffs, lashed to trees and burned alive in Suleia. The frantic cries of their helpless parents could be heard throughout the town. Although arrest warrants have been issued on several persons in connection with the murders, no one has been arrested and who is ultimately accountable for such heinous acts is not entirely clear.
Suleia was once a peaceful town whose residents grew crops and tended their livestock. The crater at the highest point of the nearby mountains was a popular destination for tourists, who, until the attack, were the only foreigners usually seen in this area. But early that morning of July 3, while still dark, townspeople heard planes approach. Soon bombs rained down. Soon men in vehicles and on horseback arrived, looted the market, burned the homes and shot the men they could find. The women they raped. The school girls were burned alive to draw their parents from hiding, to terrorize the residents into leaving their land and, according to a few survivors, because they were “too dark.”
If you’re beginning to suspect these murders didn’t happen in America, you’re right. They occurred in the Darfur region of Sudan. But how many readers would have read this far if they’d known it was another story about that genocide against the black indigenous people of Darfur that seems to be dragging on for years?
Whether this occurred in Iowa or in the midst of an ethnic cleansing on the other side of the world, the question remains, who killed the Suleia school girls?
At times the answer can seem complex and unclear. Politics, religion, and ethnic cleansing. Oil. But what is clear is that genocide is evil and that the situation Darfur is the consequence of hatred for the black indigenous Africans and the greed for oil under their lands. What is clear is that three little girls don’t have a chance against global powers and businesses. What is clear is that not enough people care to make it stop and that we are all perpetrators and bystanders until it does stop. What is clear is that as a global community we are all responsible for the safety and lives of school girls everywhere.

You can do something. Let your voice be heard. Give one minute to the children of Darfur. We are a representative government. Log on to and see what your representative is doing. Send them a note if you are not happy with their performance or thank them if you are.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Day at the Park

Two rhinoceros lie nose to nose. “That’s Nola and Angalifu,” says our tour director. “They are the only two Northern White rhinos in the western hemisphere. There are only four others left in the world and they are in Czechoslovakia.”
What? Just a couple of years ago the Northern Whites were rebounding, even some thirty or so in the wild.
“Nola here isn’t fertile and Angalifu is the last known male left. Poaching and war have decimated the wild population in Central African Republic, Congo and Sudan.”
Sudan. More bad news from that country. Some refer to the situation there as a civil war, but for the past 25 years the Sudanese government has been driving the black indigenous population from their resource and oil rich lands. Antenov bombers and helicopter gunships against farmers and cattle-keepers. In the first twenty years they killed over two million people and made another five million homeless. The most recent and well-known extension of this ethnic cleansing has been in the western region of Darfur where at least another 300,000 have died and the killing and suffering continue. Some of the most unspeakable atrocities have been committed by the adjacent tribes hired and armed by the government to finish off the survivors and occupy the villages.
I read a few weeks earlier that the Janjaweed, the militias hired by the Sudanese Government, were poaching exotic animals to get money to buy weapons to further wage genocide upon the Darfurian people. It’s unfathomable what the Sudanese Government is capable of doing in order to avoid sharing oil and other resource revenues. Unspeakable atrocities have been waged upon the black indigenous people. To help fund the slaughter of men, women and children the Janjaweed venture into Garamba National Park in northern Congo where they have killed thousands of elephants, removed their tusks removed and left their carcasses to rot. It’s in this way that the entire population of wild Northern Wild White rhinos has been decimated as well.
Killing an endangered, now soon to be extinct, species to fund the genocide of an endangered group of people. I’ve been told by Southern Sudanese that herds of wild animals would be driven onto the mine fields that pepper Sudan. Their sacrifice was an easy way to clear out the mines.
This isn’t the 1940’s in Eastern Europe or the 1980’s in Southern Sudan, we can’t still say we have no idea what was happening. Technology and globalization have connected us all in complex ways. We must be conscious of and responsible for the consequences of our inter-connectedness, even that with Northern White Rhinos.
Killing endangered animals to fund killing children. Where is the outrage? How evil must it get for us to say “this has to stop.”

Take action: Go to How is your representative voting on Darfur issues? A “C” grade? Write them a note and tell them how important it is to you. An “A+”? Thank them.

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