Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Ignoring Sudan (Again)

Another local paper asks "Are the media missing yet another genocide?" This time it is the Houston Chronicle.

    The international media don't send reporters to cover genocides, it seems. They cover genocide anniversaries.

    We've just finished a spate of front-page stories, television docu-histories and somber panel discussions on "Why the Media Missed the Story" in Rwanda, pegged to the 10th anniversary of one of the most shocking tragedies of last century, or any century. More than 500,000 people were killed in a small African country in only 100 days, and the world turned away.

    But even as the ink was drying on the latest round of mea culpas, another colossal disaster in Africa was already going unreported.

    Nearly a million people have been displaced from their homes in western Sudan; many have fled into neighboring Chad. They say militias working with the Sudanese government have been attacking villages, ransacking and torching homes, killing and raping civilians. These armed forces are supposedly cracking down on rebel groups based in the Darfur region, but in fact they are targeting the population.

I commend Carroll Bogert for attempting to bring this issue to the table, but she is by no means the first to note the resounding silence it has received. In its October 16, 1999 issue, World Magazine had this to say about international recognition of the crisis:
    Trouble in independent Sudan began in 1983, when the government amended the country's constitution in favor of Islamic law. This meant the ruling Arab north could attempt to enforce the Muslim Sharia code on the entire country. Civil war has ensued, with southern insurgents, known as the Sudan People's Liberation Army, fighting the north to a stalemate, in spite of the government's superior military might and air power. The war is one of attrition, however, and observers say it has become one of the ugliest-and most ignored-this century. More than 1.9 million civilians have died, and 4 million have been displaced or carried off into slavery. Sudan's forces have also specifically targeted Christian sites, bombing churches, Christian hospitals, and those involved in church relief efforts.

    Despite the tragic numbers, few countries have taken a stand against the Sudanese government, and it retains full credentials in the United Nations. Activists in the United States saw how quickly attention was mobilized on Kosovo, a conflict of actually smaller proportions, and have since increased their decibels. "Sudan is absolutely the worst humanitarian situation in the entire world," said Roger Winter, executive director of the U.S. Committee for Refugees, during airstrikes against Kosovo and the subsequent refugee crisis.

Sadly, and reinforcing Ms. Bogert's point, World is one of the few voices in the media that has consistently been speaking up about Sudan. And with a circulation of about 135,000 they are a fraction of that enjoyed by Time and Newsweek, and not quite as large as National Review.

UPDATE: And it gets worse... (Via Instapundit)

UPDATE: Pastorius at CUANAS links to a related article from the Boston Globe. He also has several related posts about the growing Jihad in Africa, including a link to my post below regarding Nigeria.

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