A Thousand Words (Just not "Genocide")
All of this has come up repeatedly recently because of the enduring crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan. The leaders of the nations in the UN Security Council can agree time and again to talk about how awful it is that nearly 200,000 people have been starved to death or murdered in a conflict that has all the hallmarks of an organized attempt at committing genocide, but they just can't bring themselves to call it that. Calling it genocide means they'll have to stop it.
In the face of this cowardice, there's evidence that not only are the crimes that comprise genocide being commited in Sudan, but also that the Sudanese government, despite its claims to the contrary, is participating in the conflict. What evidence? The drawings of children:
From today's New York Times
Of course it's possible the children were drawing helicopters from memory in other contexts (movies or whatever), but most of the imagery in the collected drawings is pretty specific to this conflict:
Human Rights Watch workers gave crayons and paper to children in seven refugee camps along Darfur's border with Chad to keep them occupied as they interviewed their parents about the ethnic violence and starvation that has engulfed hundreds of villages in Darfur, said a Human Rights Watch researcher, Dr. Annie Sparrow.
"When I first started collecting them they were so shocking," Dr. Sparrow said of the drawings. "It's not just that the children are scarred and traumatized by awful atrocities but the way they're devising this unique visual vocabulary that corroborates all the testimony we've taken from adults.
"These are not generic guns that a 10-year-old boy would draw but guns they've actually seen," said Dr. Sparrow, who is a pediatrician. "I sat down with a weapons expert who identified what the weapons were."
Dr. Sparrow also contends that the details in the drawings provide more evidence of the involvement of the Sudan government.
"The government of Sudan has repeatedly denied being involved in the crisis, but the janjaweed only have guns and horse and camels," she said. "It's the government of Sudan that has the weapons of war."
But judge for yourself. An exhibition of these drawings, all by children aged 8 to 17, is touring. "The Smallest Witnesses: The Conflict in Darfur Through Children's Eyes," will be on display through September 6 at the Edgar M. Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at New York University (7 East 10th Street) (although the center doesn't yet have this exhibition on their website). It will then travel to Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto, Hamburg and Munich.