Cary Clack: Cry for help re atrocities in Sudan must not be ignored

San Antonio Express , TX
Aug 11 2004

Cary Clack: Cry for help over atrocities in Sudan must not be ignored

Forty years ago, the name of Kitty Genovese became synonymous with
looking the other way while someone suffered.

In the early morning hours of March 13, 1964, in a middle-class
neighborhood of the New York City borough of Queens, Catherine
“Kitty” Genovese was attacked three times in 32 minutes. The
assailant stalked, raped and stabbed her to death.

During the attacks, Genovese screamed, “Please help me! Please help

A subsequent police investigation revealed that at least 38 people,
in the comfort of their homes, saw or heard the attacks, but no one
came to Genovese’s aid. The one call to the police came after the
murderer had completed his crimes.

Many times, people don’t act in a time of crisis or don’t do anything
to save lives because they’re unaware of the problem. When they are
aware and still do nothing, it can be attributed to physical or moral
cowardice, sheer callousness or the bystander effect, where people
see someone in need but assume someone else will intervene to help.

Doing nothing and assuming someone else will assume responsibility is
a reason why so many crimes flourish in communities throughout this

Doing nothing and assuming someone else will assume responsibility is
a reason why millions of people in countries around the world suffer
with little hope that they will be emancipated from their pain.

In the 20th century and these infant years of the 21st, there have
been many regions of the world that were the Kitty Genoveses of the
international community; places where cries of “Please help me!
Please help me!” went unheeded or were answered inexcusably late by
nations in a position to help.

Whether the Armenian genocide in 1915-1916, the Holocaust of World
War II, Bosnia during the 1990s or the slaughter in Rwanda in 1994,
reaction to the worst of brutalities was slow.

This column space is rarely filled with topics of foreign affairs but
replace the word “foreign” with “human” and it’s appropriate.

What is happening in Darfur, in the western region of the Sudan, has
been called by the United Nations and human rights organizations the
greatest humanitarian crisis of our time and merits at least a few
words of attention.

The word “genocide” has been aptly used to describe the plight of
black Africans at the hands of Arab militias, the “Janjaweed,” who
are supported by the Sudan’s monstrous blood-soaked government.

More than a million people have been driven off their lands, women
and girls are routinely raped, more than 30,000 have died and the
U.S. Agency for International Development says that hunger and
disease will kill an additional 300,000 before the year is done.

A U.N. resolution gives the government until Aug. 30 to disarm the
militias. A Human Rights Watch report out today says the Sudanese
government’s pledge to stop the atrocities isn’t credible.

People in this and other nations can do what besieged Sudanese
farmers cannot, and that’s to appeal to their elected representatives
to do something and to contribute to agencies providing food and

A people’s pain, no matter how close or far away, can’t be ignored.