Petitions started to intervene in Darfur

Arkansas Democrat Gazette, AR
July 10 2005

Petitions started to intervene in Darfur

FAYETTEVILLE – It’s been a year since Samuel Totten looked into the
eyes of refugees from the Darfur region of Sudan.

Still, not a day goes by that he doesn’t think about what he saw.

Totten, a professor of education at the University of Arkansas at
Fayetteville, now is circulating an online petition urging military
intervention by the United Nations to stop what was been described as
genocide in Darfur.

Totten hopes to present the petition by September to members of
Congress, President Bush, U. N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the
U. N. Security Council. Totten expects the petition to be signed by
more than 100 genocide scholars. “I’m not going to stop until the
attacks stop on the [refugee] camps,” Totten said.

The petition requests that the European Union, the African Union and
individual nations deploy 12,000 heavy infantry, logistical,
communications and airborne troops in Sudan.

The document is co-authored by Gregory Stanton, a former State
Department official who leads Genocide Watch, a coalition of 20
humanrights groups coordinating an international campaign to stop
genocide; and Joyce Apsel, an advisory board member for the
International Association of Genocide Scholars.

The language in the petition was unanimously approved last month as a
resolution of the International Association of Genocide Scholars at
the association’s biennial conference in Boca Raton, Fla. “Sam’s
initiative led to this resolution and petition,” Stanton said. “We
hope that it will result in first, consciousnessraising among the
people who read it, and secondly, those who do sign it, will send it
along to leaders who make policy.

” It’s a very forward-leaning petition that calls for active
intervention. ”

Totten said he decided to draft the petition when he remembered late
U.S. Sen. Paul Simon having said in the mid-1990s that the federal
government would have been pressured to act in Rwanda if every member
of Congress would have received 100 letters in support of

He has joined a chorus of human-rights advocates who see echoes in
Darfur of the tribal conflict in Rwanda in 1994, when an estimated
800,000 people were killed.

In Sudan, Arab militia members known as the janjaweed have been
working with the Sudanese government to rid the Darfur region of
black Africans, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell reported to
Congress in September 2004.

Powell told Congress that Sudan’s government is to blame for killing
tens of thousands and uprooting of 1.2 million people who fled across
the border to Chad.

Totten was one of 24 investigators who took part in the Darfur
Atrocities Documentation Project, based in Chad in July 2004. He
interviewed 49 refugees for the project, which documented murders and
rapes against non-Arabs in Darfur.

Powell noted the investigators’ work in his Sept. 9 remarks to the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The U.S. State Department says that genocide is occurring in Darfur.
The designation marked the first time one sovereign nation has
accused another sovereign nation of genocide. The 1948 genocide
convention defines the act of genocide as a calculated effort to
destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group in whole or in

The United Nations passed Resolution 1556 on July 30, 2004, demanding
that the Sudanese government take action to disarm the janjaweed
militia and bring janjaweed leaders to justice. The United States
pledged $299 million in humanitarian aid to Darfur refugees through
fiscal 2005.

But that hasn’t been enough to stop the violence, said Totten, who
served as a co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Genocide, published in
1999. Totten is also cowriting and editing a book about the Darfur
Atrocities Documentation Project with Eric Markusen, a senior
researcher at the Danish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

The janjaweed are now entering Chad and attacking civilian refugee
camps, Totten said.

Totten criticized what he perceives to be indifference by the U.S.
media toward Darfur.

” It’s disheartening. It’s extremely disheartening, “he said.” Unless
it’s on the air and [people] see it in the way they did the
tsunami… it does seem rather ephemeral in people’s minds. They see
it and forget about it. “The coverage just hasn’t been sustained as
it could or should be.”

At UA, Totten teaches curriculum and instruction to aspiring middle-
and high-school teachers. But genocide is his chosen field of study.

Reed Greenwood, dean of the UA College of Education and Health
Professions, said Totten goes “above and beyond” as a professor and
researcher. “He’s probably one of the most hard-working faculty
members we have in the college,” Greenwood said. “It’s been a major
accomplishment and a major achievement to the field, the work he’s
done. He’s established an international reputation.”

Totten is editing a new edition of Century of Genocide, a scholarly
collection of essays accompanied by eyewitness testimonies of

Totten will compose the last essay. His focus will be prevention and
intervention of genocide.

In April, Totten traveled to Armenia for an international conference
on genocide that coincided with the 90 th anniversary of what
Armenians claim was the start of genocide at the hands of the Turkish

Armenians say Turkey’s mass deportation of Armenians during World War
I was part of an organized genocide, beginning in 1915, that killed
1.5 million people. Turkey denies there was any systematic attempt to
kill Armenians.

The conference was held in Yerevan, Armenia’s capital. The
proceedings were broadcast locally on live television, Totten said.
“People in the street would see that you were with the conference and
they would come up and thank you,” Totten said.

Totten was one of a handful of Americans at the conference of 700. He
also took part in a Mass at the Martyrs Church in the Syrian desert,
where many refugees from Armenia ended up after being forced to march
out of their country.

His Holiness Catholicos Aram I, the spiritual leader of the Armenian
Church, led the Mass. “I was moved by how intent people seemed to
hang on to every single word that His Holiness spoke, all of which
dealt with some aspect of the Armenian genocide,” Totten said.

You may also like