I urge us all to examine ourselves, and acknowledge that we are all closer to perpetrators than we like to believe. The United Kingdom and United States helped to engineer the genocide, and for decades enthusiastically supported the military dictatorship that came to power through the genocide. We will not have an ethical or constructive relationship with Indonesia (or so many other countries across the global south) going forward, until we acknowledge the crimes of the past, and our collective role in supporting, participating in, and, ultimately, ignoring those crimes.
The Media Monitoring Project began in 2008 and is intended to provide early warning of genocide, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, and serious war crimes by monitoring the domestic news media (newspapers, radio, television and online sources) in at risk countries. It also seeks to inform policy makers, academics, NGO workers and students about what government-owned media in countries at risk tell their people in their own language. In order to get the best understanding of the situation and provide an overall account of what the people on the ground are being told, the project covers both government-owned and privately-owned domestic media. The project assigns a desk officer to each at-risk country and the desk officer produces weekly reports summarising the relevant content from domestic media, providing a weekly snapshot of the information available to citizens in that country.
Data analysis allows us to get rid of the excuse that war is just messy, and sometimes people die. It’s also part of a larger trend. Over the last 25-30 years, Aronson says, civilian casualties have become more important to how we think about the aftermath of war. In order to really understand what happens to civilians you need both the detail provided by witnesses, and a sense of the big picture that comes from statistics.
[Originally posted here on the WITNESS Hub Blog.]
If you watch one thing today, make it this video. And then forward it to 5 people you know. Why? Because it features stark and rare testimony from four alleged perpetrators of the mass atrocities in Darfur, and it needs to be seen as widely as possible.
The men – whose identities are obscured – are former members of the Sudanese military and the Janjaweed militia: one was a senior officer in the Sudan Army Finance, one a high-ranking Janjaweed commander, another a Janjaweed footsoldier, and the last a Sudanese soldier.
The story of the genocide in Darfur is told through their eyes – how they were recruited, how
the activities of the army and the militia were financed, how attacks were organised, and even details of individual attacks.
The IHT has an extended piece on the film and its potential importance here.
Please help to ensure that this film is circulated and seen as widely as possible – to this end the film is available with Arabic subtitles, French subtitles (updated link – 12 Feb 2009) and German subtitles. Here’s the Aegis Trust’s press release giving more details, particularly for members of the media: http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/media/darfur/2009/alert/397/
The Aegis Trust is a UK-based human rights organisation founded in 2000, with a specific mandate to prevent genocide worldwide.