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Darfur's tears
by Thanos Kalamidas
2008-08-27 08:55:26
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We all are aware of the Darfur refugee camps and the usual picture coming to mind that is fed by the media: hungry kids and poor mothers, old men and women looking desperate and sometimes uniformed men patrolling behind barbed wire. Hollywood stars and rock megastars have made us a bit more aware of the situation and the media again has often made documentaries following all these megastars inside these camps. But again, it was all pictures of hungry kids and desperate mothers.

And then watching all these on news bulletins, NGO adverts and documentaries with rock stars giving their famous smile to the cameras while embracing kids everyone thinks that the catastrophe is well in the past and what they are doing now is putting the pieces back together with the help of all those and expecting more to come. So how do you feel when finding out that over a hundred government trucks with heavily armed governmental soldiers surrounded the Kalma camp, a place out of hell that hosts something like 100,000 people, and opened fire leaving behind 27 dead and an unaccountable number of wounded. The right word is numb and the most often used excuse, I didn’t know!

That’s the problem, it seems as if nobody knows and that’s why sometimes I feel against the involvement of all those Hollywood and rock megastars. When we see their faces on television surrounded by all these kids we are thinking how good they are and how much we love their records and their films and of course we are too ready to give money to the organization they created to help or to the organization that they represent. And it is fine, the kids need the money and the food and I do believe that all of them have the best intentions but none of them remembers to tell us that nothing, but nothing has finished there.

I’m not going to say anything about the fact that there are a lot of very well organized NGOs with the right knowledge there and all around the world, with the know-how and mainly the logistics to really help these people and another organization with the name of that megastar and him or her as president doesn’t help - on the contrary, it often causes more problems. I’m not going to say anything about the cost of those visits, a cost that could cover a whole camp for months with food and clothes and the excuse …it is from my personal money sounds really pathetic. I’m not going to say anything for the fact that accidentally while they give an interview about the victims of hunger in Sudan most of the reporters ask for their new record or film either. You see, I do believe that these people have the best intentions.

More than two million people – at least that’s the presumed number - have fled the Darfur camps in the last five years and they have done so mostly trying to escape an escalating conflict between the government and the rebels without this meaning that either side is the right one. Actually, after so many years of conflict both sides are guilty for a series of crimes but the government holds the record. And the latest turn is that the government suspecting that the camps have become shelters for the rebels tries to empty them. The only thing is that the governmental forces do not differentiate the rebels from the innocent and they just shoot anything that moves or according to their limited brain can hold a gun. This means even an eight-year-old boy can lose his life.

But this is not the worst yet. The worst part in this dirty war is that it has attracted the worst kind of people, opportunists and criminals who use people’s misery or lack of security and any kind of defense to act crimes like robbery, rape, and murder. That’s the reality the majority of the refugees in those camps have to deal with. That’s the world they have to live into - a really dark world that makes even medieval descriptions of hell look like heaven.

The United Nations could do something, and they could have done it the last five years but politics have been long now the big handicap of the UN and unfortunately the last general secretary of the UN Ki-Moon is all about politics. The irony is that the former secretary Kofi Annan discovered Darfur after the end of his career as the G.S. and demanding nowadays awareness forgetting that it all started during his term as G.S. and that he didn’t do much about it.

In Sudan the actions of the government have eliminated every sense of legality and they have brought in exactly the same level with the rebels, in fact because they are supposed to be the ones who take care of the justice their crimes are even worst and their acts are acts of genocide and crimes against humanity.

These 27 people who got killed the other day from the government troops inside the Kalma camp and the countless wounded are just some of the huge numbers of victims and as long the Sudanese government is able to play all these dirty wars with the rebels without international interference people will die doesn’t matter how many Hollywood stars and rock megastars visit the place or let tears fall in front the cameras.

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Emanuel Paparella2008-08-27 13:23:36
Since Dante’s hell has been alluded to, it is indeed a hard road out of hell as Dante and Virgil journeying through it soon discover. The celebrities of the day which inhabit it have long known from the sign on its entrance “to abandon every hope, you who enter here.” There are levels of celebrity in Dante’s hell: nine to be exact: the lustful, the wrathful, the violent, the slanderers, the gluttons, etc. Each smaller circle represents a more potent form of celebrity. The greatest of these celebrities are the betrayers of country, family, community bereft of all loyalty and decency, found in the most-inner circle of hell where a three-headed Lucifer chews on the three greatest conspirators of all times: Judas, Brutus and Cassius. Dante made sure that they remain immortal celebrities. In our modern frivolous times Dante would perhaps include Madonna and Tom Cruise there while Taylor Hicks and Tila Tequila orbit around them in more cacophonous outer bands. Perhaps they would not be in the most inner-circle, reserved for those who created hell on earth for others, the politicians of Sudan who watch the tragedy unfold and do nothing, but they would surely make the circle reserved for the vain and the hypocrites parading as the champions of the weak and the downtrodden.

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