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Petitions started to intervene in Darfur

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  • 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.
    [url][/url] - [COLOR="Red"]Armenian[/COLOR] [COLOR="Blue"]Genealogy[/COLOR] [COLOR="Orange"]Forum[/COLOR]