Chad and the Revenge of Genocide

Nicholas Kristof presents a chilling and
disturbing conversation he had with a wounded 15-year-old Sudanese boy in

A wounded 15-year-old youth in Chad told Nicholas Kristof, columnist for the New York Times, he wishes to kill all Arabs. The boy was wounded by merciless Janjaweed militia. They murdered his father and shot him. They continue to conduct genocide upon Black Africans in the Darfur region of Sudan and now threaten to topple the governments of Chad and the Central African Republic, according to Kristof.

The reaction of the boy is understandable. As the nations of the world debate how to deal with the janjaweed, or ignore their genocidal behavior altogether, the people whom they brutalize and terrorize suffer unspeakable abuse.

The international community has had years to deal with this problem. It’s not new. In fact, conflict between lighter skin Arabs and darker Sudanese has been going on for more than 20 years.

It’s also complicated by differences of culture and religion. Some in the south are animists and many are Christian. Some are sedentary planting peoples while others are herders. Kristof writes of the janjaweed killing animals, for example. This too, has been happening for years. I recall speaking with displaced herders in this region who told me of animals hobbled by the severing of tendons in disputes about access to grazing land and water. This was years ago.

As Kristof notes, the situation has changed by arming the janjaweed with automatic weapons from China. The southerners carry bows and arrows.

As I read Kristof’s column I remembered the “lost boys” who were displaced young men, separated (or orphaned) from their families, wandering from country to country, finding temporary refuge but always forced to move on, often at gunpoint. At one time it was estimated 10,000 young Sudanese were straggling from place to place. They became a community of support to each other and eventually some were assisted by international agencies to migrate to other nations. A few came to the United States.

The continuing inhumanity in this part of the Horn of Africa should compel international peacekeeping, but it hasn’t gotten the decisive action required. Kristof assesses the potential for wider instability in the region and what can happen if it spreads.

Kristof says concerned people can write their representatives in the House and Senate. He also suggests writing the embassies of France and Egypt which could play important roles.

The world cannot claim, as it did when genocide occurred in Rwanda, that we didn’t know. We do know. We have known. We have yet to act. And with each passing day the suffering spreads, the hatred grows, and the desire for revenge festers.

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