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Stop the genocide

Dear Editor:We claim to regret not taking action in time to stop the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. What is our excuse now as the government-supported militia of Sudan continues to systematically kill, terrorize and burn 1.2 million people out of their villages; rape and brand women and girls; destroy agriculture, livestock and food supplies; poison water sources; and limit humanitarian aid access already hampered by the seasonal rains?After visiting Darfur, James Morris, head of the World Food Program, recalled, “I have never in my life seen people more frightened. The way they’ve been victimized, brutalized, raped and treated in the most inhumane way possible is extraordinary.”According to the U.S. Agency for International Development, “The grave situation that has unfolded in Sudan’s western region of Darfur in recent months is the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today.” The U.S. Congress has declared the killings to be genocide and for the first time in its history, the Committee on Conscience of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has declared a “genocide emergency.”I do not need to wait for the Bush administration and the United Nations to establish a legal determination of “genocide” to know what is happening in Darfur and to know that immediate action is required to end the violence and suffering. We are not helpless, the victims are not hopeless and this genocide is both deliberate and preventable.We can learn more about and join the efforts of the Save Darfur Coalition at http://www.savedarfur.org/.We can write letters to government leaders (including President Bush), local papers and everyone on our e-mail lists, calling attention to this humanitarian crisis.We can organize, participate in and/or support demonstrations and candlelight vigils in our communities, at the Sudan Embassy in Washington, D.C., and Sudan Mission and/or United Nations in New York City.We can make contributions to humanitarian organizations that are providing aid to the people of Darfur at http://www.interaction.org/.We can identify groups and religious communities with whom we can work to raise public awareness and take action together.We can invite humanitarian experts who are working in the region to present at religious and civic institutions, community groups, and college campuses; and send an e-mail to dayofconscience@savedarfur.org for suggested speakers.We can stand in solidarity and honor the “Sudan: Day of Conscience” at the Truth and Peace Convention and Barbecue on Sunday, Aug. 29, from 17 p.m. in Glenwood Springs’ Sayre Park.We can wear a green ribbon in memory of the dead and in support of the 2 million innocent people still at risk from militia attacks and lack of shelter, food, water, sanitation and medical treatment.We can ask that our local governments adopt a proclamation on the crisis in Sudan calling upon the United States and the United Nations, as leaders of the international community, to immediately intervene to stop the killing, the rape, and the destruction of villages, and to assure that humanitarian relief reaches all those in need!What are we waiting for?Tricia McKenzieAspen


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