NewsHour Extra Feature Stories
NewsHour Extra feature stories can help students identify and interpret
key issues in current events. This activity anticipates one class period,
but the follow-up essay might be assigned as homework or in another period.
Warm Up: Use
initiating questions to introduce the topic and find out how much your
Have students read NewsHour Extra's feature story and answer the questions
on the reading comprehension handout.
Use discussion questions to encourage students to think about how the
issues outlined in the story affect their lives and express and debate
can write a 500-word editorial on the topic expressing their views and
send it to NewsHour Extra [email@example.com]
for possible publication.
Students are graded on their answers to reading comprehension questions
and/or their editorial.
Story: Sudan Genocide
Declaration Stirs World, 9/15/04
1. What is "genocide"?
2. Can you think of
a recent situation in which there was the intentional destruction of a
national, ethnical, religious, or racial group?
3. When should the
international community intervene in a civil war, or brutal dictatorship?
Questions: (click here for printout)
1. What did the United Nations' World Health Organization recently report
about the situation in Sudan?
The United Nations'
World Health Organization issued new figures saying 6,000 to 10,000
people are dying per month there in one of Africa's worst humanitarian
2. What did U.S. Secretary
of State Colin Powell say about the situation in Sudan?
The report comes
a week after U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell declared that the
killings, rapes and other atrocities committed in Darfur amount to "genocide."
Powell used the word in remarks before the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee and based his finding on a U.S. State Department survey of
1,136 refugees living in neighboring Chad. He determined that "the
government of Sudan and the Janjaweed bear responsibility, and genocide
may still be occurring."
3. What was the Sudanese
government's response to Powell's statements?
the Sudanese government claimed that Powell's statement was "flawed,
regrettable and dismaying." The government claimed the report was
"based on partial observations by an American team that had never
set foot in Darfur and interviewed politicized refugees in Eastern Chad."
4. What is the history
of the word "genocide"?
The word genocide
came out of the violence of World War II and recalls the Nazi attempt
to systematically eliminate the Jewish people in the Holocaust. The
official definition is the intentional destruction of a national, ethnical,
religious, or racial group. In 1948 the United Nations General Assembly
gave genocide a legal definition in the Convention on the Prevention
and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
5. Why have heads
of states been hesitant to label situations "genocide"?
many heads of state have been hesitant to use the label genocide, as
doing so would make them legally obliged to act to "prevent and
punish" the perpetrators.
Ten years ago,
the Clinton administration resisted applying the term genocide to ethnically
motivated massacres in Rwanda until 800,000 people had been killed.
The former president later apologized for not having acted more quickly.
6. What are the causes of violence in Darfur?
Tension in Darfur
between black Africans and Arabs dates back decades. The two groups
have long competed over scarce land, water and other natural resources.
situation came to a head in early 2003, when two groups of black Africans
from the region openly rebelled against the Sudanese government, demanding
inclusion in new power-sharing arrangements.
To suppress the
rebellion, the Sudanese government trained and armed Arab militias,
according to human rights groups.
armed militias supported by the Sudanese armed forces, are committing
massive human rights violations in the Darfur region in the west of
Sudan. They are systematically pillaging and destroying the towns and
villages of Darfur, forcing the people to flee for their lives,"
Amnesty International reported.
7. What has the Security Council said about the situation in Darfur?
On July 30, the
United Nations' most powerful body, the Security Council passed a resolution
demanding that the Sudanese government disarm the Janjaweed and stop
the violence within 30 days. If the authorities failed to do so, the
Security Council threatened to take action against the government. When
the Secretary General's Special representative to Sudan went to investigate
the situation at the end of August, he found that the government had
not made satisfactory progress. The Security Council is currently discussing
how best to respond to this report.
8. What punishment is the United States considering?
How to punish
the Sudanese government is a more complicated issue. The United States
and the European Union have threatened sanctions in which they would
refuse to buy oil from Sudan, thus starving the government of profits
from the industry. However, China, which buys a lot of oil from Sudan,
has threatened to veto any Security Council resolution that includes
(more research might be needed):
1. Keeping in mind
the U.S. commitment to ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, what
do you think the U.S. should do about the situation in Sudan?
2. If the Sudanese
government opposes any intervention in the region, what should the United
3. What would you
add to the definition of "genocide"? How would you measure levels
of violence and judge when to intervene?
Write a 300-500
word essay on either of these topics providing clear examples. Send your
completed editorial to NewsHour Extra (firstname.lastname@example.org). Exceptional
essays might be published on our Web site.