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This Week: Mark Hanis on the Crisis in Darfur

NOW on the News examines the "why" behind current headlines. Listen to Maria Hinojosa's interview with Mark Hanis, head of Genocide Intervention Network, who talks about how the world is responding to Darfur.

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World Leaders Fail Darfur

At the United Nations annual summit this week the issue of Darfur was high on the agenda as African Union peacekeepers expanded their mandate in the war-ravaged region and President Bush named a special envoy to Sudan.

Mark Hanis But the leader of a non-profit group set up specifically to help the victims of Darfur - where over 200,000 people have died and two million have been displaced in three years - said heads of state are failing Darfur with empty rhetoric. "This has been going on for three years and it seems to be the same old story. They talk the talk but they don't walk the walk."

Mark Hanis, the 24-year-old head of Genocide Intervention Network, said the Bush administration has not done enough to stop genocide in Darfur.

"It's absurd that having a special envoy is the best that he [Bush] can do ... it's very disappointing," Hanis said. He called on the U.S. to impose more sanctions on Sudan in part to keep Khartom from purchasing weapons from China and Russia that have been used to kill its citizens.

Hanis also said that American citizens, as well as city and state pension funds, must divest their assets in Sudanese companies to ensure that 'we are not complicit' in the genocide. Hanis also urged Americans to become engaged in the Darfur issue. "The exciting that they [citizens] can do so many things ... educate, advocate and donate."

The issue of genocide was a topic familiar to Hanis, whose four grandparents survived the Holocaust. "I was very concerned with genocide and about how we have done a bad job at stopping it," he said.

As a senior in Swarthmore University, Hanis and two fellow students set up the Genocide Intervention Network in 2005 to "empower Americans with tools to stop genocide."

There are now some 500 student chapters of his group around the U.S.

The group set up a score card for Congress to grade members on how well they have performed in helping to stop genocide in Darfur. "All these members of Congress want to make sure they are getting A pluses ... So they call us to find out what they can do more to ensure they're not failing," Hanis said.

About Mark Hanis

Mark Hanis is the co-founder and head of the Genocide Intervention Network, an organization created with fellow Swarthmore students. Hanis graduated Swarthmore College in 2005 with a major in political science. He is the grandchild of four Holocaust survivors and was raised in Quito, Ecuador. In 2004, Hanis worked for the prosecutor's office at the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Related Links:

Genocide Intervention Network: Group set up by Mark Hanis in 2005 to help prevent genocide in Darfur. Report cards for every member of Congress on their Darfur track record.

An Eyewitness Account: Photographs from a former soldier, who documented the atrocities in Darfur for the Washington Post.

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