- FRONTLINE's Ghosts of Rwanda
The companion site for FRONTLINE's award-winning 2004 report, broadcast on the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. Much of this powerful film can be watched online.
Ghosts of Rwanda examines why the U.S. and rest of the world stood by as some 800,000 Rwandans were methodically hunted down and murdered by Hutu extremists.
It draws on groundbreaking first-hand accounts of the genocide from those who lived it, including Tutsi survivors who recount the horror of seeing their friends and family slaughtered by Hutu friends and co-workers, and the U.N. peacekeepers in Rwanda who were ordered not to intervene. It also features in-depth interviews with many key Western leaders and U.N. officials, including then-U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Madeleine Albright, National Security Adviser Anthony Lake, and Kofi Annan, who was in charge of U.N. peacekeeping at the time.
Of particular interest regarding Darfur are the analyses of the lessons learned about humanitarian intervention and answer to the question, "Can It Happen Again?"
There are many layers to the conflict in Darfur, including different rebel armies and resistance groups; disputes over oil wealth and other natural resources; and the focus on settling Sudan's North-South civil war. All of these factors were in play around the time the killings began in Darfur in 2003.
There is a wealth of material online to help understand the conflict. The Washington Post's interactive page is packed with features on Sudan and Darfur including: a clickable map showing stats/background on everything from tribal divisions to oil fields; a slideshow with audio commentary; facts and figures about Sudan; and a timeline of key events. It also links off to a three-part video series from neighboring Chad, where the refugees -- and the violence -- have now spread; and there's an index page of the latest headlines about the region.
PBS' The NewsHour has reported extensively on the crisis. Its portal page offers an archive of stories, including a June 2007 video briefing on sexual violence in Darfur and an audio slideshow of a 2006 visit to a refugee camp by correspondent Margaret Warner. You can also read background reports on the origins of the crisis and the U.S. role, and helpful profiles of Darfurian rebel groups, Sudan's government and the Janjaweed militia.
And for more on the various players in Dafur's crisis, check out this interactive feature on "who's who in Darfur" from FRONTLINE/World's January 2005 report, Sudan: The Quick and the Terrible. You can also watch the entire segment online.
China which has established close ties with Sudan and other oil-producing African nations, is a key player in the crisis. The Council on Foreign Relations has written a backgrounder on the scale of China's African investments, including a list of countries to which China has sold arms. And this profile by James Traub of Chinese U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya, from the Sept. 3, 2006 issue of The New York Times Magazine, reveals China's very different view of the world.
Darfur activists have pressured China's government to take action against Sudan's government and finally got their attention by targeting Beijing's 2008 Summer Olympics. Eric Reeves, a leader in the activist movement, coined the phrase "The Genocide Olympics" for the campaign. On Olympic Dream for Darfur, you can find news updates and links to online petitions to China.
Update: On Feb. 12, 2008, filmmaker Steven Spielberg withdrew as artistic advisor to the Beijing Olympics. Activists had pressured him to resign over China's economic and diplomatic support of the Sudanese government. "At this point, my time and energy must be spent not on Olympic ceremonies, but on doing all I can to help bring an end to the unspeakable crimes against humanity that continue to be committed in Darfur," Spielberg said in a statement.
While the "Genocide Olympics" is the current high-profile campaign among Darfur activists, it is just a small piece of the total movement.
Save Darfur is arguably the largest Darfur-specific activist network in the Unites States. It maintains a blog and a news feed on its homepage, but the emphasis is on action: You can find a local group near you, petition mutual funds to divest from "companies that help fund genocide in Darfur," and visit other activist sites.
Established human rights groups have also taken up the Darfur banner. Amnesty International runs Eyes On Darfur, which "leverages the power of high-resolution satellite imagery to provide unimpeachable evidence of the atrocities being committed in Darfur." Human Rights Watch and Doctors Without Borders also maintain pages about Darfur.
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum hosts several multimedia features, including podcasts of conversations with genocide prevention activists, and a photo essay by former U.S. Marine Brian Steidle, who served as a military observer in Darfur in September 2004. If you're familiar with the Google Earth application, you can use the museum's impressive set of layers to track the violence.
For nearly a decade, Eric Reeves, an English professor in Massachusetts, has been relentlessly tracking atrocities in Sudan, publishing his detailed analyses of the growing tragedy on his Web site and using his knowledge to pressure governments and the world community. Actress Mia Farrow is another well-known activist who maintains a personal Web site with an archive of her editorials about the crisis.
To trace the United Nations' response to Darfur, you can start with FRONTLINE's chronology, which offers context for the Security Council's reports and resolutions. FRONTLINE's site also features expert analysis of the United Nations' response, and some of the early warning memos sent by Mukesh Kapila to his bosses at the United Nations.
The United Nations chronicles its own response from 2003-2004 in this timeline, and tracks the latest developments in Sudan on this "News Focus" page.
On April 7, 2004, the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, Kofi Annan gave this address to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, saying "Whatever terms it uses to describe the situation, the international community cannot stand idle. … [T]he international community must be prepared to take swift and appropriate action. By 'action' in such situations I mean a continuum of steps, which may include military action."
To learn more about the debate over humanitarian intervention in light of the 2005 "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine, start with FRONTLINE's page of analysis. You can also read the original 2001 report, which laid out the argument for humanitarian intervention, and the doctrine as it was approved by the United Nations in 2005.
In contrast to the U.S. response to the genocide in Rwanda, the Bush administration was quick to speak out on Darfur. In September 2004, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell gave a briefing to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the situation, including the determination by U.S. investigators that the violence in Darfur was in fact a genocide. At the same time, Powell said the label was less important than intervening in the crisis: "Call it civil war; call it ethnic cleansing; call it genocide; call it 'none of the above.' The reality is the same. There are people in Darfur who desperately need the help of the international community."
President Bush's statement from the same day affirmed Powell's statement, calling the violence a genocide and announcing the pursuit of new Security Council resolutions "to authorize an expanded African Union security force to prevent further bloodshed" and to "ban flights by Sudanese military aircraft in Darfur."
In May 2007, after years of feckless Security Council resolutions, Bush announced tightened economic sanctions against Sudanese companies, new sanctions against "30 companies owned or controlled by the Sudanese government" and against individuals "responsible for violence."
While the U.S. has pushed harder than other powers for meaningful action in Darfur, critics point out that speaking out brought little actual relief. This October 2007 Washington Post summarizes the administration's policy to date and concludes that "U.S. Promises on Darfur Don't Match Actions."