On Our Watch

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Do you think the world will ever be capable of acting decisively to stop massive crimes against humanity? What will it take?

Dear FRONTLINE,

This resonates -- a tale of basic economic reality. If the "Genocide Olympics" worked, imagine if we could all boycott Chinese products!

defersha teka
lynnwood, wa

Dear FRONTLINE,

A most amazing Frontline - again. I'm comforted by the resolutions that were passed in 2007. However we are not there yet. I will pass on what I have learned of Darfur to my children in hope that they will use it to better the world. Ignorance has allowed this. The world must know of Darfur so it can be stopped.

JAN Marty
phoenix, arizona

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thankyou for the information included in your program. The most disturbing aspect of your report is the level of corruption with respect to primary players in Darfur.

How absurd is it to look to the U.N. as the international police force to insure all nations tow the line of elementary civil behavior? There are many nations that are oppressed by the gangsters in control of their so called governments. Are we expected to generate a global U.N. military to intervene, coerce, exterminate those that enough of the worlds citizens find abhorrant? Some of the worst perpetrators are permanent members of the U.N. security council.

Why should the U.S. intervene in any other international outrage after the criticism we are taking for Iraq? We receive the diabolical "damned if you do-damned if you don't" treatment from so many self serving hypocrites. Why not point out how many U.N. resolutions Saadam Hussein ignored before the U.S. stopped talking and took action?

Is it because we couldn't get a consensus that we should have done nothing and admitted that U.N. resolutions are not worth the paper they are written on? Absolve the U.N. and stop insisting that we negotiate with villains. The Chinese should have been sanctioned from the onset for supporting Khartoum out of self interest.

David Patton
Ft Worth, Tx

Dear FRONTLINE,

When venturing out of the camps, women are vulnerable to attack and rape. We are informed about this routinely. However, there are still some atrocities too taboo to mention. Castration and male genital torture are used, like rape, as a means of terror in Darfur.

I had to go to the Washington Post to find this out. There is no mention by Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch of the use of castration as a means of terror in Darfur. Apparently, sexual violence against the male gender is missing from their political focus.

From By Brian Steidle of the Washington Post; Sunday, March 20, 2005.

"Mihad now represents to me the countless victims of this vicious war, a war that we documented but given our restricted mandate were unable to stop. Every day we surveyed evidence of killings: men castrated and left to bleed to death, huts set on fire with people locked inside, children with their faces smashed in, men with their ears cut off and eyes plucked out, and the corpses of people who had been executed with gunshots to the head. Every day, women are sent outside the IDP camps to seek firewood and water, despite the constant risk of rape at the hands of the Janjaweed. Should men be available to venture out of the camps, they risk castration and murder. So families decide that rape is the lesser evil. It is a crime that families even have to make such a choice."

Martin Bring
Bellingham, Washington

Dear FRONTLINE,

While I support more decisive action for Darfur than anyone has yet contemplated publicly, I wonder at how much is being left out of the picture, and why.

Does anyone else remember the similar cycle of ethnic killing, rape, cleansing in Kordofan and the Nuba region in the 1980s, when apparently Chevron was with the Government of Sudan behind those slave-raiding militias? That area has long been a frontline between north and south Sudan and the Chinese seem now to be getting the oil.

Does anyone else remember Dr Alex de Waal's seminal study of famine and disruptive food aid in Darfur, the contexts of desertification emerging in the 1970s, the palimpsest of peoples and cultures, survival strategies of shifting between nomadism and cultivation? He has recently offered the most complete and astute perspective on the situation there yet.

Did anyone else notice the recent news of a huge aquifer discovered under Darfur? It is almost certain they weren't all over that difficult and foresaken terrain drilling for water.

Let's start connecting all the dots to see and become honest with ourselves about why the UN, US, West, others, and we as economies, societies, communities, individuals do not act decisively, appropriately, and effectively on this and myriad inter-twined crises.

Patrik Schumann
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you once again for raising awareness of these atrocities to so many. To say it is alarming, the lack of response from the world to put an end to these atrocities, would be an understatement. Isn't history supposed to be our lesson for the future? We, as a World, must make genocide exactly that; history.

Highlands Ranch, CO

Dear FRONTLINE,

The chronology of the genocide that you presented forces us all to recognize that we must not expect the Government of Sudan, our government, or China to bring an end to this genocide. We have waited, hoped, and believed in this possibility long enough.

Instead, each of us must accept that we, as individuals and as members of the community of humankind, are responsible for bringing about the end of this genocide. We must speak out everyday. We must educate ourselves and others every day. We must pray every day. We must lobby our politicians every day. We must do whatever we can to help -- everyday. We must not continue to believe that the Darfur genocide is someone else's problem or responsibility. It is not. It is each of ours and all of ours.

Kelley Nixon
Anchorage, AK

Dear FRONTLINE,

Money talks and it does so very loudly. China is probably one of the worst human rights violators in the world. The list goes on and on. They have fiercely prosecuted the Uighur population in the West and brutally victimized many Tibetans. Rape and torture are common instruments of oppression used by the Chinese regime and there is absolutely zero indication that China will ever become a free and democratic country.

How could we expect anything different from them when it comes to Darfur? Have we all forgotten about Tiananmen square? Apparently yes because we have no issues doing business with them. Think about that next time you buy any product made in China.

Luigi Balzanni
Chicago, IL

Dear FRONTLINE,

I will print out thousands of business cards with your link and other organizations helping Darfur. I plan to pass them out and ask each person I come across to write to their senators, and explore the relationship between China, the summer Olympics and Darfur.

I will pray key athletes will boycott the next summer Olympics to hit the Chinese were it hurts most, their wallets.

Miami, FL

Dear FRONTLINE,

There are so many ways that I wish I could help the people of Darfur. I think that I am doing the best that I can to educate people on what is going on.

I teach 7th grade and when I mention what is going on in Darfur, the first reaction from students is, "Sweet...that's awesome." It makes me sick. So I educate them on how UNsweet the situation is. The media has children thinking that violence is okay and then when they get to commit acts of violence on video games for hours at a time, they are numb to the reality. Educating our children and helping them to understand compassion is key. Help to spread awareness of the situation in Darfur.

Tami Hicks
Goshen, IN

Dear FRONTLINE,

The "Not On Our Watch" program demonstrated in no uncertain terms how ineffectual the United Nations is at resolving conflicts around the world.

It also showed, once again, how a Communist government (China in this case) proves it is more concerned about the State than about human lives.

Steven Herron
Chesapeake, VA

Dear FRONTLINE,

Darfur is a failure on the hands of the international community. A shameful story to be read in history books for generations to come. The scale of the genocide is so large, its almost impossible for anyone to imagine. But its not over yet.

Now that once again we have realized how the world stood by and watched again all that was promised to happen never again we should keep alive the hope for those who are left behind. China is the only country that could destroy the Sudanese government by imposing economic sanctions on Sudan and now that the Chinese have given us the "olympics" as a tool to put pressure on its gov't we must put it into good use! After that hopefully we can bring to justice those responsible for their actions.

S O
San diego, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

It is clear that the UN is not learning from the previous genocides-when we all say " never again ". The UN needs drastic changes in it's power to stop genocides. Right now the UN has no power to stop genocides, and we have the proof now with Darfur.It needs to create an international force of disarment to be used when civilians are victims of massacres as it is the case now in Darfur.

Boston, MA

Dear FRONTLINE,

Framing the genocide to the Olympic game, "Genocide Olympic" it was very smart move.

I have another suggestion; I think we would get much better result by demanding China to stop the genocide. To enforce this demand we can boycott all Chinese products and also boycott all corporations which doing business with China. If the celebrities promote such idea I think the US public would be very responsive for such boycott.

May God Bless us All,

Unes Gollestani
San Francisco, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

I usually find FRONTLINE very informative, if a little reserved. But this show seems to want to show the inaction of the UN at the expense of everything else, including accuracy. I will briefly outline a few.

The root cause of the whole conflict is barely covered, a very unfortunate incidence especially since Alex de Waal wrote extensively on it.

The Crime against Humanity and War Crime charge were mentioned but you conveniently forgot to indicate that groups from both sides of the conflicts were charged, so nobody is innocent in this conflict.

United States were portrayed as an powerless spectator. What has been conveniently left out is the fact that Sudan has been a close partner with the US on the War on Terror, so it is an invaluable ally in which black on black violence takes a back seat.

The attempt at various peace deals in which some rebel coalition members refused to either join or partake, leading to a continuation of the conflict. They recent Libya conference was the latest example.

Your portrayal of the supporters of the Stop Darfur movement does not indicate the Islamophobia behind it, especially given the fact the Janjaweed are referred to as Arabs and the Dafurians as Blacks, even though those are cultural references instead of ethnic ones.

There are a bit more, but this should be enough to clear up some of the misconceptions you portrayed.

L Wang
New York, NY

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posted november 20, 2007

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