Darfur – The Devil Came on Horseback

save-darfur.jpgI’m ashamed to say I’ve not paid as much attention to the crisis in Darfur as I undoubtedly should have been. I know that Nicholas Kristof is passionate about Darfur placing it almost continuously in the spotlight.

That’s it.

Saturday evening I watched ‘The Devil Came on Horseback.’ It’s the story of Brian Steidle (former Marine captain) who served as an official military observer tracking violations of the ‘cease fire’ in Darfur. It “is a heartfelt account of what this particular American witness saw and, just as important, what he did afterward.

It’s heartrending.

I watched it again Sunday.

Since 2003, the government of Sudan and their proxy militia, the Janjaweed, have been conducting a counter-insurgency operation against rebel groups in Darfur. Their primary strategy is a scorched earth campaign targeting communities that share the same ethnicity as the rebels. Government forces and Janjaweed continue to terrorize and kill civilians, rape women and girls, burn villages, and drive innocent people from their homes. More than 2 million people have been displaced and at least 450,000 have lost their lives to this genocidal campaign.

One of the most heartbreaking aspects – the extent to which rape and sexual battery are used simply as a tool of destruction given the theocratic type cultural stigma that is attached to women and/or girls who are raped in Sudan. Brian Steidle’s sister, Gretchen Steidle Wallace has started an organization for the women who survived this genocide, Global Grassroots.

Tonight on Frontline on PBS, there is this presentation:

Word of the burgeoning crisis in Darfur first came to the newly appointed U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Sudan, Dr. Mukesh Kapila, in 2003, while he was stationed in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum. “I was sitting in my office in Khartoum. … [A] young woman in her late 20s perhaps, who had trekked all the way from Darfur, sat in my office, and she told me her personal story of how not only had she herself been multiply raped, but also that her sisters and her family had also been maltreated in that way, and that this had actually been done by soldiers and people dressed in military and paramilitary uniforms.

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Brian Steidle talked about his helplessness while observing in Darfur. Here he was a former Marine officer but yet all he had now was a pocket knife, a camera, and a pen & pad, and he was unable to DO ANYTHING to stop IT. It reminded me of the song by Bruce Cockburn, ‘If I had a Rocket Launcher’ – 1980s when the powerful generals and their juntas were exterminating Guatemalans.

“If I had a rocket launcher, some son-of-a-bitch would die.”

Resources – just a few:


9 Responses

  1. Most Excellent Post!


  2. Thanks, Hill. I’ve been over to read just haven’t commented.

  3. Excellent post. Wonderful. Those of us who give a damn thank you.

  4. This is something I’ll be covering weekly, I’m thinking – updates, etc.

  5. Samantha Power is one of my biggest influences, and her books are amazing. I would encourage everyone to check out “A Problem from Hell”.

  6. Yeah, I saw her tonight on Frontline. I actually stumbled across Reeves’ site the other day. I didn’t realize until tonight the role he played in bringing Darfur to the forefront as well.

  7. Everyone in the blogosphere should do something on the Genocide Olympics. What a tragedy …

  8. Genocide Olympics

    Christ, what a phrase, Boo. But is is, going from one to another.

    One focus is China. China is also heavily involved in acquiring oil from Burma’s fields as well. Burma and Sudan. Us and the Middle East.

  9. To be fair, I didn’t come up with that phrase … BUT I’M SURE AS HELL GONNA SPREAD IT 🙂

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