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July 11-18, 2007

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Letters to the Editor


A FEW WEEKS AGO, a refugee from the first Sudanese genocide came to speak at my high school. He came to shine light on his own courageous experience of escaping the genocide. The conflict started in 1987, when he was merely 5 years old. At that innocent age, he witnessed his parents being murdered before his very eyes. During this time the national government wanted all boys and men in Southern Sudan dead. With no other alternative, Benjamin Ajak joined the Lost Boys in a massive exodus out of Sudan, walking thousands of miles into Ethiopia and later Kenya.

It struck me that I had never once heard of this silent war in Africa and the numerous deaths that resulted from a government engulfed in money and petroleum. I asked my parents if they had any prior knowledge of these happenings in Sudan and they didn't either. Looking through my history book only fueled my disappointment for I didn't find anything, not even a single paragraph on the atrocities in Sudan.

Today, there is once again a massive genocide sweeping through the largest country in Africa. Since the beginning of the Darfur genocide in 2003, more than 400,000 have lost their lives and 2.5 million others have been displaced out of their homes. A majority of the victims are innocent women and children. These are chilling, heartbreaking facts. However, rarely has the mayhem in Sudan made front-page news. (A page only worthy of important notifications, such as Sanjaya getting voted off American Idol.)

I surveyed the astonishing facts over and over again, spinning it my head. I finally realized why the United States of America, the most powerful country in the world has done nothing to prevent the actions of this corrupt African Nation: Americans simply don't care. We are so engulfed in our selfish, self-centered lives that we don't care about black people dying across the world. During the Clinton administration, Bill Clinton was hailed for preventing genocide in Kosovo. Faced with the Sudan genocide, Congress and the American people have made no choices toward stepping in and helping. But why is this?

The simple truth is that Americans will not help because the people of Darfur are black Muslims, and we just don't have time to help people that are so different from us; different culture, different language, different religion, different skin color. We refuse to help the innocent people of Sudan because they are just too different, even if they are still people just like us. I highly doubt that if these problems were striking a white European country that Americans would be engulfed in so much ignorance.

The people of Sudan don't want our money or for us to take drastic time out of our lives to sweep across the world and save them. All they want is for us to shed light on this problem so that more pressure can be put on corrupt government officials and something can be done to solve this escalating problem.

Witnessing Benjamin Ajak's address helped me realize how fortunate I am to live in a country where I am not constantly living in fear of my government. His courage taught me that I have so much power in my fingertips--in fact, we all do. Now all we have to do is utilize it.

Lite Matasau, Santa Rosa

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