media alert May 5, 2004
United Nations suppresses its own report on genocide in Sudan
“On the 10th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, another human catastrophe is rapidly accelerating despite full knowledge of the United Nations and Western democracies,” writes Eric Reeves in the May 31 issue of In These Times. Reeves reports on “the world’s greatest humanitarian crisis” in “Genocide in Sudan.” The U.N. Commission on Human Rights has failed to act despite assessment teams’ damning report of the atrocities.
The U.N. report on Sudan’s western Darfur region found “disturbing patterns of massive human rights violations in Danfur, many of which may constitute war crimes and/or crimes against humanity.” Reeves writes how, “particular efforts are made to kill boys and young men. Wells are dynamited or poisoned with corpses … food stuffs are burned, cattle looted … and people tortured, raped and abducted.” Over one million people have been forced to flee their villages as the Sudanese government attempts to quell resistance to its policies. Refugees report concentration-style camps being used to contain the dispossessed.
As the displaced face May’s rainy season, outbreaks of cholera, meningitis and measles will reach epidemic proportions. Mass starvation will begin in October or November as a result of scorched-earth tactics. The Crude Mortality Rate is projected to rise to 20 deaths a day per 10,000 people. Three a day per 10,000 is considered catastrophic. “Most of those killed will not die of machete wounds,” writes Reeves, “but from the consequences of the racial and ethnic animus that is forcibly displacing a vast African population. All signs indicate that in 10 years we will have another grim anniversary.”
In “Depleted Morality” Frida Berrigan reports on the dangers posed to American personnel and Iraqi civilians by depleted uranium (DU) ammunition. One hundred twenty-seven tons of DU munitions have been used in Iraq in the last year. Upon impact, DU shells burn off a toxic radioactive dust that causes disabilities such as insomnia, constant headaches, fatigue and joint pain, along with an increased risk for cancer when inhaled.
Berrigan writes about National Guardsmen who are suffering from the effects of DU poisoning. The National Guard members claim they were never warned of the danger while serving in Iraq. After exhibiting signs of serious illness, members’ requests for radiation testing were ignored by the military. Upon returning home, some soldiers opted for outside testing that confirmed exposure. The cases raise the specter of a widespread health threat.
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In These Times writers are available for interviews.