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Opinion

Letters

On genocide and 'organ theft'.

(Page 2 of 3)



The government of Sudan, which bears overwhelming (though not sole) responsibility, is certainly unwilling (and at this point probably unable) to provide the necessary security. That leaves it up to the international community, which means that the US needs to play a leading role.

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Needless to say, neither Save Darfur nor the US government established the size of UNAMID or drew up its budget; the UN did. It is worth saying, though, that Save Darfur's advocacy efforts have helped convince the US to provide hundreds of millions of dollars in additional bilateral peacekeeping funds over and above the standard US share of the UN peacekeeping budget to help develop and deploy the force.

Gustafson also wades into the unnecessary debate over casualty rates in Darfur. Mortality studies sponsored by the UN, the US government, and independent experts over the years have produced different findings.

Certainty is impossible, in large part because the government of Sudan has barred the type of region-wide epidemiological survey that could provide authoritative information.

Save Darfur uses the most recent UN estimate that as many as 300,000 men, women, and children have died as a result of the conflict in Darfur. But the causes of death are both direct violence and conditions (such as lack of food, water, and shelter) deliberately inflicted upon civilians largely by the government and its proxies.

It is interesting to note that new satellite data available on Google Earth and through the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., reveal that there were actually twice as many villages destroyed as previously reported, a great many of them well after the April 2004 cease-fire.

Finally, Gustafson claims that activists exaggerated the situation in Darfur by calling it a genocide in order to expand the movement.

Save Darfur as an organization views what has happened in Darfur as a genocide, and we're hardly alone in that view. Indeed, the fact that the US government itself determined the situation in Darfur to be a genocide and then failed to back up that determination with sufficient actions to end the crisis helped give rise to the Save Darfur movement.

While others have not reached the same conclusion regarding the "genocide" label, there is a broad consensus that the government of Sudan is responsible for crimes against humanity in Darfur. As the UN Commission of Inquiry emphasized, those crimes – a widespread and systematic attack on a civilian population – are no less heinous than genocide.

Alex Meixner,
Senior director of policy and government relations, Save Darfur Coalition

Washington

Sweden's response

On Aug. 26 The Christian Science Monitor carried a piece written by Alan Dershowitz, "Sweden's shame over Israeli 'organ theft' nonstory." We would like to clarify the following points:

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