Better Late than Never?

612After meeting with Dr. Halima Bashir, a Darfuri woman who experienced first-hand the atrocities taking place in the region, US president George Bush had strong words for Sudan president Omar Al-Bashir.

It’s very important for President Bashir of Sudan to know that he cannot escape accountability; that if he so chooses, he could change people’s lives, the condition of people’s lives very quickly.

Bush also expressed his frustration related to peacekeeping efforts (or lack thereof) in Darfur – “The pace of action out of the United Nations is too slow”.

Will Bush’s most recent statements be accompanied by actions? Or will they simply lead to empty promises as we have seen before? Only time will tell.

Dr. Bashir is the author of the book “Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur”.

Tears of the Desert, a memoir of survival in Darfur

Nicholas Kristof writes about an upcoming memoir by Dr. Halima Bashir, a young Darfuri woman whom the Sudanese authorities have tried to silence by beatings and gang-rape.

Halima soon found herself treating heartbreaking cases, like that of a 6-year-old boy who suffered horrendous burns when the state-sponsored janjaweed militia threw him into a burning hut.

Then the janjaweed attacked a girls’ school near Halima’s new clinic and raped dozens of the girls, aged 7 to 13. The first patient Halima tended to was 8 years old. Her face was bashed in and her insides torn apart. The girl was emitting a haunting sound: “a keening, empty wail kept coming from somewhere deep within her throat — over and over again,” she recalls in the book.

Halima found herself treating the girls with tears streaming down her own face. All she had to offer the girls for their pain was half a pill each of acetaminophen: “At no stage in my years of study had I been taught how to deal with 8-year-old victims of gang rape in a rural clinic without enough sutures to go around.

This has to stop.

Calling the Darfur crisis a “genocide” is not enough. Our leaders, the international community… all of us need to do more. I agree with Mr. Kristof and “hope President Bush accelerates the process and invites her to the White House, to show the world which of the two Bashirs America stands behind.”

Read the entire article here.

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Buy the book at Amazon.