Darfur – A Video Game?

I came across this early this morning. Not quite sure how to react to it – would like to hear what you guys think.

mtvU has brought together activism and technology in an effort to bring an end to the Darfur genocide. What has been created is a video game in which the user is a displaced Darfurian who fights for survival by foraging for water amidst threats of Janjaweed militia attacks.

mtvU wants the game to be a “glimpse of what it’s like for the more than 2.5 million who have been internally displaced by the crisis in Sudan”.

I understand that mtvU wants to spread awareness about the atrocities taking place, but I do not know whether this is the right direction to go in.

The suffering that the people of Darfur face day in and day out is not a GAME – it is a REALITY.

In the game, if an IDP runs out of water or gets captured by the militia, he or she can start over, try again. In real life, there is no “starting over”.

The real IDP’s do not have an endless supply of lives – they have one.

To see a female avatar running through a village lined with rocks and dead cattle with the Janjaweed chasing her down seems somewhat distasteful to me. I really did not want to include the link to the game on this blog entry. However, I decided that this was something that all of you needed to see for yourself.

Sudan Hangs Nine

Nine Sudanese men, convicted of murdering a newspaper editor in 2006, have been executed at a Khartoum prison.

It is believed that the men were upset at an article written by the editor which downplayed the scale of rape in the Darfur crisis and took shots at women of the region.

All nine men belonged to the Fur tribe, one of three major tribes targeted by the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed as part of the genocide in Darfur.

The men proclaimed their innocence to their loved ones before the hangings –

They said they should be considered as martyrs for the cause of Darfur and asked their families not to weep for them.

Hundreds of Darfuris gathered outside the prison. Also, thousands of demonstrators staged protests throughout Khartoum – angered at what they believe is a “political crime”.

Perpetrators of Darfur Genocide Speak

We often hear accounts of the Darfur atrocities from the mouths of the people who they were committed against.

Rarely, if ever, do we hear accounts of the genocide by the people responsible for it.

Several defected members of the Sudanese army and the government-sponsored Janjaweed militia have decided that now is the time to tell their story.

Orders to attack, orders to rape, and orders to exterminate – you won’t believe your ears.

Slavery in Darfur

619The Darfur Consortium, a coalition of Africa-based and Africa-focused NGOs, has released a study documenting eye-witness accounts of slavery among men, women, and children at the hands of the Janjaweed and Sudanese army.

According to the report, thousands of Darfur residents are being forced to perform hard labor, domestic labor, and sexual services.

A boy who experienced first-hand the appalling events had this to say –

They were treating me and the other boys very badly. They kept telling us that we are not human beings and we are here to serve them.

The Sudanese government has yet to comment on the study.

Another Challenge for Darfur

68The people of Darfur live in constant fear of being killed at the hands of the Janjaweed. However, another ruthless killer may soon take center stage – an AIDS epidemic.

The Sudan Tribune has published a lengthy yet informative commentary piece on the country’s susceptibility to a HIV/AIDS outbreak.

Several factors contribute to Sudan’s HIV/AIDS prevalence – including “the geographic location of the country, the refugee and displacement crisis, famine, economic collapse, insufficient commitment to public health education, and weak testing capabilities”.

There is also a stigma attached to those infected with the virus, who are often viewed as bringing shame and embarrassment upon their families and risk losing jobs and relationships.

The HIV/AIDS situation in Darfur must be handled proactively not reactively. I cannot imagine watching these people overcome one crisis only to be devastated by another. They, and all human beings, deserve better.

A Busy News Day

62Several important developments related to Darfur are surfacing. Here’s the rundown –

The International Criminal Court’s arrest warrant for Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir will most likely be issued secretly to protect victims and witnesses and strengthen the chances of apprehending additional suspects. However, Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo stated that the matter of issuance will be decided “sooner rather than later”.

A Janjaweed militiaman was killed in Western Sudan after an argument with internally displaced persons.

Fifteen human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Save Darfur, have challenged the Sudanese government’s claim that the humanitarian and security situation in Darfur is improving. Their report states that the “government of Sudan is lying about the reality in Darfur while conducting a charm offensive”.