Featuring Guest Blogger: Jacqueline

Last summer I worked as an intern at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC in the traveling exhibitions department. I took the internship expecting that I would be able to use my history degree and learn how to exhibit such tragedy on museum walls. What I ended up taking away from the experience had very little to do with these expectations. I ended up learning more about foreign relations, diplomacy, and modern day genocide than I would have ever guessed. As part of this experience, I had the privilege of meeting with the museum’s Committee on Conscience a branch of the museum that was developed from President Jimmy Carter’s Commission on the Holocaust in the 1970s. This committee’s sole obligation is to bring the United States attention to genocide around the world. The committee issues watches and warnings for areas where acts of genocides are occurring. They have issued a genocide EMERGENCY in Darfur.
On a weekly basis, I would also attend the museum’s summer lecture series titled First Person. This series enables Holocaust survivors to come and speak for one hour to the public about their experience during the Holocaust in Europe. These were some of the brightest, articulate and caring people I have ever heard speak. At the end of their talk, each person reiterated the same message – never forget those that were lost during the Holocaust and never let it happen again through inaction. On several of these occasions they urged their audience to educate themselves on the situation in Darfur. I really took this message to heart and have been trying to educate myself that is happening in Darfur.

In recent months, it has become absolutely clear that diplomacy is failing in this region. The UN is not able to see any real change and particularly in the last month aide workers have been targeted and killed. On April 15, an African Union peacekeeper was killed raising the number to 7 killed in April alone. A total of 18 peacekeepers and relief workers have been killed since 2004. This is the worst genocide since 1994’s genocide in Rwanda. Here are some staggering statistics on Darfur (as of 3/30/07):

  • 400,000 men, women and children have been murdered
  • 2 million people have been displaced from the homes and are living in refugee camps
  • 3.5 million people are reliant on international aid to survive

This past weekend, I attended a rally in Lafayette Park in front of the White House. The rally was part of a series of Global Days for Darfur to bring attention to the problem across the country. There were many charismatic speakers from many different organizations including Amnesty International, UNICEF, NAACP, and the Harvard Law School Human Rights Program. Each of these programs is interest in humanitarian rights and protection and each have an interest in bringing peace to the Darfur region. The overwhelming message from this rally was that the region needs both peace and protection now. President Bush, who is genuinely interested in putting an end to this, has been going back and forth on his decision to send military protection to this region. Just last week he granted the UN one more chance at having diplomacy work without any military action. The people of Darfur desperately need protection and aid.

Over the past year, as I’ve followed the situation through the Holocaust Museum and through the news media, I am constantly reminded of a scene in Hotel Rwanda. A U.S. news cameraman, Jack Daglish, portrayed by actor Joaquin Phoenix, apologizes to the main character Paul Rusesabagina played by actor Don Cheadle for showing graphic footage of women and children being killed in the street with machetes. He says to Paul that had he seen him in the room he never would have showed the tape in front of him. Paul says “I’m glad that you shot that footage. Once the world sees what is happening, they will have to intervene.” Phoenix’s character responds “I think they will show this footage on the evening news and everyone will comment on how sad it is and then return to eating their dinners.” I hope that the world has not become apathetic to this suffering and that this situation will be resolved as quickly as possible. These people want to return to their homes and lives with a sense of security. I encourage you to follow the situation closely, sign petitions, join aid associations, and demand that governments across the world acknowledge this atrocity.

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3 comments:

Jacqueline said...

Thanks, Amber you made it look very nice.

Boo said...

Whatever, it was all you girl. Great post about an important subject. I wish I could have joined you. That is an amazing shot of Mia Farrow. I can't believe you were so close.
Thanks for being our first guest blogger.

Stephanie said...

Jacqueline!! Thanks for the contribution! I'm so happy to have you as a guest blogger.

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