More than 60 people attended a workshop in Ithaca that addressed the ongoing conflict in Darfur, Sudan.
The event took place March 5 at Tompkins County Public Library and was cosponsored by several organizations, including Catholic Charities of Tompkins/Tioga. Speakers included Salan M. Hassan, a Sudanese native who serves as professor in the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University; Grace Ritter, a social activist from Ithaca who recently visited Darfur; and John Weiss, a history professor at Cornell who showed a video that he recently produced about the region.
Weiss termed the ongoing crisis as the first genocide of the new century, following in the grim footsteps of the Holocaust, Cambodia and Bosnia. Darfur, located in the western part of Sudan, has been the scene of massive killings, famine, slavery and family displacement since an uprising by rebel groups against Arab militias was launched in early 2003. The violence stems from a civil war dating back 50 years pitting Arab Muslims in the north against Christians and animists — believers in the existence of spirits — in the south.
Yet Hassan “sees the conflict as more those who have access to power and resources and those who don’t, rather than being along racial or religious lines,” according to Edie Reagan, justice-and-peace coordinator for Catholic Charities of Tompkins/Tioga. Reagan also said that “it’s important to let people know there is a strong democratization movement going on.”
Reagan stated that Darfur hasn’t received the proper level of attention by United States politicians or media. For this reason, she said participants at the March 5 event were urged to write their legislators, asking them to prioritize the crisis.