Here at Enough, we often swap emails with interesting articles and feature stories that we come across in our favorite publications and on our favorite websites. We wanted to share some of these stories with you as part of our effort to keep you up to date on what you need to know in the world of anti-genocide and crimes against humanity work.
- The Sri Lankan conflict zone is largely closed off to outside observers. This illustrated account by Human Rights Watch of the horrors within the government-declared ‘safe zone’ is a rare glimpse into the suffering of civilians caught in the crossfire between the Sri Lankan army and the Tamil Tigers. The report and accompanying slideshow feature the stories of a group of refugees who fled Sri Lanka in small boats and drifted for nine days before being rescued and brought to shore in India. HRW researcher Meenakshi Ganguly emphasized the importance of these accounts: "The Sri Lankan government is doing everything it can to keep these stories of suffering from reaching the world. These accounts must be multiplied tens of thousands of times to capture the full horror of those who remain trapped by the Tamil Tigers and shelled by government forces."
- Writing for the New Republic, Mark Leon Goldberg calls the current situation in Sri Lanka President Obama’s first humanitarian crisis, although those in Darfur, Somalia, and Congo might take exception to that characterization. The administration’s handling of the conflict, Goldberg says with the backing of human rights defenders, is a hopeful sign for those of us committed to human rights.
- In the Guardian this week, Tom Porteous, the head of Human Right’s Watch’s London office, argues that aid given to the Zimbabwean government will "be used to shore up Mugabe’s abusive regime." Conversely, Donald Steinberg and Sydney Masamvu of International Crisis Group write that intelligent aid to the unity government, "would strengthen the hands of moderates and make it more difficult for the extremists to again seize power." Taken together, the articles provide an interesting picture of the pros and cons many governments are now weighing when beset with pleas from the Zimbabwean government to come to its aid.
- This article from media watch group FAIR takes down a history of reporting on Congo, highlighting the sparse attention many media sources have given to the atrocities and staggering number of deaths in the country. While it’s tricky to compare the amount of coverage Congo receives to the relatively better-known Darfur conflict, which certainly also deserves every bit of attention it receives, the charts illustrating the discrepancies in death count vs. news coverage are disturbing. The author also has some interesting hypotheses for why “5 million dead aren’t worth two stories a year.” It is important to note, however, that there was a spate of coverage on Congo last year, and the author does seem to engage in some hyperbole. Congo has probably been covered more in the U.S. press during the last year than I can remember for a long time.
- The Christian Science Monitor published a story yesterday that took a wider view of the challenges in Somalia, steering away from the frequent pirate-heavy reporting we’ve seen from the region recently. The journalist spoke to refugees living in Hagadera camp in eastern Kenya, where many Somalis have fled to escape the bloody insurgency led by Islamic militants in southern Somalia. “The pirates cause problems in the ocean," one woman said, "but the Islamists cause many more problems inside the country." The article does take a measured look at the threat of piracy, however, quoting the U.N.’s top representative in Somalia, who said that the attention generated by the spate of piracy attacks has drawn needed attention to the country. "We need simultaneous action on security, development and humanitarian needs. This should not be an occasion for quarrels between those who are here to help," the U.N. diplomat said.
The Enough Team contributed to this post.