“Darfur Diaries” Shares Stories of Victims of Genocide

Thursday night, students packed into Williams 301 to view S.T.A.N.D’s (Students Taking Action Now: Darfur) presentation of “Darfur Diaries: Message from Home.” The viewing began with one of the three filmmakers, Jen Marlowe, making a presentation about the background and motivation of the piece. Marlowe spoke of the importance of this film as activism. Making the film was difficult due to the fact that they were filming in Sudan, a country that was then, as it is now, war stricken. But, Marlowe noted, the film “had to be done.” The mission was to cover a genocide that no one knew was happening. Marlowe expressed frustration with how the media has presented the genocide that is taking place in Darfur. The media “simplifies” the story, which is often called “ethnic conflict.” In reality, the Sudanese government is killing its own people, using an ethnic group, the “Arabs” as their weapon. Simplification comes also in the form of numbers. While shocking numbers exist around the conflicts in the region – there are 200,000 refugees in Chad, and 400,000 have been murdered in Darfur – Marlowe stressed that “numbers don’t tell a story; have pain or dignity.”The film team traveled to eastern Chad and snuck over the border into Darfur, Sudan in October of 2004. They left one month later with 45 hours of footage. Much of what makes up the film are the testimonials made by people who have been displaced by the conflict. As the film opens one hears the clapping and singing of young children and childish drawings are animated across the screen. In the drawings are colorful scenes of happy, playing children. Then comes the sounds of airplanes and exploding bombs. Gunshots and screams take over ones auditory senses and the childish drawings literally burn in flames.This scene expresses the horror of what the people of Darfur have and currently are experiencing. While the media has claimed that conflict began in 2003, in reality it has been going on for much longer. The government of Sudan has long been oppressing its people. There are two major groups of people in Sudan, the “Africans” and the “Arabs.” In 2003, the Sudanese Liberation Army, frustrated with the injustices placed on Africans, militarized and began to fight back. In retaliation, the Sudanese government created militias of Arabs, called “Janjaweeds.” These militias then began the mass murder, burglary, separation of families, destruction of villages, and mass raping of the people in Darfur. The result is 400,000 killed since 2003, and over 2 million displaced in Chad and also within Darfur. Many of the people surviving have suffered mentally as a result of the violence. Children suffer especially, for many have lost parents and siblings. As the children were interviewed they spoke of not being able to eat or sleep because of nightmares. In addition, their teachers were captured and tortured, leaving the children without schools or a chance for education. As the movie ends, a Sudanese Liberation Army soldier speaks of the three things that he wants. First is freedom, second is authority and third is freedom only.This film is part of a month long series of events to raise awareness about genocide in Sudan. Meetings are on Monday nights at 8pm in Lafayette Room 207.