Friday, September 17, 2010


I am trying to get the Pell Center in Newport, Rhode Island to sponsor Darfuri Mohamed Yahya as a speaker. The director of the Pell Center accepted the idea, then he resigned and now I am not sure what will happen. I just learned that the Pell Center is choosing their speakers by committee. This may make it difficult. As the previous director knew of me and my work and the committee does not.

This is my attempt tonight ~

Dear Michele and Pell Center "team",

I cannot convey in typed words why I care so much about ending, preventlng genocide and our response to it - or in our case as a country and international community, our lack of response to it.

This post/article by Eric Reeves is an example of why I care so much about this as a human being who lives on this planet while a genocide has been going on since 2003 on the Darfuri people....unarmed families.

I hope you and your team will take the time to read this. This is a humanity-defining issue. It says who we are as human beings....that we allow this to go on. We aren't truly free until all are free and this young boy that died by drowning in a refugee camp certainly is more free now than he was while living "on our watch".

I certainly hope you will consider having Darfuri Mohamed Yahya come and speak at the Pell Center. I have attached his bio and included a youtube video link where he talks with VOA's Ndimyake Mwakalyelye. Mohamed speaks near the beginning and later on the video link, which I include here

And here is the link to Radio Dabanga where he works: radio dabanga

Thank you for your humanity and consideration.

Sandra Hammel

“The Death of ‘Ahmed’ of Kassab Camp,” Dissent Magazine (on-line), February 15, 2010
Eric Reeves

The young boy from Kassab Camp is unnamed, unidentified except by the name of his camp. He drowned last week, and notice came only in the form of a brief announcement from Radio Dabanga
, which has sources throughout Darfur:

“A boy died by drowning in Kassab Camp in North Darfur on Saturday. Several houses collapsed in the camp after heavy rains that fell on the region. A source said that dozens of displaced families are in the open after the loss of their homes.”

Without this notice from one of the world’s more obscure news sources, the boy’s anonymity would have been complete—joining the hundreds of thousands who have perished in similar anonymity over the past eight years. And perhaps I should be more concerned about the “dozens of displaced families”—potentially hundreds of civilians—exposed in North Darfur during the very height of the rainy season, facing ominously high malnutrition rates. But there are times when I find the world’s inability to look with any particularity at the human suffering and destruction in Darfur a cause for rage, for a desperate urge to make this suffering and destruction into a recognizable, an undeniable, an inescapably disturbing portrait. So I will construct an all too plausible history for this boy from Kassab Camp, and his place in Darfur’s ongoing agony.

I’ll call him Ahmed, and he is twelve years old; he has been in Kassab for the past six years. He arrived in summer 2004, at the height of the genocidal violence, having seen his village destroyed and losing most of his family. His ten-year-old sister and mother were gang-raped by the Janjaweed in front of all the village men, including his father, who was later killed. His mother survives, but has been nearly disabled by the trauma of the gang-raping and loss of her husband; his sister died a painful death from the fistula that developed following the tearing of her vagina and anus. His younger brother was killed in the attack; he is not sure whether his older brothers are alive or dead. His nights are haunted by dreams of violence he cannot understand or escape.

He has had few, perhaps no educational opportunities, and recreational resources are nonexistent; the minimal psycho-social services for his mother disappeared when Khartoum expelled thirteen humanitarian organizations in March 2009. He has been increasingly hungry as the UN World Food Program cuts rations to half the minimum kilocalorie diet; malnutrition is rising in North Darfur and food has become too expensive for him or his mother to purchase. She is unable to work, and Ahmed has been too young to compete for the few jobs available in or near the camp. Daily life before his death was defined by hunger, a lack of properly maintained latrines, inadequate shelter against this summer’s slashing rains (August and September are the two rainiest months of the season), and fear. At times he has suffered from an unbearable loneliness and sadness.

His vision of the future is no more than a version of the past six years. As part of this vision, Ahmed is all too aware of the marauding presence of the Janjaweed militia, who have made travel outside Kassab too dangerous (they have military quarters just a few kilometers away), and the protection nominally provided by the UN peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) is widely regarded as a grim joke within the camp. Continual low-level conflict among the equally deprived camp residents is a source of continual anxiety for Ahmed. A renewed military offensive begun earlier this year by Khartoum and the Janjaweed in nearby Jebel Marra has created many more displaced persons; and Kassab, already inadequate to the needs of its more than 30,000 residents, has become dangerously overcrowded. A camp leader told Radio Dabanga in early June of this year that, “People [in Kassab] suffer from food shortages and water shortages with the influx of new migrants to the camp.” Things have only grown worse in the past three months.

Ahmed also senses a growing fear that Kassab itself may be attacked at some point, as Khartoum ratchets up plans to dismantle the camps and forcibly return displaced persons to villages without security, or to as yet unconstructed “new villages.” Indeed, two years ago Nicholas Kristof posted a dispatch from a visitor to Kassab:

“As I write this, Kassab camp (North Darfur) home to 25,000 unarmed civilians and the location of Darfur Peace and Development Organization’s women’s center, is under attack by Janjaweed forces. I spent time in the camp and know many people there. What do we do? Rebel forces are too distant and under-equipped to defend Kassab. UNAMID has only a small presence there. Who will be dead tomorrow?”

“Who will be dead tomorrow?” The question, even unarticulated, has haunted Ahmed as he watches his mother’s mental health deteriorate and people he has known die from one cause or another.

In March 2007, the UN’s most senior humanitarian official, John Holmes, attempted to visit Kassab. As the BBC journalist traveling with him reported:

“The UN’s new emergency relief coordinator John Holmes has been turned away from a camp in Darfur for those fleeing the Sudanese conflict. The UN envoy was refused entry by Sudanese soldiers to Kassab camp in northern Darfur, says the BBC’s Karen Allen, who is travelling with him. In the past six months the BBC has reported on mass rapes of women and young girls at the camp.... Within hours of arriving in Darfur, Mr Holmes was stopped at a checkpoint. His convoy was sent back and television groups covering the visit had their video tapes confiscated, our correspondent says.”

Ahmed perhaps heard rumors of an important foreigner who might help Kassab, and perhaps bring protection, help for his mother, and more food and clean water. The bitter anger of the camps residents at the impotence of the African Union force (which would become the UN/African Union force [UNAMID] on January 1, 2008) would have been palpable, if largely incomprehensible.

Even more incomprehensible to Ahmed are the questions continually posed by his elders: “Where is the international community?” “Where is a real UN peacekeeping force?” “Why have we been abandoned?” Ahmed knows virtually nothing of the world that has so resolutely refused to see him or end the suffering of his people.

So the ignorance is mutual: the world that knows nothing of Ahmed or his death has created only the most tenuous presence in his own life. He can’t feel gratitude for the humanitarian assistance that alone has stood between him and death; although unable to say as much, his life barely seems worth living. When the heavy rains washed away his no doubt inadequate shelter, his last thoughts before drowning were not of the help that did not arrive, they were not even of his family. I imagine them simply as the confused, terrified culmination of six years of suffering and deprivation that he had come to believe was his lot in life.

For all the Ahmeds who remain, or who have already perished, this assessment is all too true.
[Eric Reeves is author of A Long Day’s Dying: Critical Moments in the Darfur Genocide]

Eric Reeves
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063




Email from Mohamed Yahya ~
-----Original Message-----
From: Mohamed Yahya
To: Sandra Hammel
Subject: Re: Speaking in Rhode Island
Dear Sandra,

Thank you so much again for our excellent efforts trying to connect us and make the upcoming event possible.

I'm very excited to hear about these good news. I will be honored to go and speak to your Community or the Congregation when possible. I'm sending you my bio that needed to updated by adding very few things..such as my recent nomination for the "2010 Dan David Pulitzer Prize". However, you can added the way you want. Even though I wasn't fortunate enough to compete with the top world leaders, such as the Italian president, Britain Tony Blair and other most Influential leaders and Actors..But I'm still proud to be one of the nominees..anyway..

I just wanted to let you know that I just arrived from a short trip to Boston, where I was invited to speak at one of the Universities about Darfur. I thought I passed through your area during my visit if you are from that Rhode Island...If so I really wished to meet you but the limited time given me no chance. I hope to see you next time soon...

Please keep up your good work forward and say Hi and thank you to Dr. Peter Liotta.

I will look forward to talk to you a bout anything else soon. Please let me know if there any questions.

Keep your good work forward.

Thank you.

Mohamed Yahya

BIO of Mohamed Yahya

Mohamed Adam Yahya is a refugee from the Darfur region of Sudan and is the founder and Executive Director of Damanga Coalition for Freedom and Democracy. From 1995 to 2005, he was Chairman and spokesman of the Representatives of the Massaleit Community in Exile, which was the first human rights group to alert the international community to human rights abuses in western Sudan.

Mr. Yahya was born in a small village east of Al-Geneina, the capital of Darmassaleit (West Darfur state). Both as a child and adult, he experienced the brutal racism that permeates Sudanese society. In 1993, his village witnessed the first attacks of the Sudanese government's Arab militia raiders, known as janjaweed. Yahya's home was completely decimated and most of his relatives and neighbors were shot, raped, or burned alive in their huts. Yahya was studying at Al-Azhar University in Cairo at the time his village was destroyed. He received word that his parents were safe, but he lost 21 other family members. He subsequently began to receive firsthand reports of the terrible crimes that were being committed by the Sudanese government and its proxy force, the janjaweed.

It quickly became apparent to Yahya that Sudan's ruling regime was engaged in a campaign to rid western Sudan of its black African ethnic population. Yahya and other Sudanese students living in Cairo sought to alert the international community to the humanitarian crisis that had begun to unfold. In 1995, they formed the Representatives of the Massaleit Community in Exile (RMCE). The RMCE's founding members came from many different ethnic Sudanese backgrounds including the Massaleit, Fur, Dajo, Zagawa, Bargo, Gimir, Tama, Berty, Barno, and Meme, in addition to people from the Nuba Mountains, southern Sudan and elsewhere.

Believing that the pen is mightier than the sword, the RMCE sought to protect the people of Darfur through peaceful means, including advocacy and public education. With no financial resources, Yahya and other members of the RMCE began this work by writing reports and circulating them on foot to all the international embassies in Cairo. Their first major open letter to the international community, "The Hidden Slaughter and Ethnic Cleansing in Western Sudan,” was distributed this way in 1999. Over the next couple of years it was widely referenced by the United Nations General Assembly and Secretary-General Kofi Annan, along with organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. In this way, Yahya and other members of the RMCE were the first people to awaken the world to the unfolding genocide in Darfur.

Between 1999 and 2003, working in Cairo with the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Yahya and the RMCE were also able to sponsor more than 20,000 refugees from various parts of Sudan. They helped ensure that nearly 95% of the people fleeing Sudan received political asylum and resettlement in Europe, Canada, Australia and the United States.

In 2002, fearing reprisal from the Sudanese government for his humanitarian and advocacy work, Yahya sought political asylum in the United States. After his relocation to Charlottesville, Virginia, Yahya founded Damanga Coalition for Freedom and Democracy, in order to continue and expand on the work of the RM


Reuters reports

Darfur attack survivors tell of brutal killings

September 17, 2010

By Opheera McDoom

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Darfuri men were shot dead at point blank range during a surprise Arab militia raid on a busy market this month in which at least 39 people were killed and almost 50 injured, eyewitnesses said on Friday.

The attack on civilians was reminiscent of the early years of the counter-insurgency operation in Sudan's west, which took up arms against the government in 2003, complaining that the region had been neglected by Khartoum

The International Criminal Court in The Hague has since issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for genocide and war crimes in Darfur, charges he denies.

Details of the September 2 attack on the market in the village of Tabarat have not previously come to light. The government prevented peacekeepers from visiting the site until days later.

But five survivors of the attack told Reuters that heavily armed Arab militia had targeted male victims and shot many at point blank range.

One diplomat said the militia were likely from among those armed and mobilised by the government to quell the rebels. Those militia, known as Janjaweed, were responsible for mass rape, murder and looting. Many of the tribal militia still support the government but Khartoum has lost control over some.

In Tabarat, men were rounded up by militia wearing military uniforms who rode into the market on horses and camels pretending to be buying goods before spraying the shops with gunfire. Then vehicles mounted with machine guns and carrying militia fighters appeared and rounded up some of the men, survivors said.

"They laid them down and they came up close and shot them in their heads," Abakr Abdelkarim, 45, told Reuters by telephone from the town of Tawilla, where many of the victims had sought refuge and medical help.

"(Those killed) were all men and one woman -- some men were tied with rope behind the cars and dragged until they died."


Adam Saleh said he had run for his life and hidden in nearby fields to watch from afar. "They were targeting men -- all of them were shot in the head and chest, only those who were running away got shot in their legs and arms."

Nour Abdallah, 45, said the attackers let most of the women run away. She could not escape and so lay face down in the dirt. "They told me not to lift my head up or I would be shot too."

Saleh and others said after the attack they had gone to the joint U.N.-African Union (UNAMID) peacekeeping base in Tawilla to ask peacekeepers to come to Tabarat but they had refused.

"They also refused to come and help us recover the bodies," Saleh added.

UNAMID has said both rebels and the government prevented it getting access to the area.

A UNAMID spokesman said he could not comment on the witness reports but an internal document seen by Reuters showed UNAMID had received similar witness reports of men being executed.

The only aid agency working in Tawilla, Medecins Sans Frontieres, said it could confirm 39 people died and it had treated 46 injured, many with "serious gunshot wounds".

"We saw only men," said MSF head of mission Alessandro Tuzza. He said he could not comment on how the victims were shot but that MSF was still negotiating with the government to get access to the area in North Darfur province.

The witnesses said they had buried 41 bodies in common graves but more were still in the bushes around the market.

Sudan's army denied involvement in the attack and said the local government was investigating. "The North Darfur government have formed a security committee to investigate this."

Presidential adviser Ghazi Salaheddin visited the area on Friday on a fact-finding mission.

Kidnapping and violent banditry have become frequent in Darfur where years of impunity and the ready availability of arms have fuelled a breakdown in law and order, with foreign workers targeted for abductions even in the main towns.

Bashir expelled 13 of the largest aid agencies working in Darfur after the ICC arrest warrant last year and many gaps in the humanitarian operation have yet to be filled.

"We are begging the international aid agencies to come and give us food, water. We have women and children here sitting in the sun for days with no shelter. We have nothing," said Abdelkarim.

More ~ As-Obama-offers-to-meet-Sudan-leaders-culture-of-mistrust-grips-Khartoum

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