One year ago a small group of friends with shared experiences in the most challenged pockets of the world began a discussion about the persistence of genocide and crimes against humanity, the inability of the world’s institutions to prevent or stop them, the unwillingness of our leaders to intervene and what, if anything, could be done differently. From that discussion emerged a way that bypasses governments and allows individuals to take responsibility for ending genocide. The essential elements are sophisticated real-time technology, the individuals’ willingness to take measured risks, the aggressive use of media and the linking in innovative patterns of the various parties of refugees, rebels, Janjaweed (we call them J-Js), the Government of Sudan and its President Omar al-Bashir, the world audience and our volunteers.
Word spread and volunteers representing several countries, including Muslim countries, have found their way to us on their own by word of mouth. Our small group has evolved into a larger group of individuals with the common goal of ending genocide as volunteers continue to come. We are all different. So much so that team member Maggie called us a group of ordinary mismatched individuals, which is how we describe ourselves now. I would add that these individuals are also spirited and courageous.
Our strategy in its entirety is untested, risky and heavy with variables difficult to weigh, though portions of it have been applied successfully here and there sufficiently to encourage us. We believe we are pursuing a sensible course given the lack of alternatives and growing more confident that success is possible. More importantly, we recognize that the risk to ourselves is necessary, though we have tactics to mitigate that risk.
As our plans and preparations have advanced, we have become more committed. The failure of international and governmental institutions to stop genocide sets our imperative to act in stark relief. General Romeo Dallaire, the tireless commander of the UN Peacekeeping mission during the genocide in Rwanda, mentions “The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda” on the cover of his book about the experience. To continue to rely on the UN and its member states rather than to take personal responsibility perpetuates that failure. This band of spirited volunteers refuses to allow the failures of our leaders to define them. They do not accept the status quo. They do accept the responsibility for stopping genocide. Whether they fail or make history they are determined to keep their humanity.
Terry Nickelson, Executive Director