A couple of weeks ago, I Directed a clip for the Sudan365 Peace campaign featuring drummers from Senegal, Ghana, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Japan, Mexico, Brasil, Russia, Australia, Dubai, France, Spain, UK as well as the drummers from Radiohead, Elbow, Pink Floyd, The Police, Snow Patrol etc all keeping a beat which travels round the world for Peace in Sudan. Unbelievably it got over 100,000 watches on youtube in the first week: [youtube http://youtube.com/w/?v=NJMzB48r8rI]
The situation in Sudan is dire. Recently, the Civil War there claimed over 2 million lives and the major humanitarian agencies all now say that the violence which looks about to kick off there again will be worse than Darfur. It is vital to demand that the World Leaders (such that they are) action a Peace plan beginning right now.
Somehow, in the process of making this clip I was asked to be the spokesperson for Crisis Action and the Sudan 365 Campaign on the Radio and TV News. I was hesitant to agree and felt a bit funny as I am no expert on the complex issues there and had only come to this a few weeks earlier. Still, I rocked up at the demo outside 10 Downing St. and drummed away with all the drummers, and when they beckoned me over, did interviews with BBC, Reuters, and the other News agencies. The weird thing was that just before each interview, whoever was chaperoning me made sure to say to me: "Whatever you do, just don't say 'Genocide'." Almost with a conspiratorial wink. It really wrong- footed me and I ended up having heated discussions with them about why? I mean, surely if millions of people are being murdered by another group, whether is be a country's army or rebels, then it's Genocide isn't it?
Genocide, they informed me, is only Genocide if the millions of people being murdered are being murdered with the express intention of wiping them out 'as a race'. But if millions of people are being murdered because they are in the middle of a Civil War or for any other reason, then it doesn't count as Genocide and you're not allowed to use that word.
The problem is that unless you use the 'G' word, it simply doesn't pack the same punch. It doesn't get across to whoever might be listening the scale of the mass murder. Surely communicating the full scale of the horror is more important that adhering to the grammatical nuances of Genocide definition?
'No', they said.
So folks, we need a new word. Something that communicates the immense horror of millions of innocent people being murdered but doesn't confuse the intention of the uber-mass-murderers with race-driven uber- mass-murderers. Otherwise I fear, we will be reduced to phrases like 'a return to the horrific violence' which, to me, tends to understate the magnitude of the Genocide-sized nightmare the Sudan are about to face.
Suggestions pleas to http://www.sudan365.org/