Destination Darfur: A Critique

Todd

Sierrapicwomanof the yeargrayI wasn’t going to blog about Sierra Scott’s Darfur “documentary” – I thought it would die on its own. But she’s travelled to DC, met with some fairly influential people and is now tweeting about how Save Darfur is a corrupt organization and doesn’t deserve our dollars. I can’t abide such things.

Two Sundays ago, Hayley and I went to see “Destination Darfur,” a documentary created by Sierra P. Scott. Scott traveled to Sudan to uncover the “true” story of what’s happening there and to uncover the mistruths that the media is propagating about the conflict.

The documentary started with a line that said, “What if I told you everything you knew about Darfur was wrong?” She then proceeded to show through interviews and footage that there isn’t any genocide or fighting – or, at the least, that the reports from the media around the world are greatly exaggerated.

Unfortunately, she primarily spoke to current or former government officials, only visited two displacement camps and never visited southern Darfur at all – the area most heavily traumatized by the conflict. She even said that she had been given full access to go wherever and speak with whomever she wanted. Which means, if that’s true, she chose not to tell the whole story.

The documentary ended up feeling like a propaganda piece for the Sudanese government. Just to highlight this, at one point, she compared the Darfuri conflict to our own Civil War, drawing parallels between Omar Al-Bashir (Sudan’s president) and Abraham Lincoln.

In no way could I be considered an expert on Darfur. But I’m not a fool. The fact that she has been become a spokesperson for the Sudanese government is disturbing and frightening and her statements and documentary minimize the deaths and suffering of millions of people there.

If you want some more information about the Darfur crisis, I encourage you to visit Enough Project or Amnesty International’s Eyes on Darfur. Also, check out the Social Science Research Center’s “Making Sense of Darfur” blog – particularly this post. And then I encourage you to watch Scott’s film for yourself. Apparently it will be added to DarfurStory.com soon. As soon as it’s live, I’ll be sure to link to it and include further critique here.

If you’ve had the chance to see it, what did you think?

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6 Comments

  1. Kristin
    June 25, 2009 at 10:30 am — Reply

    good post, T.

  2. Tim Davis
    June 25, 2009 at 12:12 pm — Reply

    I find it funny that a woman who would make a film about Darfur would also have a Glamour Shot.

  3. lkelly
    June 25, 2009 at 12:26 pm — Reply

    A great resource for unbiased info on Darfur is the UN High Commission on Refugees. It not only helped some 200,000 Sudanese refugees that fled to other countries, it employed former journalists to document their stories. Here is a link to a compilation of info from the Web site: http://tinyurl.com/nxkj26

  4. lkelly
    June 25, 2009 at 12:30 pm — Reply

    Correction to my earlier post: that 200,000 # was for refugees just in eastern Chad…. there were more folks who fled to other countries….

  5. Hayley
    June 25, 2009 at 12:51 pm — Reply

    The most offensive part of the documentary to me was Scott’s failure to acknowledge the rapes occurring at displacement camps in Southern Darfur and Chad. She went to a couple of camps in Northern Darfur and stated that the women at those camps can go freely about their daily business with no fear of being raped. She didn’t discuss the conditions for women at camps in Southern Darfur or Chad, where women do live in fear of sexual attacks. I understand Scott ran out of time and wasn’t able to visit camps in Southern Darfur, but she failed to even mention reports of violence committed against women at these other camps, giving the impression that the women in all camps are safe and living somewhat normal lives. It’s irresponsible to point to two camps and claim the lives led by the people in those camps represent the lives led at every camp. The Physicians for Human Rights recently published a study on women refugees in Darfur and Chad and found that rape and sexual violence is still common for these women. You can read it here.

    There’s not a lot I can do for the women of Darfur, other than buying them stoves and giving money to Save Darfur (I’ve done both, and I feel like it was money well spent). What I can do is respect them by not claiming that their reports of rape are blown out of proportion. I can honor them by not minimizing the atrocities committed against them. I can treat them as fellow daughters of God by not understating the evil they’ve experienced.

  6. June 25, 2009 at 1:43 pm — Reply

    There’s not a lot I can do for the women of Darfur, other than buying them stoves and giving money to Save Darfur (I’ve done both, and I feel like it was money well spent). What I can do is respect them by not claiming that their reports of rape are blown out of proportion. I can honor them by not minimizing the atrocities committed against them. I can treat them as fellow daughters of God by not understating the evil they’ve experienced.

    Extraordinarily well said, Hayley.

    And thanks for the post & the links, Todd. I wasn’t aware of Scott’s documentary, but I’m not as well educated about the situation in Darfur, as I should be, either.

    I’m always suspicious of journalists or (“experts”) whose reporting (or “expertise”) contradicts well-documented facts or a widely held consensus. One wonders how much attention a Darfur documentary that reiterated what people already know would have received.

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Destination Darfur: A Critique