In Darfur, the threat of genocide being committed under our own eyes seems imminent. The images of despair and dilapidation from the world's largest refugee camp will keep haunting us. We cannot close our hearts anymore for the call of desperate children. Ajeka: "Man, where on earth art thou?"

Fortunately, after three tauntingly slow years in which the murder of hundreds of thousands of people continued, a world-wide movement of compassion and indignation has arisen. We, religious communities in the Netherlands, join in with this movement. We may not and cannot stand idly aside while others are causing death to our fellow-men. When the lessons of mass murders in recent history leave us unperturbed, the light will surely go out.

After the Second World War, the UN has been established with the aim to prevent genocide. In 2005 they have concluded that states have the primary duty to protect their citizens and that the international community has the responsibility to act when the government refuses to offer this protection. Now is the hour of truth: are we prepared to live by our promises of co-responsibility and humanity or will we, again, allow ourselves to be forced into passivity by the obstinacy of the Sudanese government and a series of sham arguments? Every day counts.

To the Sudanese government we say: "Do not harden your heart. Allow UN forces to do their protective job. Nothing more, nothing less, so that human lives are spared."

To the Security Council we say: "Smooth the way for the men and women from the community of nations who may act as saviours in the coming days and weeks."


To ourselves, we say: "Let our protest against inhumanity be deafening. Let us place a stronghold of safety around God's creatures in Darfur."

The prophet Isaiah calls out: "Peace, peace, to him that is far off and to him that is near". If there is no peace and protection for the displaced persons in Darfur, there is no peace for us. Both they and we, images of God, are indissolubly linked with one another.

To our fellow human beings in Darfur we say: "You are of unlimited importance to us. We do not want you to suffer. We do not want you to disappear. We want you to live."

Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp
The Hague, 21 September 2006

Read more about the background of the statement here.

The Soetendorp Institute


Jacob Soetendorp Institute for Human Values
Van Wijngaerdenstraat 21
2596 TW The Hague
The Netherlands