Sand and Sorrow

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8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6
HBO


No one does righteous indignation documentaries like HBO, and this feature-length docu shines a horrific light on the ongoing human rights atrocity that has been going down in the Darfur region of Sudan during the past four years.

Narrated by George Clooney, "Sand and Sorrow" lays out in graphic detail the events that have led to the ethnic-cleansing slaughter of hundreds of thousands of non-Arab native Sudanese civilians and the displacement of millions more at the hands of their government. Civil war is never pretty, but it's documented that this one long ago crossed the line to genocide.

Yet as this program makes clear, the use of that term has helped fuel an appalling diplomatic paralysis that has resulted in the international community mostly turning a blind eye, reacting with humanitarian aid and a threadbare peacekeeping force but no military intervention or political consequences.

The scope of the crimes still being committed by rebels on unarmed tribal peoples (including the gang rape of women and slaughter of children) is unfathomable, particularly as it relates to official policy sanctioned and carried out by leaders in Khartoum.

A series of experts show up here to voice their frustration at the feeble reaction of the Bush administration in particular. The docu forcefully makes the point that a decade after the genocide in Rwanda, it's happened, and continues to happen, again in Darfur.

"Sand" isn't just a compelling call to action on the part of an apathetic world; it's a powerful chronicle of just how shamefully easy it is for everybody to substitute rote condemnation for actual involvement. So much for "never again."
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