The media chooses which genocide matter
Why is the attack in France predominant when countries like Nigeria and Lebanon are suffering from similar, if not worse, atrocities?
Under President Omar al-Bashir’s powerful militia lies a bloody battlefield, Sudan.
You may not have heard of it, but I can’t blame you. If you Google “Sudan genocide,” you will not find a single article from major news organizations discussing the 400,000 lives have been lost in the ongoing war.
That’s because western journalism is hypocritical, saying that Black Lives Matter but only the black lives we choose to save.
The terrorist attacks of last Friday in Paris left more than 120 people dead and questions yet to be answered: what is the Islamic State’s next target? Will there be a response to the attacks? What will the UN do about it?
But these are political questions that most ordinary citizens don’t have an answer for.
There is a moral question that has intrigued social media users following the attacks in France, the answer to which may be just as difficult to find.
For the Paris attacks, Facebook implemented something called “Safety Check”, a way of letting people know you are safe after a natural disaster or terror attack. It enables social media users to know if friends and loved ones are safe as well.
“Safety Checks” for Nigerian bombings were only available on Wednesday, five days after the terrorist attacks in Paris.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a message to further explain his decision on his personal Facebook page.
“After the Paris attacks last week, we made the decision to use Safety Check for more tragic events like this going forward,” Zuckerberg said. “We’re now working quickly to develop criteria for the new policy and determine when and how this service can be most useful.”
Zuckerberg alone should not be blamed for this Eurocentric culture that undermines the lives of non-Westernized nations.
It would be anything but fair to assume that one life matters more than the other, and that is why I will not keep bringing up the argument that one European death makes headlines while 400,000 Africans never will.
The truth is that we should be reporting on all of them, because it would be inhumane not to.
Some 6.6 million people are reliant on some form of humanitarian assistance in Sudan, according to the European Commission.
This is the kind of assistance that Europe and the U.S. will hardly provide because their current foreign policy remains narrowly focused on Syria and Russia.
It’s not affecting Sudan alone. According to Genocide Watch, Iraq, Somalia, Nigeria and Myanmar are among the list of countries placed under genocide emergency alert by the United Nations.
The year will be over soon, and some of the most basic humanitarian questions remain unanswered and unsolved.
In the catalog of world issues, you would think mass killings would get a prioritized position. But, humans are a strange species. Thousands of civilians are dying in the hands of war, and we let their lives remain in the shadows of less-covered news.
Opinion Columnist Luiza Braga is a print journalism senior and may be reached at [email protected]