STEVE INSKEEP, host:
On a recent trip to refugee camps along Darfur's border with Chad, Human Rights Watch workers stumbled upon some unexpected testimony. Young witnesses aged seven to 17 drew pictures of rampant violence against them in their villages. Their work is the first visual testament to the events in Darfur because so far, no one has been able to capture an attack on film. Dina Temple-Raston reports.
DINA TEMPLE-RASTON reporting:
Aid workers at a refugee camp in Teenid(ph), Chad, on Sudan's western border, passed out crayons and paper to children to keep them busy while Human Rights Watch officials interviewed their parents. Without prompting or instruction, the young artists put pen to paper and produced some harrowing images, the visions of an unfolding genocide.
Ms. MINKY WORDEN (Media Director, Human Rights Watch): This is a drawing that encapsulates the entire Darfur conflict.
TEMPLE-RASTON: Minky Worden is the media director at Human Rights Watch in New York. She's in a cavernous room on the Lower East Side in New York University's Edgar Bronfman Center, where more than 27 of the children's drawings are on display through Labor Day, the first stop in the national tour. She describes one of the drawings by Taha, a 13-year-old from Darfur.
Ms. WORDEN: You see the government helicopters bombing the villages. You see armored personnel carriers rolling into the villages. You see these distinctive Darfurian conical huts ablaze. You see the people fleeing in terror. And the amazing thing about this drawing is the ability of this child, age 13 or so, to make stick figures show absolute terror.
TEMPLE-RASTON: Their stick arms are raised over their heads in surrender. The roofs of their village huts are colored red with flames. Helicopters circle above. APCs are shooting into their huts. Worden says his drawing and dozens of others are providing new evidence that the government in Khartoum is involved with the ethnic cleansing in Darfur.
Ms. WORDEN: The Janjaweed, the paramilitaries who were trained and armed and backed by the Sudanese government, they have horses, they have camels. They do not have airplanes, they do not have helicopters, and they do not have the heavy artillery that you see in so many of these drawings.
TEMPLE-RASTON: Human Rights Watch says the weapons' detail is chilling. Marc Garlasco is a military analyst with the group. He has a pile of refugee children drawings on his desk and has photographs of military hardware on his computer screen. He points to one of the children's drawings which show two armed men on a camel.
Mr. MARC GARLASCO (Military Analyst, Human Rights Watch): There's a guy sitting in the front, and he has an AK-47. It's a folding-stock AK-47, and so the kid had to really know that and look at it and see what it is. But the guy in the back has got a FAL, which is the Belgian assault rifle, and you can just look at the picture and see how the kid has drawn it, with that very boxy magazine.
TEMPLE-RASTON: He turns to another drawing of a diamond-shaped attack plane flying over a village.
Mr. GARLASCO: We know that the Sudanese purchased MiG-21's from Russia in the 1960s, and when you look at some of these pictures, you can see this--what looks like--to be a very diamond-shaped aircraft that's kind of flying around on their drawing. And it's a very iconic picture of a MiG-21, and it was just amazing to me that I could look at it when the pictures were put in front of me, and I thought, `Well, jeez, you know, this kid is seeing a MiG-21 attacking them.'
TEMPLE-RASTON: As many as 200,000 people have died in Darfur since 2003, and the UN estimates 2.4 million people have been displaced. The government in Khartoum has said some rogue elements in the military are responsible for the violence. They vowed to find the perpetrators and try them. The International Criminal Court in The Hague is also looking to prosecutions. And while the children's renderings may not be admissible in court, the raw emotion of the show does more than 100 testimonial interviews ever could, because these children so clearly haven't edited themselves. They've only drawn as best they could what they've seen. For NPR News, I'm Dina Temple-Raston.
INSKEEP: To see the conflict in Darfur as it looks like through a child's eyes, go to npr.org.
This is NPR News.
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