Google Earth gives more detailed information on destruction in Darfur

Crisis in Darfur 2

I first covered Crisis in Darfur over two years ago.

Google and the US Holocaust Museum are now providing more detailed information through Google Earth of atrocities on the ground. As Google notes in its Google Earth blog,

Now the Museum is providing, through its partnership with Google Earth, the most detailed picture to date of the scope and nature of the destruction that occurred during the genocide in Darfur. That thousands of villages were destroyed has been known for some time; these new data document the true enormity of the destruction.

The blog entry goes on to say that,

The web is making it easier to take part in bearing witness to the worst crimes on the planet. Now, with millions throughout Sudan still at serious risk of violence, we must follow through on the more vital task- putting pressure on the international community to help create sustainable peace throughout Sudan. The perpetrators of mass violence in Sudan and elsewhere know that the world is watching.

It is disappointing to see that Google bandies the term genocide, especially in reference to Darfur, without contesting its validity. Such a contestation does not take away from the need to bear witness to and bring to justice perpetrators of atrocities on the ground. Google points to a vital point – the divide between knowing and acting, or the divide between bearing witness and the political will necessary to act against perpetrators. These are vexed questions, for which visualisation along the lines of Crisis in Darfur contribute to the resolution of by rendering complex data, spread over time, more easily accessible to the general public as well as policymakers, even if they choose to disbelieve and question. An informed debate on atrocities is far more desirable than denials and allegations in the absence of information.

I wish the same degree of detail was available for the Vanni region in Sri Lanka, to ascertain the degree to which civilians were killed by the LTTE and Government at the height of war earlier this year.

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