Children's art imitates horrors of Darfur
Human Rights Watch researcher: Drawings verify Sudan's role
From Marissa Muller
A 13-year-old drew these images of attackers on horses and camels.
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Children's drawings depicting the horrors of the Sudan conflict are on exhibit at New York University, and a Human Rights Watch researcher says several show human rights violations.
The exhibit is titled "The Smallest Witnesses: The Conflict in Darfur Through Children's Eyes."
The drawings were made by children age 8 to 17 in Darfur and were organized by Human Rights Watch.
"For the first time we have graphic representation of the crimes," said Olivier Bercault, a Human Rights Watch researcher.
The crayon-and-pencil images are graphic. They depict planes bombing villages, huts engulfed in flames, soldiers gunning down civilians, women being raped.
The works were collected in February 2005 by Bercault and Dr. Annie Sparrow from Human Rights Watch.
Bercault and Sparrow gave children in nine Darfur refugee camps crayons and paper to keep them occupied as they interviewed their parents about alleged human rights violations in their villages.
Without any direction, the children drew images of war: bombs, guns and death, Bercault said.
Bercault recalled asking one of the artists -- a young girl -- about her drawing.
"Why is her face painted red?" Bercault said he asked the girl. "She said, 'Because she has been shot in the face.' "
Exhibit-goer and student Joel Nay called the drawings "very real."
"I personally feel children are often the most perceptive people. ... It is not biased. It is their day-to-day observation, and we can learn a lot from these pictures."
Bercault believes the artwork is evidence of the Sudanese government's involvement in human rights violations.
"The government of Sudan has always been denying being involved in this war, (saying) it is a tribal conflict between the Africans, who are the victims, and the Arab militias," Bercault said.
"The tribes have no planes. ... That is evidence of the involvement of the government of Sudan with its armed planes bombing civilians and villages around Darfur."
The exhibit of 27 drawings is on display through September 6.
It then will travel to Chicago, Illinois; San Francisco, California; Toronto, Ontario; and Hamburg and Munich, Germany.
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