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'Not On Our Watch': A Mission to End Genocide

Actor Don Cheadle once took part in a conversation that could be seen as a commentary on today's news.

It was in the movie Hotel Rwanda, in which he portrayed Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager who sheltered more than 1,200 people during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

In the movie, Cheadle thanks a Western TV cameraman for sending footage of the killing to the West, saying it would prompt the international community to intervene.

The cameraman replies, "I think if people see this footage, they'll say, 'Oh my God, that's horrible,' and then go on eating their dinners."

Now Cheadle is trying to prevent a similar reaction to what's been labeled genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan.

In 2005 he traveled to Sudan with John Prendergast, a former Clinton administration official who is now a senior adviser to the International Crisis Group. They visited a refugee camp for people who had fled the violence in Darfur, and heard first-hand accounts of killings, rape, torture and forced evacuations.

Cheadle and Prendergast are urging ordinary citizens to speak out to end the suffering in Darfur.

They are co-authors of a new book, Not On Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond, which maintains that people can influence their governments to act.

"If U.S. citizens can make enough noise to press their government to do what's right, then we will have saved literally tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives in Darfur," Prendergast says.

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Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.