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News Release – Nuba Genocide

NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, PLEASE  

Contact: Steven Tabakin, 212-460-5235

ACTIVE GENOCIDE IN SUDAN’S NUBA MOUNTAINS
AMERICAN DOCTOR TOM CATENA PROVIDES PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE
 Horrifying Images Reveal Children Burned and Maimed by Indiscriminate Aerial Bombing and Artillery Fire

 On Wednesday, February 3rd 2015, Dr. Tom Catena, an American physician who since 2008 has been essentially the only trained medical doctor serving the people of the Nuba Mountains at the Mother of Mercy Hospital in Gidel, Sudan, released horrifying photos he took of badly-maimed and horribly-burned people, mostly women and children, who are victims of indiscriminate bombings and artillery attacks by Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) under the control of indicted war criminal Omar Al-Bashir.

Dr. Tom Catena’s photos show some of the victims who were able to reach the other of Mercy Hospital in recent weeks:

  • Jan 25th – artillery shelling. Photo shows a young woman whose left leg was blown off below the knee;
  • February 1st bombardment from Russian-made Antonov planes. Photo shows 10-year-old girl who lost her foot.
  • February 2nd – bombardment from Russian-made Antonov planes. Photo shows 7-year-old boy, horribly disfigured;
  • Feb 3rd – Artillery shelling – six children badly burned (ages 5,6, 13, 2, 7, 10). Three children killed (ages 18, 12, 9);
  • February 7, 2015 – 28-year-old civilian male, father of three, killed by Antonov Bombardment near Tess, Nuba Mountains.

The photos and descriptions were sent from Dr. Tom Catena by email to Sudan expert Eric Reeves, a professor at Smith College, who has spent the last 16 years documenting genocide in Sudan, focusing on the Nuba Mountains region in South Kordofan in particular. He published the images on his website at http://sudanreeves.org. Dr. Reeves wrote in an email, “This should be major news… it has been when similar artillery/bombings have occurred in Bosnia, Syria… and number of places. Even Boko Haram gets much more news attention; and horrible as they are, they’ve done nothing the equivalent of what Tom sees, what’s occurring in Darfur… or Blue Nile.”

The photos were also sent by email to film producer Steven Tabakin, who published the photos and captions on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/DoctorTomCatena. The photos have gainied the attention of Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times and Greta Van Sustern of Fox News who, along with warnings of their disturbing content, shared the images with their followers on Twitter — but there has been little attention to the ongoing genocide in print or broadcast media with the recent exceptions of Al Jazeera and Radio France Internationale.

The genocidal bombings and cold-blooded starvation in the Nuba Mountains have been largely ignored by the US media, while Sudan’s president Omar Al-bashir, who was indicted by the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity on March 4, 2009, has thus far evaded the warrant for his arrest. The Nuba Mountains, located in the South Kordofan state, has been in crisis since 2011, with constant bombardment forcing people to live in caves and making it impossible to cultivate fields. Most of the Nuba are subsistence farmers so there is a serious hunger crisis. Journalists, along with all foreign aid and NGOs have been banned from the area. The attacks have been escalating in recent weeks, with the deliberate targeting of a Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) unit on January 20, 2015, forcing the suspension of medical activities and leaving Dr. Tom Catena as the sole physician for over 1 million people.

Dr. Tom Catena was born and raised in Amsterdam, NY in a family of seven children. He attended Brown University (’86), studying mechanical engineering. He excelled both in the classroom and on the football field, winning honors as an Honorable Mention All-American and All-Ivy League nose guard while becoming a Rhodes Scholar candidate. Upon graduation, Catena decided to pursue a medical career, enrolling at the Duke University School of Medicine in on a U.S. Navy scholarship. He entered the United States Navy in 1992, becoming a Naval Flight Surgeon. After fulfilling his Navy obligation, he completed a residency in family medicine at Union Hospital in Terre Haute, Ind. During his residency, he began his medical foray into the developing world with mission trips to Guyana and Honduras. In 1999, he began his service as a missionary doctor, becoming a volunteer physician with the Catholic Medical Mission Board at hospitals in Mutomo and Nairobi, Kenya.

In 2007, Catena became the medical director and sole physician at Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Nuba Mountains region of the Sudan, a country where civil war has been raging for years. He established the facility with Bishop Macram Gassis, and on opening day in 2008, he treated more than 200 patients. Since then, he has continued at a relentless pace, dealing with everything from malaria and leprosy to brain surgery. His unyielding responsibilities extend to training nurses and hospital administration.

In 2011, the civil war escalated and conditions at the hospital became more intense. In addition to those wounded by the fighting, many of them children, Catena and his staff faced a particularly severe malaria outbreak. He was given the choice to evacuate, but he refused, stating, “As the only doctor in the only hospital in the region, I could not leave in good conscience.”

Catena was named a “Catholic Hero” by Catholic Digest in 2010, and he has been quoted in numerous international publications, reporting on the ongoing civil war in the Sudan. Catena’s many accolades include the 2013 Brown Alumni Association Williams Rogers Award and being recognized as a 2013 Ivy Football Association Honoree. On December 10, 2014, he was awarded the National Football Foundation’s prestigious Gold Medal for Humanitarian Service. NFF Chairman Archie Manning remarked, “Tom Catena stands as an inspiration to us all, having created a powerful path for making a difference in one of the bleakest places on earth.” Interviews with Dr. Tom Catena can be facilitated by telephone or Skype.

Eric Reeves is Professor of English Language and Literature at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. He has spent the past sixteen years working virtually full-time as a Sudan researcher and analyst, publishing extensively both in the US and internationally. He has testified several times before the Congress, has lectured widely in academic settings, and has served as a consultant to a number of human rights and humanitarian organizations operating in Sudan. Working independently, he has written on all aspects of Sudan’s recent history. He has recently published Compromising with Evil: An archival history of greater Sudan, 2007 — 2012 (available at no cost as an eBook). Dr. Reeves is available for interviews.

Ryan Boyette, another American who lives in the Nuba Mountains, founded Nuba Reports, which facilitates and publishes eye-witness video accounts of the attacks on the Nuba.

Other subjects include filmmaker Andrew Berend, whose documentary Madina’s Dream will premiere at the SXSW Film Festival in March. “An unflinching and poetic glimpse into a forgotten war, Madina’s Dream tells the story of rebels and refugees fighting to survive in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains.”

The documentary Beats of the Anatovs from Hajooj Kuka premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September, 2014 and won the Audience Award.

Project Daniel is a project from Not Impossible Labs that uses 3-D prinitng technology to provide prosthetic limbs to war victims. Elliot Kotek and Mick Ebeling were inspired by Dr. Tom Catena’s patient Daniel Omar, 16, who lost both arms in a bombing in the Nuba Mountains. The team collaborated with Dr. Tom Catena to set up a 3D printing lab at the Mother of Mercy Hospital and created prostethic arms for Daniel and other victims of bombardment. There is an independent documentary film in the works.

In January 2014, a large shipment of the life-saving therapeutic food supplements Plumpy Nut and Plumpy Sup reached Dr. Tom Catena at the Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Nuba Mountains. These products, which are designed to treat severe malnutrition, were manufactured in Providence, RI by the non-profit company Edesia; then loaded onto a 20-foot container in Boston; sailed around Africa to Saudia Arabia and eventually to Mombassa, Kenya; then trucked to Lokichoggio, Kenya to be held through the rainy season; then loaded onto 3 cargo flights to Yida refugee camp in South Sudan; and finally taken by truck to the Nuba Mountains. This was made possible by a grant from generous US family foundation though Edesia to manufacture the products, a gift from the Whitton-Spector Foundation to cover ocean freight, funding from the Fund for Sudan for the flights – with support from the Diocese of El Obedeid in Nairobi, Tashtego Films in New York City and many other individuals and organizations.

Tashtego Films hosts a Vimeo channel with short documentary pieces and interviews with Dr. Tom Catena: http://vimeo.com/channels/drtomcatena

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TASHTEGO FILMS® is a New York-based film, television and new media production company dedicated to the the idea that great storytelling has the power to transform individuals and societies. Founded by Margaret Whitton, Steven Tabakin and Warren Spector, Tashtego Films collaborates with some of our finest writers, actors and filmmakers to create works that enlighten, inspire, provoke and entertain.

MDR’S ABSENCE ANNOUNCES COMPLETE CASTING

Olympia DukakisMIDTOWN DIRECT REP (MDR), the resident theater company at South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), is pleased to announce that Academy Award®-winner Olympia Dukakis will be joined by Midtown Direct Rep company members SEBASTIAN ARCELUS, JENNY BACON, EMILY BAUER and STEPHANIE KURTZUBA plus special guests KENDRA JAIN and DAN ZISKIE in a one-night-only staged reading of ABSENCE, a new play about memory loss. Former-actress turned director Margaret Whitton stages this new work by emerging playwright Peter M. Floyd that was honored by the Kennedy Center’s 2012 Jean Kennedy Smith Award and the 2012 Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Competition. The performance, part of MDR’s Theatre in the Loft series focusing on new and innovative American theatre, is Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 7 pm at SOPAC (One SOPAC Way, South Orange, NJ, 07079). Tickets, which are $15, are available at http://www.sopacnow.org/673/MDR-in-the-Loft-Jan5 or by calling 973-313-ARTS (2787). The performance will be followed by a discussion with the playwright, the cast and creative team.

In ABSENCE, an excitingly theatrical play about aging, power, grace and imagination, Olympia Dukakis plays Helen, an iron-willed woman who suffers from memory loss. As her sense of self dissolves with her memories, she struggles to find meaning in her new existence.

The reading of ABSENCE stars Sebastian Arcelus (House of Cards), Jenny Bacon (My Name is Asher Lev), Olympia Dukakis (Academy Award®/Golden Globe for Moonstruck), Kendra Jain (New Year’s Eve), Stephanie Kurtzuba (The Wolf of Wall Street) and Dan Ziskie (Treme).

Emily Bauer reads stage directions and James Latus is the stage manager.

Olympia Dukakis, who appeared in the acclaimed 2006 film Away from Her as the spouse of an Alzheimer’s victim, has been an outspoken advocate for health and has been open about her experience as caregiver for her own mother who suffered from Alzheimer’s. “When my mother realized she was losing it, she did not want to be taken anywhere” she remarked in an interview. “I had tried with nurses around the clock, but she screamed and yelled at them and accused them of stealing from her. She was a terror. But then there’s the moment when the light comes through for a brief period of time… after several years of not knowing me, my mother knew me when I walked in.”

Playwright Peter M. Floyd says the character Helen Bastion is not based upon his mother, who died from Alzheimer’s in recent years, but that the play is informed by what his family went through.

According a recent report by The Alzheimer’s Association, one in three seniors die with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. In 2013, an estimated 5.2 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease.

Director Margaret Whitton – a longtime actress in theater, film and television – made her feature film directing debut in 2011 with A Bird of the Air and served as co-executive producer on the HBO documentary Casting By about the process of film casting and her dear friend, the legendary casting director Marion Dougherty who suffered from dementia during the last years of her life, which ended in 2011. “When I read Peter’s play,” she said, “I immediately recognized that this was written by someone with personal experience as a caregiver. It does an amazing job capturing the point of view of this woman who knows that she is losing herself — but along with that horror it captures moments of pure, almost childlike joy.  I was immediately drawn to it.”

Midtown Direct Rep is thrilled and honored that Olympia Dukakis, an actress of unmatched stature, will join MDR company members, guest actors, and director Margaret Whitton in helping to launch this important new American play,” said MDR Artistic Producer Steven Tabakin.  “We’re indebted to Peter M. Floyd for such a beautiful piece of writing, and we are excited that our audience at SOPAC will be among the first to be exposed to this extraordinary new work.”