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Republican judge lectures about Sudan

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Before the screen, Justice Sam Griffith of the Texas' 12th Court of Appeals spoke about his two trips to Sudan, a country in norther Africa torn by war and genocide. Speaking a mile-a-minute in a staccato fashion, Griffith, a Starrville resident, related his experiences in the Christian mission field at Tuesday night's monthly meeting of the Nacogdoches County Republican Party. "What you know about Sudan does not cover Southern Sudan," he said, explaining the difference between the Darfur province, which receives worldwide media attention, and the southern region of the country, which receives very little. "When they talk about the people who have been killed, they only talk about the ones killed in Darfur, not the black Christians," Griffith said. "According to the media, Christians don't matter." The genocide in Darfur has received American media interest because it involves Muslims killing Muslims, he said. But, Christians in the south have been killed by the Sudanese government for decades, he said. In the two Sudanese civil wars, more than 2 million have been killed in Southern Sudan, and more than 4 million have been driven into Ugandan refugee camps. Human rights groups estimate that 200,000 to 400,000 have been killed in the Darfur conflict between militia and tribesmen. That conflict has received the bulk of media attention, Griffith said, and "Hollywood" types have been upset over the deaths. "They should (be upset)," he said. "They shouldn't kill a few hundred thousand people." For two weeks in February, Griffith and a group of four others led Christian revivals in Southern Sudan and Northern Uganda, preaching in English - the common language - to the large crowds. His video of the trip played throughout the lecture, showing the mile-wide Nile River, sketchy runways and equally sketchy airplanes and whole fish being cooked outdoors. Griffith joked that an unmarried man with no family can go to a war-torn region. "Everybody was wondering what would happen if I got killed," he said. "It would be what I called the ultimate upgrade. And, I would open up an opportunity for another Smith County politician." At the lecture's end, Griffith painted a grim picture of Southern Sudan's future. Even though a peace treaty signed Jan. 9, 2005, ended the second Sudan Civil War and granted the area autonomy, Griffith said the region's oil and gas reserves will trigger more conflict. "The future of Sudan is basically unheard of suicide," he said. "Everybody we met will either be dead or in refugee camps in five years."