Rotting corpses, starving babies, burned-out villages. Those aren’t the kinds of images kids at San Anselmo’s Sir Francis Drake High School usually see when they crowd into the gym for an assembly.
But they got an eyeful one recent morning when Mark Brecke, a resourceful San Francisco photographer who’s spent a decade documenting mass murder and ethnic cleansing, served up a sobering tutorial on genocide. He showed slides from the decimated Darfur region of Sudan, where he lived for five weeks with roving rebels of the Sudanese Liberation Army, and from the camps in neighboring Chad, where survivors find refuge from the slaughter and forced starvation that has killed more than 400,000 people since 2003.
“These images are not easy to take, that’s for sure,” said Brecke, a soft-spoken, fair-haired man in his late 30s, showing a picture of a partially decomposed body lying in the dirt. “But they’re necessary. Because you are witnessing a mass crime scene, if you want to call it that.”