For years, many of us have read reports of the ongoing genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan, and wondered why world leaders have failed to step in. As many as 400,000 civilians have died(1) and over 2 million have been driven from their homes(2), and yet the United States and other leading nations won't intervene and stop the killing.
This week, we may have the best chance since the genocide began to capture national media attention and give our leaders a mandate to act. On Sunday, April 30th, tens of thousands of concerned Americans, organized by the Save Darfur coalition, will gather in Washington to demand a real multi-national peacekeeping force to protect civilians in Darfur and end the genocide—now.
To support this urgent call, we're launching a "virtual march" to end the genocide in Darfur. We'll announce the total number of virtual marchers and read some of your comments at the big rally in DC (with the national media looking on) and then we'll deliver every signature to Congress and the President. We're aiming to sign up 100,000 virtual marchers in time for the rally—can you help us get there?
You can join the virtual march against genocide by clicking here:
http://political.moveon.org/darfur?id=7 ... V4LWAA&t=2
In 2003, the Sudanese government launched a systematic campaign to massacre or drive out millions of Darfurians who happened to share the same ethnicity as a local rebel group.(3) Since then, "Janjaweed" militias, armed and funded by the Sudanese government, have swept into thousands of rural farming villages with guns, machetes, and even helicopter gunships. They typically kill or rape anyone unable to flee, leaving every home and crop field burned to the ground.(4)
Responding to calls from thousands of MoveOn members and many other groups, Congress and the White House officially labeled the conflict a "genocide" in mid 2004.(5) But nearly 2 years later, almost nothing has been done to actually stop the killing.
Experts agree that deploying a relatively small, armed and well-funded United Nations peacekeeping force could protect the civilian populations and allow a sustainable peace process to begin.(6) We wouldn't even need to commit new American troops. But the UN won't act unless leading nations, especially the United States, step up and insist on it. So why haven't we?
As the Los Angeles Times reported, the Bush administration has been relying on the Sudanese government, who used to harbor Osama Bin Laden, for military intelligence—even sending a private jet to fly one of the primary architects of the genocide to Washington for secret meetings with the CIA.(7) According to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, the administration is concerned that holding these Sudanese officials accountable could "disrupt cooperation."(8) This is simply an unacceptable trade-off.
To change things around, we must show President Bush and Congress that there's a real political reward for bold action—and a serious political cost for standing still. This week is our best chance yet to do just that: the DC rally will draw national media attention, and your names will be added to those the Save Darfur coalition has already collected in their "Million Voices for Darfur" campaign.
After our tragic failure to act in Rwanda, the world pledged never again to let a preventable genocide unfold before our eyes. The crisis in Darfur is the first great test of that pledge, and it's time to act.
Please sign up as "virtual marcher" today, and encourage your friends and family who are concerned about this issue to join you—we'll all need to spread to reach 100,000 virtual marchers this week.
http://political.moveon.org/darfur?id=7 ... V4LWAA&t=3
Thanks for all that you do,
–Ben, Wes, Tanya, Carrie and the MoveOn.org Political Action Team
Monday, April 24th, 2006
P.S. There is one prominent figure who is publicly against intervening to stop the genocide: Osama Bin Laden. Yesterday, he released a new tape condemning the presence of peace keepers and defending his old friends, the government of Sudan.(9)
P.P.S. Here are some links with additional information, resources and some powerful visuals about life in Darfur:
The Save Darfur Coalition is organizing this weekend's march. Learn more here:
A basic fact sheet on the genocide prepared by Human Rights Watch
Photos taken by Brian Steidle, one of three US Marines sent to observe the genocide
A video presentation on the current expansion of the genocide by the Pulitzer prize winning NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof
10 ways to get further involved from the Genocide Intervention Network
http://www.genocideintervention.net/adv ... things.php
1. "Darfur's real death toll" Washington Post, April 24, 2006
2. "5 truths about Darfur" Washington Post, April 26, 2006
3. Human Rights Watch
4. "The silence of bystanders" New York Times, March 19, 2006
5. The House of Representatives recognized the Darfur crisis as a genocide in July of 2004
"US House calls Darfur 'genocide'" BBC News, July 23 2004
Then Secretary of State Colin Powell followed suit in September of 2004
"Powell declares genocide in Sudan", BBC News, September 9, 2004
6. "Beyond strong words on Darfur, New York Times, February 22, 2006
7. "Official Pariah Sudan Valuable to America's War on Terrorism," Los Angeles Times, April 29, 2005
8. "Official Pariah Sudan Valuable to America's War on Terrorism," Los Angeles Times, April 29, 2005
9. "On tape, Bin Laden warns of long war" Washington Post, April 24, 2006
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