01 May 2006
Yesterday nearly 15,000 people a rally in Washington to urge President Bush to take stronger measures to end the violence in Darfur, which the American government itself described as genocide as far back as 2004.
The rally was addressed by a wide range of speakers including Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel and Paul Rusesabagina who saved 1200 Tutsis and moderate Hutus from slaughter at the hands of the Interhamwe. story Washington Post
The conflict in Darfur has been rolling on since February 2003, when rebels launched attacks seeking greater autonomy. In response the Sudanese government sent troops and pro-government muslim militias (the Janjaweed) to quell the uprising. The militias commenced a campaign of terror, killing and raping civilians mostly from non-Arab but muslim ethnic groups, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee their villages. At present the humanitarian situation in Darfur is worsening with 60,000 Darfur villagers fleeing to neighbouring Chad in the last month alone according to the United Nations. Diplomatic and political efforts have so far failed to stop the violence: even today rebel groups have just rejected an African Union brokered settlement and the prospect for peace in the region looks bleak.
While the African Union has a peace keeping force in the ground in Darfur, it is just 7000 strong and is responsible for an area the size of France. Leaving aside Bin Laden’s recent pathetic rant about resisting “crusaders” in Sudan, can we stand by and let our Governments ignore the plight of Darfur in the same way that they did Rwanda just 12 years ago?
What can we do? There are many organizations we can support that are bringing pressure to bear on our governments to act, including: Save Darfur, Survivors United,Genocide Intervention Network and the Aegis Trust
There are many other sources of information on the internet: A google search on Darfur will bring over 41 million results but the superb Sudan Watch news blog is highly recommended as is My Camera was not Nearly Enough,Brian Steidle’s photo essay for US Holocaust Memorial website. I would also recommend these reports by Medecins Sans Frontieres and Amnesty International