Sunday, April 30, 2006

Another Horror of Greed

Dearest Friends of the Heart,

It's time for Americans and our allies to take a stand against the genocide in Darfur, Sudan. [1,2] 2] Since 2003, as many as 400,000 Black Africans have been killed[1] and over 2 million Thousands have been driven from their homes, in what the UN has called the "biggest humanitarian crisis in modern history." It's genocide, plain and simple, but no one is doing what's necessary to stop it.

Our voices should be among the loudest calling for an end to the mass murder of Black Africans, and, as citizens of the most powerful country in the world, we have a very real ability to make a difference. Speaking of the genocide in Rwanda, the late Senator Paul Simon said, "If every member of the House and Senate had received 100 letters from people back home saying, 'We have to do something about Rwanda,' when the crisis was first developing, then I think the response would have been different."[3] Voices coming from every corner of America, all with the same message, would have forced Congress and, more importantly, the President, to act. It's a tragedy that there were not 100 people in each district to speak up for the Rwandans who were being slaughtered in 1994.

We can't let a similar tragedy unfold today. Let's take advantage of the opportunity that we have: let's get 100 people in each of the 435 congressional districts in America to demand that our government stop dragging its feet and take decisive action to stop this genocide:

This week, the time is right to make our voices heard. Tens of thousands of people will march in Washington, on Sunday, April 30th[4], to demand that President Bush take the steps necessary to end the genocide and build a lasting peace. National media will be focused on the horrors of this genocide in a way they haven't been since it began.

The people of Darfur are victims of a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing and murder because they're from the same ethnic group as rebels fighting the Sudanese government. The government has used pre-existing ethnic conflict in Darfur to its advantage, arming and supporting Arab militia (known as Janjaweed) who carry out attacks on rural villages, killing large numbers of civilians, raping and assaulting women and girls, burning and looting homes and communities; they are preventing emergency food, water and medical supplies from reaching refugees. As the situation worsens, the army and the Janjaweed militias are attacking even refugee camps in Darfur and across the border in Chad.

There is agreement that a UN peacekeeping force, with the authority to protect civilians, and the resources necessary to do so, is the best hope to stop the killings.[5] The United States, more than any other country, has the ability to make that peacekeeping force a reality.

But while bush says that he cares about what's happening in Darfur, and even though he and Congress have officially called it genocide, his actions suggest otherwise. – He simply hasn't made Darfur a priority. Why not?

The United States reportedly worries that pressuring the Sudanese government could interrupt easy access to terrorism-related intelligence.[6] The administration would also have to apply real pressure on China and Russia, countries with veto power in the UN Security Council; they rely on the Sudanese for access to cheap oil; and therefore, they don't want to pressure them.[5],[7]

Our government is calculating that it's worth tolerating genocide, and the loss of hundreds of thousands of innocent Black lives, to avoid rocking the boat. But it can't continue to look the other way if we don't let it.

Now is the time to speak up. When we say enough is enough, it changes the political calculus; and it can force our leaders to act. Let's demand that our government take action which sends a powerful message to the international community, the government of Sudan, and, most importantly, to the people of Darfur: we will do everything in our power to end the genocide immediately and to establish long-lasting peace and justice for the region.

Thanks and Peace,
-- James, Van, and rest of the team
April 24th, 2006

1. "Darfur's real death toll" Washington Post, 3/24/2005
2. "Q & A: Crisis in Darfur" Human Rights Watch, 3/10/2006
3. "The Secret Genocide Archive" New York Times, 2/23/2005
4. "Rally to Stop Genocide"
5. "How the UN Can Stop Genocide in Darfur" Africa Action, 1/17/2006
6. "Official Pariah Sudan Valuable to America's War on Terrorism" Los
Angeles Times, 4/29/2005
7. "China, Russia bar Sudan sanctions" BBC News, 4/18/2006

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