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Thursday, December 11, 2008

IT'S NOT ENOUGH THAT YOU HAVE FREEDOM

I BELIEVE USING YOUR VOICE TO SPEAK UP FOR JUSTICE IS NECESSARY

JUSTICE DOESN'T JUST HAPPEN

I have been preoccupied with real life recently and haven't posted in several days. I led a lobby meeting regarding Sudan, Darfur and genocide to our United States Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed's office on December 9, this past Tuesday. It is the fifth time since April 2006 that I have lobbied him on Darfur. During the preparation time and follow-up I have squeezed in a couple of movies, yesterday, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and today Changeling.

Over the years, I have also lobbied our other Senator who was Lincoln Chafee and now is Sheldon Whitehouse, as well as our U.S. RI Representative Patrick Kennedy regarding Darfur.

Here is some of the information used for our meeting this week:

OVERVIEW for Darfur and Sudan

On July 22, 2004 the United States Congress took an unprecedented step when it recognized that the ongoing atrocities occurring in Darfur were genocide. However—nearly 4 and a half years later—the genocide continues. So far this year, at least 1,200 people have been killed by direct violence and over 300,000 people have been displaced. 2008 also saw the continuation of the Sudanese government's offensive military overflights in Darfur with 43 attacks. Darfur peace initiatives have failed and the current peacekeeping mission is still largely ineffective.

What’s Needed in Darfur: a Three-Pronged Approach

Peace Surge: An expedited and robust commitment to peace is needed. This will require the
selection of a senior official responsible for this issue. The United States must also reach out to interested parties with leverage in Sudan and the region, especially China, the United Kingdom, France and key African countries, to coordinate efforts.

Commitment to an Effective Peacekeeping Mission:
UNAMID is failing to achieve its central goal of protecting the civilian population in Darfur. A robust force on the ground in Darfur, with a competent lead nation and a clear command and control structure, is essential for saving lives, creating an environment amenable to the peace surge and establishing the international credibility required to ensure that a broader peace strategy succeeds.

Accountability and Justice: Accountability for crimes against humanity in Darfur remains an essential element of a lasting peace in Sudan. A premature deferral of the cases against Sudan’s leadership through invocation of Article 16 of the ICC’s Rome Statute would set back the cause of peace. The U.S. should veto any UNSC resolution invoking Article 16.

Preferred Responses to Questions
for Presidential Nominees on Darfur/Sudan
December 9, 2008
U.S. RI Senator Jack Reed - Policy Director Nancy Langrall

Question 1: Is ending the genocide in Darfur a top-five foreign policy priority for the Obama administration?

• Genocide in Darfur has greatly contributed to instability in the entire region. Instability, particularly on this scale, should be a serious concern as it relates to U.S. security.
• Iraq and Afghanistan are important foreign policy priorities, but Darfur should be too.
• The U.S. does not need to send troops to Darfur, but we need a concerted diplomatic effort to get an international peacekeeping force on the ground, get an inclusive peace process, accountability for perpetrators of genocide and crimes against humanity.

Question 2: Under what circumstances would the Obama administration consider Article 16 for the case of Sudan?

• Support vetoing Article 16.
• If Article 16 is going to be invoked, worries that the following won’t happen:
o Peace deal
o Alternative mechanism for accountability
o Evidence that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement has been implemented

Don’t trade accountability for war crimes for empty promises from Khartoum.

Question 3: What steps will you take to reinvigorate UNAMID?

UNAMID, the hybrid U.N.-African Union mission in Darfur, is failing to achieve its central goal of protecting the civilian population in the region.
• Sudanese government cannot be allowed to dictate the terms of UNAMID. We must not allow Khartoum to decide the mission’s force size, national composition, the extent of AU versus international participation, timeframe for deployment, or civilian protection mandate.
• We need a robust force on the ground in Darfur with a competent lead nation and a clear command-and-control structure is essential for saving lives, creating an environment amenable to the peace surge. This will establish the international credibility required to ensure that a broader peace strategy succeeds.

Question 4: Who will have the Sudan portfolio in an Obama administration? To whom will that person report?

• We need a senior U.S. official within the Administration (as high up as possible) to take responsibility for the “Darfur/Sudan Portfolio”. This person will make this issue progressively improve from the day he or she is assigned to the Sudanese issues.

• The reporting structure should reflect the importance of the issue by ensuring that a lead decision-maker in the Administration is readily made aware of any changes on the ground.

Question 5: In 2008, there were 43 reported aerial attacks in Darfur. What will your administration do to enforce the UN ban on military offensive overflights by the Government of Sudan?

The U.N. Security Council has demanded an end to offensive military flights several times, most recently in Resolution 1769, which authorized UNAMID. UNAMID has not enforced that demand. It is clear that the Obama administration and the U.N. Security Council need to consider how best to counter these continuing aerial flights and provocations and then make the plans work.
• What are the nominee’s thoughts on a no-fly zone? What would a no-fly zone entail? How else might offensive military overflights be stopped?

Question 6: Given its dependence on Sudanese oil, China has an interest in a peaceful Sudan. What steps will you take to work with China to ensure that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement holds and that the crisis in Darfur is ended through a negotiated solution?

• We need to change the conversation with China. In other words, appeal to China’s economic interest in Sudan. Use China’s economic interest, as a starting point to work with China on an initiative for peace in Sudan.

Lobby your U.S. Congressperson -
Setting up and Preparing for a Face to Face Meeting

An in-person visit with a member of Congress or their staff is the single most effective way you can advocate for an end to genocide. You can meet your legislator or their staff in Washington, DC, or in their district office near your home.

How to schedule a meeting
• Find the office phone number for the district or Washington, DC office of your elected official. Go to www.congress.org
• Enter your zip code and then select which official you would like to send a message.
• The "contact" tab will give you the phone numbers of both the district and Washington, DC offices.
• Choose which office you would like to call based upon where you will be meeting (if you are meeting in-district call the district office closest to you).
• Call the office and ask to speak to the scheduler.

Schedule your meeting
• Let the scheduler know that you are a concerned constituent interested in meeting with your representative/senator.
• Be prepared to describe who you are and what you would like to talk to your legislator about.
• If your representative/senator is not available, ask to meet with the legislative assistant who handles international affairs.

What to expect
• It may be difficult to meet with your elected official in person. However, you can always meet with a member of your elected official's staff. Oftentimes meeting with the staff member who handles international affairs is the best person to talk to about your issue.
• Don't go alone. It will be easier to get a meeting and have greater impact if you have a group of people and/or represent a group of people.

What to bring to your meeting
• A printed copy of your legislator’s report card from www.DarfurScores.org
• Basic talking points on the conflict and your specific ask.
• Other members of your community concerned about the issue.
• Information about your efforts, your organization and any related local news coverage.
• A camera to document your visit. Got pictures? Send them to
info@genocideintervention.net

My personal advice: As I have scheduled and organized several lobby meetings, I have found that the scheduler wants the names of constituents who will come one week in advance. Constituents don't always make this easy on you. I had one college student email me at 10:00 p.m the night before our appointment this week and say that four college students would be "showing up" at our lobby appointment. This puts the organzier of the meeting in an uneasy position. You want to present yourselves as well-prepared and follow rules of common courtesy to the Senator's office staff.

I have been asked to email my agenda in advance of the meeting to their offices. But always, I bring copies of the agenda to the meeting and hand it to the staff when arriving. This is much appreciated even if it isn't required by the office.

I have always had a meeting with the constituents one hour in advance near the Congressperson's office to go over the agenda and assign different points to the participants. This makes us look well-organized, answer any questions and allows us to feel more comfortable ourselves.

We want to make our "asks" known, but also the goal is to build a relationship with the Congressperson's staff for future follow-up contacts.

I encourage you to get the office phone numbers in your home state and in Washington, D.C. and email addresses of key people in your Congresspeople's offices. Let them know how you feel about any issue. It is their job to hear you. Tell them why the issue is important to you.

Senator Reed told me in the previous lobby meeting to let him know when I know something about Darfur, a bill about Darfur, etc, because he doesn't always know. It is very important to follow-up with their offices also. They don't do what they say they will do necessarily. "Squeaky wheels" will be the ones that get attention. Patrick Kennedy told me that one.

Also, President-elect Obama has set up a page for you to let him and his staff know what is on your mind. Here is the direct link: http://change.gov/page/s/yourstory

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Trailer - The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Thanks to and uploaded by TheMoviePreviews

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Changeling trailer
True story
Recommended
Angelina Jolie
Clint Eastwood
Thanks to and uploaded by screamingangieZ

I saw
Imagining Argentina recently on cable TV
which is about governments who have silenced voices by murdering the people (happening now). This document includes case studies of enforced disappearances around the world including in Pakistan, Philippines, Iraq, Lebanon, Russia, USA and Chad: www.amnesty.org

Facts and Figures

Trial into the murder of human rights journalist Anna Politkovskaya

www.amnesty.org - Enforced Disappearances

www.amnesty.org - Human Rights by Country


They Dance Alone - During Pinochet's Regime

It is this time of year that Christians like to post
PEACE ON EARTH. That is far from the truth.

I hope you won't be silent or a "sheep" this season.
Justice only survives when we tend to it.

Otherwise injustice grows like weeds.

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All We Like Sheep Have Gone Astray
Maestro Marcelo Ramos
Coro Madrigale
Orquestra Sinfônica de Minas Gerais
December 19 and 20, 2007
Grande Teatro do Palácio das Artes
Thanks to and uploaded by gusarquiteto from Brazil

Human Rights Watch: www.hrw.org


Important News


PEACE IS BREAKING OUT WHERE?

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2 Comments:

At December 12, 2008 at 8:55:00 AM EST , Anonymous Angry African said...

Amen. Those words of MLK is even more true today than back then. We can not be quiet on this.

 
At December 12, 2008 at 10:37:00 PM EST , Blogger ilovemylife said...

Voices are fragile. Easy to silence by intimidation...but nothing more potent than voices speaking truth.

So nice of you to stop by.

 

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