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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

MAYBE PRESIDENT OBAMA WILL NEVER DO ANYTHING ABOUT DARFUR



Pictures taken at Darfuri refugee Camp Djabal
June 17, 2009


President Obama apparently found it easy to speak articulately about Darfur based on morals before he was President. And now, we see him doing nothing helpful about Darfur.

Maybe, after he turns around the economic crisis. Maybe, after he gets the health care insurance passed. Maybe, after he solves the climate crisis. Maybe, after he closes Guantanamo. Maybe, after Afghanistan, maybe after the Iraq troups come home, maybe after he finds Osama Bin Laden. Maybe, then he'll address the 6 year genocide. Because as it turns out, Darfur is not on his radar screen.

But then, maybe he will not keep his word about Darfur ever.

No sign that he'll do anything here:
www.whitehouse.gov

Barack Obama said this as a candidate:

"The United States has a moral obligation anytime you see humanitarian catastrophes…we have the most stake in creating an order in the world that is stable...in which people have hope and opportunity and when you see a genocide whether it's in Rwanda, or Bosnia or in Darfur - that's a stain on all of us, that's a stain on our souls...I was the first along with Senator Brownback to focus on ratcheting up sanctions and getting an envoy in there who was serious. We worked diligently to get the Darfur Peace and Accountability act passed…I think the level of commitment and the way that I’ve spoken out on this issue indicates not only knowledge, but also passion in bringing an end to this crisis. It’s very encouraging to see activism based not on self-interest, but on moral imperative and it’s especially heartening to see young people engaged in expressing their idealism through this movement …We can't say 'never again' and then allow it to happen again. And as President of the United States I don't intend to abandon people or turn a blind eye to slaughter.”
See it here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEd583-fA8M
November 2007

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iACT 8 Day 2: Camp Djabal
The Stop Genocid Now field team arrives in Camp Djabal for the 4th time.
Uploaded by stopgenocidenow

Read the journal entries of Gabriel, Katie-Jay and Eric
www.stopgenocidenow.org/category/iact/iact8/day2

photos


Action Day 2: Courage to Spread the Word
Posted by Katie-Jay on June 16th, 2009

Poster (issued by the Jewish War Veterans of the United States) calling for a boycott of German goods. New York, United States, between 1937 and 1939.During the Holocaust, there was a couple living in Germay who learned to the truth of what the Nazi regime was doing. For as long as they could, they left flyers in public places telling this truth. They didn’t know if it made a difference, but it was all they felt they could do. They risked their lives to stand up against the Nazis. They were courageous. Their flyers made history because they did reach people. Take a risk, step outside your own comfort zone.

Print 10 of these flyers, cut them in quarters, and leave them in your community. It might be a risk, but it is something we can all do. You never know who will pick one up.

Iact-8 flyer thumbnail


At home at Djabal - ?
Posted by Gabriel on June 16th, 2009

KTJ, Gabriel, Ian We arrived at camp Djabal at about 2:30pm, which is pretty late to be starting work at a refugee camp. Djabal is a very convenient camp, though, because it is only about a 10 minute drive away from town. The camp looked empty, since people get away from the heat and out of sight during those impossible middle hours of the day. Once we got down from the car at the edge of the camp, children still ventured out to meet us, and pretty soon we had a large crowd of boys and girls ready to be entertained by the weird visitors with all kinds of gadgets.

back from collecting wood It’s hard for me to explain the feeling I get at visiting camp Djabal. It feels very familiar, and the friends we’ve made come running to us and give us hugs and smiles and say our names many times in a clear gesture of connection and community. It is my third visit to Djabal. I will be back more times, and we will stay connected, even when not here. Our friends in Djabal know that.

It feels like home, I would say, but it is not really even their home. We are in an interesting position, coming in as i-ACT, an independent group of more or less citizen reporters. We want to help the voice and the face of the refugees get out there. They have a voice. They know what they want to say! Only they feel that nobody has been listening for years.

Field Team at UNHCR Goz Beida When we, the i-ACT team, talk about conditions in the camp, it is in no way meant as a negative criticism of people doing the heroic–and I mean this, heroic–work of providing services in these impossible conditions. Are refugees always 100 percent accurate in their sharing of information? No. Nobody is. We do spend extended time with the people in the camps we visit. We do not parachute in and then run out with the stories, developing them later at a safe distance. We are there with them, sitting by their tent, seeing what they talk about, and coming back the next day. We do not get close to walking in their shoes. We try to get close to walking next to them.

girl in floral dress It is a complex situation. What we all agree on, I am sure, is that no population deserves to be brutally displaced from their homes, to have family and friends killed, to see sisters and mothers raped, and to have no say in what and where home is.

Besides all the mixed feelings that come with coming in to this complex situation, I feel privileged at being able to act. Our little team, and you probably really have no idea how little we are and what my team mates go through to be a part of it, gets to put a face on the numbers. We need you. We need the people out there that will be open to listening and then will be ready to act. Let’s simplify. It is fellow human beings that are in need.

Paz, Gabriel Stauring

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Dried Veins
Posted by Katie-Jay on June 16th, 2009

luggage at GZ air strip As we fly from Abeche to Goz Beida, I begin to feel at ease; we are on our way and soon will be among old friends. This journey is now familiar.

Out my window in the plane, trees grow near dry tributaries that stretch across the sand like the veins of a drying country. Small circular compounds number that number no more than 15 make up villages sprinkled across the harsh desert, each next to its lifeline, the dry river bed known here as a wadi. Red sand stone and dry green shrubs contrast the neutral sand that covers most the land. As we head South, there is more vegetation and less dry open pits of the Sahara.

Welcome to Camp Djabal Once landed we quickly stop at UNHCR, many of the same faces as only a few months ago greet me with the traditional three kisses to the cheeks. A quick but causal stop with camp police that leaves us free to move back and forth for the week.

We are pressed for time to test equipment for World Refugee Day so we drive to the outskirts of the camp. Kids surround us quickly and Eric begins set up of the technical equipment. Ian, Carlos and I begin to walk the camp and of course, we are taken in by laughing, name repeating, scurrying bare feet of children and the sounds of a refugee camp.

Grain mill beating in the distance. Laughter and shrieks. “Salaam Malakam.” “Malakam Salaam.” “Humdallah.” “Akram, Akram,” as the kids point to themselves, asking for the next picture to be of them.

bilal with friends in back Singing draws us towards the teen center. Before I even enter, a familiar face and an outreached hand, Suliemen, our dear teacher friend from New Sudan school. Selma and Zam Zam are in the choir. I give Selma a big hug. I missed her on our last trip because I was sick. Another big hug, I tell her my mother loves and that I promise to find her again. Ali, Zaineb, Amouna, they all begin to gather. And as a family of old friends, we walk back towards the water tower to find Gabriel. We laugh and giggle, speak broken English and hold hands. Amouna teases me as she always has.

Once back home at our Intersos compound, I begin to feel sad. Many of the children we played with today do not know Darfur. They are too young. They only know the life of a refugee in a camp. They have not felt their culture alive in their homeland. They have not danced on their soil, nor been feed from their mother land. Their veins and blood are Sudanese, but much longer in camps like these, their entire traditional world will be like the tributaries spreading from the wadi, dried veins of a country.


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iACT 8 Day 1 : Abeche
Uploaded by stopgenocidenow

Read the journal entries of Gabriel, Katie-Jay and Eric
www.stopgenocidenow.org/iact/iact8/day1

Day 1 pictures
www.flickr.com/photos/stopgenocidenow/sets

See all photos taken on this trip - iACT 8
photos/stopgenocidenow/collections

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Sudan forces still attacking Darfur civilians -UN

www.reuters.com/article/africaCrisis

* Khartoum forces still attacking Darfur civilians

* UN rights investigator also concerned at killings in south

* Mandate of Sima Samar on line at Human Rights Council

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA, June 16 (Reuters) - The U.N. human rights investigator for Sudan said on Tuesday that Khartoum's forces continue to carry out land and air attacks on civilians in Darfur, and arrest and torture activists and aid workers there.

Sima Samar, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the Sudan, also voiced concern at "large scale killings" in the south, where several hundred civilians died in inter-tribal clashes in March and April amid growing violence in the region.

But diplomats said Sudan was trying at the United Nations Human Rights Council this week to win backing from African and Islamic states to block Western attempts to extend her mandate to report on violations in Sudan for a further year.

"I continue to receive reports of arbitrary arrests, detention, as well as allegations of ill-treatment and torture of human rights defenders and humanitarian workers by security forces," the former Afghan deputy prime minister told the 47-member forum.

Her latest report, covering from last August to her visit to Sudan earlier this month, was also issued on Tuesday. "Land and air attacks by government forces on civilians in Darfur took place during the reporting period," it said.

Air attacks in Darfur are banned under U.N. Security Council resolutions and failed ceasefires, but Khartoum has in the past reserved the right to attack the Justice and Equality Movement and other rebels who did not sign a 2006 Darfur peace deal.

The United Nations says six years of conflict have killed up to 300,000 people and uprooted more than 2.7 million in Darfur. Khartoum says 10,000 people have died.

The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on Darfur war crimes charges.

All sides in Darfur have committed alleged killings, torture, and sexual violence against women and children, Samar said. Three peacekeepers have been killed during the period.

AERIAL BOMBARDMENTS

Fighting in South Darfur in January between the army and rebel forces was marked by "ground offensives and indiscriminate aerial bombardments by government forces in some instances, which failed to distinguish civilian communities, properties and objects from military targets", according to her report.

But Abdel Daiem Zumrawi, under-secretary at Sudan's justice ministry, dismissed her speech and 22-page report, charging that they "failed to give a true picture of human rights in Sudan".

Her mandate, established in 1993, was based on "legacy", and magnified weaknesses rather than progress, he told the council.

Samar's mandate is set to expire when the council's three-week session ends on Thursday.

The European Union is trying to salvage the mandate, one of eight remaining U.N. rights investigators assigned a specific country. In recent years the council has dropped its investigators on the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cuba, Belarus and Liberia.

"They have to acknowledge their problems. The denials of the problem is not going to help," Samar said of Sudan's government.

Asked why her mandate should be retained, she said, "It's a bridge between the international community and that country, first of all. Secondly, I think it is a voice for the voiceless people who are living under difficult circumstances." (Editing by Louise Ireland)

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Sudan expects removal from US sponsors of terrorism

www.sudantribune.com

June 15, 2009 (KHARTOUM) — The Sudanese foreign minister Deng Alor today told the parliament that he expects easing of US economic sanctions and removal from the list of states that sponsor terrorism.

Alor was providing legislators with the state of Sudan’s foreign relations and performance of his ministry.

The top Sudanese diplomat came under fire from the parliament speaker earlier this month for failing to show up for the briefing he made today.

At the time Alor said his appointments prevented him from delivering his remarks back then.

On the relations with Washington the foreign minister said that bilateral dialogue is continuing and will soon lead to steps of normalization including lifting sanctions and delisting from the state sponsors of terrorism.

Alor said that the Netherlands convinced the US that sanctions policy do more harm than good in countries witnessing civil war particularly when the conflict is over resources and wealth.

He also revealed that a number of European countries including Germany and Sweden agreed to partially resume economic development aid to Sudan.

Hungary and Slovakia decided to forgive Sudan’s debt, he added.

The foreign minister hailed the cooperation between Sudan and the African Union (AU) as well as the United Nations (UN) on the deployment of Darfur peacekeepers and humanitarian work.

He also valued the role played by the AU panel headed by former South African president Thabo Mbeki looking into ways to resolve the Darfur crisis while ensuring accountability.

Alor said that efforts by his ministry and support received from Arab, African and Islamic countries against the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued for president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir last March.

He said this resulted in the failure by the ICC prosecutor this month to convince the UN Security Council (UNSC) to take action against Sudan for not cooperating with the court.

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Are Darfuris sold out in a Deal between NCP and the U.S. Special Envoy?

That is the general feeling among Darfuris in the IDP camps, in the Diaspora, among activists.
This is why:
1- Atrocities still going on in Darfur against the people of Darfur, specially the most vulnereable.

a) rape of two women yesterday outside a camp in Zalengie (West Darfur). The women were out to get firewood ( sounds familair?).

b) Pro-GoS death squads continue to carry out assasination operation against Darfuri activists and civil society leaders in Daerfur to suppress any activity calling for the rights of Darfur people. Latest victim was Shoumo Adam, the Activist in Zalengie ( West Darfur) who was assasinated inside his home two days ago. Such activities are on the rise and many Darfuris think that the GoS ( Government of Sudan) is getting no condemnation or rebuke from Washington.

2-The Leaders of the main Movements ( JEM & SLM/Abdulwahid) expressed their dismay that General Scott Geration when met with them in Paris and Chad started to exert pressure on the rebel leaders echoing demands of the Government of Sudan, Arab League, AU.

3- IDP refugees in the Camp and Darfuris in Diaspora are complainig that General Gration invests his time in meetings more with parties who are not Darfuris. Many Darfuris see the Special Envoy on the way to make the same mistake as was made by Robert B. Zoellick ( Abuja peace agreement) by ignoring the input of the people who are the victims of the Genocide in Darfur.

4- It is clear that the GoS is very pleased with General Gration's handling of the humanitarian crisis in Darfur ( which is the making of the GoS in the first place). Please read the issue of June 15 at: While We Wait

5- The media in Khartoum and the net expresses clearly that the GoS has succeeded in diverting the issue of Darfur into bilateral relationship and the common intersts of the two countries on the expence of the Genocide in Darfur.

6- The conference in Washington tobe held these days has failed to outreach to Darfris in Darfur, in the Diaspora. There may be some Darfuris participating in the conference. But many Darfuris don/t consider them to represent the people who are suffering in Darfur.

7- The current handling of the crisis in Darfur by the Administration is a single tracked approach. i.e. focusing in the long term solution while ignoring to address the critical humanitarian and security situation on the ground in Darfur. In few days (June 20th) it will be 5 months ( 150 days) since President Obama took office, and still we hear about this (Sudan Policy Review). As a reminder: The Genocide in Rwanda took only 100 days with a loss of more than 800 thousands lives. No wonder that this policy is celebrated by those who have committed the Genocide in Darfur: The Government of Sudan.

From Mohamed Suleiman, a Darfuri who is still loosing relatives in Darfur (aunts, nephews, nieces and uncles).

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From www.enoughproject.org

This week, we will commemorate World Refugee Day and highlight its theme "Real People, Real Needs". As we turn our attention to the plight of millions of refugees, I urge you to especially think about the 250,000 Darfuris living in over a dozen refugee camps in eastern Chad. Children make up more than 60 percent of the population in the camps and are facing major challenges in securing something every child deserves - an education.

Enough and partner the Darfur Dream Team recently launched the Sister Schools Program, an initiative to link American middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities with schools in Darfuri refugee camps. The program's goals are twofold: first, to improve the education of Darfuri students living in camps, through the construction and rehabilitation of school buildings, teacher training and provision of sports equipment and other school supplies; second, to foster cross-cultural relationships and mutual understanding between American and Darfuri refugee students through letter exchanges and video blogging.

In March, i-ACT, a member of the Darfur Dream Team, visited the Darfuri refugee camps, where they interviewed students and teachers living in challenging conditions. One such student is a 12 year-old boy named Ali. Driven out of his home by militias, Ali and his family packed everything they owned on to the back of one donkey and walked for two weeks until they reached Djabal refugee camp in eastern Chad. Ali, now in the fifth grade, has lived in Djabal camp for the past four years. Displaying unique resilience in the face of extreme conditions, Ali dreams of one day becoming a doctor. However, a shortage of qualified teachers, poorly built school buildings, and lack of supplies makes it difficult for Ali and his peers to realize their dreams.

Here is a video profile of Ali's life in Djabal Camp:



Although the on-going conflict in Darfur prevents Ali and his family from returning home, we can improve the conditions and circumstances they face through the Darfur Dream Team's Sister Schools Program. A simple donation of $82 will provide a Darfuri refugee student with textbooks, school supplies, teacher kits, and sports equipment. I strongly urge you to take immediate action today by visiting our online registry. Additionally, you can have your school or alma mater join the Sister Schools Program at www.darfurdreamteam.org.

Sincerely,


Stella Kenyi

Sister Schools Coordinator
sisterschools@enoughproject.org


Write to President Obama
http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

What I wrote to President Obama today at the above link:

What is your policy as President on genocide and Darfur?

I am very disappointed that you have taken no leadership regarding Darfur. You promised you would act when you were a candidate.

All of us who have been volunteering our time and work toward ending the active and passive genocide by starvation, dehydration, disease and rape of the Darfuris for five years are very disheartened by President Obama's silence on this issue.
And the Darfuris at the refugee Camp Djabal renamed their school for the children the Obama School. They believed a President Obama would act on their behalf in some beneficial ways. They feel let down now.

The iACT Stop Genocide Now team is in a Darfuri refugee camp right now, June 15 - 24, 2009, reporting daily on Youtube and their website. And the teacher at the Obama School at Djabal's refugee camp told them yesterday that maybe President Obama made previous promises about Darfur because "he was candidate".

"The United States has a moral obligation anytime you see humanitarian catastrophes…we have the most stake in creating an order in the world that is stable...in which people have hope and opportunity and when you see a genocide whether it's in Rwanda, or Bosnia or in Darfur - that's a stain on all of us, that's a stain on our souls...I was the first along with Senator Brownback to focus on ratcheting up sanctions and getting an envoy in there who was serious. We worked diligently to get the Darfur Peace and Accountability act passed…I think the level of commitment and the way that I’ve spoken out on this issue indicates not only knowledge, but also passion in bringing an end to this crisis. It’s very encouraging to see activism based not on self-interest, but on moral imperative and it’s especially heartening to see young people engaged in expressing their idealism through this movement …We can't say 'never again' and then allow it to happen again. And as President of the United States I don't intend to abandon people or turn a blind eye to slaughter.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEd583-fA8M November 2007

President Obama apparently found it easy to speak articulately about Darfur based on morals before he was President. And now, we see him doing nothing helpful about Darfur. We are disappointed with Scott Gration, the special envoy to Sudan.

This is a deeply defining issue.

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter." Martin Luther King

On World Refugee Day - Saturday June 20, 2009, the iACT Stop Genocide Now team will be live web streaming
from Camp Djabal.

Thank you for your attention.

Most sincerely,

Sandra Hammel
Genocide Will Stop Only If We Have the Political Will

Where there is a will there is always a way
and where there is no will there is no way.

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You can also write to the President at:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

President Obama can be called:

202-456-1111
or
1-800-GENOCIDE

The White House comment line is available
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. weekdays

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Find USA elected politicians contact information at this link:
www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml

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