DARFUR WITHOUT JUSTICE IS DARFUR WITHOUT PEACE
So if you aren't perpetrating the burning of villages, the killing of thousands, raping the females, maming and gouging eyes out, why aren't you charging those who are? Where is the justice, President Omar al-Bashir?
iACT 8, Day 9, June 23, 2009
There is so much joy in seeing our family in the camps, and also so much sadness that comes with knowing their stories. After all the crazy days to prepare for World Refugee Day events, we finally get to sit with our friends and enjoy the simple parts of life, like drawing pictures.
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Day 9 Action: Steps for Peace
This week the Obama Administration has brought together key signatories and over 30 countries in Washington to discuss the fate of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in Sudan. John Norris, Executive Director of ENOUGH Project, noted recently, “One of the key problems with the CPA to date has been the fact that the parties to the CPA, particularly President Bashir’s National Congress Party, have not faced any cost from the international community for a failure to implement key provisions of the agreement. Unless that changes, conflict in Sudan will only intensify.”
We cannot allow this to happen. The US must be a leader in the international community. After meeting the beautiful people of Darfur, we are responsible to act. While these important leaders are in Washington, take action:
1. Call you member of Congress through the Capitol switchboard at 202.225.3121.Urge them to hold hearings on Sudan and continue to make this issue a high priority for Congress.
2. Sign the open letter to President Obama encouraging his administration to address the immediate humanitarian crisis in Darfur and to achieve long term peace through a political solution for all of Sudan.
Read more about the CPA and Sudan by ENOUGH.
I know the name of three. I feel bad that I did not ask the name of the fourth. Marymouda is the last one. The first and second were Issa and Abrahim. The third died on his mother’s back, as she, Adef and remaining siblings escaped from Darfur. They have lost four children in six years. Who’s counting? Someone should be held accountable.
War ~ No More Trouble
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We have a days rest in Abeche before three of our team members move on to Guereda where Camp Kounoungo is located, and one, Eric, begins is several day journey back to Los Angeles. It doesn’t seem like a break. I feel more restless today then any other day since our arrival in Chad. There are any number of tasks that I could be doing, but instead I click through pictures in iPhoto, allowing myself to be transported back to our friends in Camp Djabal.
Abdelmouni, now three years old, is Adef’s serious young man. The giggles and almost consistent smile Bashar, Bashir, and Guisma get from Achta. Adef and Abdelmouni, although they have great laughs too, are more serious and stern. In almost every picture Abdelmouni’s “look” is captured. Only a tickle on the neck or showing him his picture on the camera will get him to giggle. His three older siblings catch the contagious laughter. I wonder what Gbryl (prounounced Ge-briel) will be like. Will he too have a contagious laugh.
I think about the pain that Achta and Adef must feel after losing four of their children. Guisma is the only girl they have left; of nine children that she has birthed. Nine. Their oldest son, Abrahim, would be 18 years old, the next oldest would be 15. Instead, it is Bashar and Bashir at 8 years old. They were only 3 when they fled their homeland. I wonder what they remember, if anything.
Achta has a great scar on her arm. It is raised with two large oval scars meeting like tips of tear drops touching with another straight scar that is perpendicular. I slowly pass my fingers over them and ask her what happened. Our translator has not arrived. Adef simply points at his wife’s arm, makes a gesture like he shooting an AK-47, and says, “Janjaweed.” Today Achta’s arm still hurts as she bears the scars of gun shot wounds and perhaps more painful, the scars of losing four children.
I don’t know how Achta and Adef feel. But when we ask them what they hope for and what they need, it is always the same. They want justice in order for peace. And they want their children to be educated so Darfur and Sudan will be stronger because of the next generation.
Link to pictures of June 23, 2009
You can also write to the President at:
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Find USA elected politicians contact information at this link:
OBAMA'S DARFUR PROMISE
By Susan Morgan
During the campaign, when asked about the genocide in Darfur, Candidate Obama said, "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." The candidate also spoke of "ratcheting up sanctions" and "organizing the European Union to be a part of those sanctions." His campaign's policy paper, titled the "Obama-Biden Plan," stated, "As president, Obama will take immediate steps to end the genocide in Darfur by increasing pressure on the Sudanese and pressure the government to halt the killing and stop impeding the deployment of a robust international force."
Fast forward to June 2009. Thus far, President Obama and his Administration have displayed no "immediate" response to the Darfur crisis or any willingness to "pressure" the Sudanese government. Instead we have seen stalls, delays and a very worrisome conciliatory tone in the U.S. response to the ongoing genocide in Darfur. According to a recent article in the Washington Post, Obama's Special Envoy to Sudan, retired Air Force Maj. Gen. J. Scott Gration, has advocated easing some American sanctions and upgrading U.S. diplomatic relations with Sudan's government to induce cooperation.
Many Darfur activists, whose votes for Obama were influenced by his impassioned statements about the responsibility to act in the face of genocide, feel betrayed. Darfuris, who named babies after Obama and waited hopefully for him to take office, feel understandably abandoned.
Concern amongst grassroots activists (aka voters) as well as amongst the Darfuri refugeesfirst press conference, Gration not only contradicted both the President's and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.'s assessment of the crisis in Darfur as an "ongoing genocide" but also the facts when he stated that the aid levels have returned to nearly 100% of their previous levels before the forced expulsion of 13 foreign aid groups by the Government of Sudan. reached its peak this week due to comments made by Special Envoy Gration. During his
In fact, according to John Holmes, the U.N.'s emergency relief coordinator, the new aid workers "have not yet replaced, and cannot easily or rapidly replace, the capacity and skills lost." Gration's description of the crisis as the "remnants of genocide" was also disproven in the latest report by U.N. human rights investigator, Sima Samar, covering from last August to her visit to Sudan earlier this month. This report accused Sudanese forces of continuing to carry out land and air attacks against civilians in Darfur, in violation of the world body's resolutions during the reported period. She cited reports that Sudan's security forces have arrested and tortured human rights activists and aid workers.
As if to underscore the points made in the report, on the day it was issued, members of the government's National Congress Party (NCP) brutally attacked female students from Darfur who had convened a meeting in the dormitory at the University of Khartoum to discuss crimes of the government against the people of Darfur. Female NCP supporters accompanied by male security agents disguised in female attire attacked the Darfuri female students with iron bars, bats, and knives. Many were seriously injured.
Some grassroots activist leaders together with Darfuri leaders in IDP camps are calling for Gration's replacement. In a letter to President Obama, Martina Knee, a member of the Executive Committee of the San Francisco Bay Area Darfur Coalition writes:
"Since the appointment of General Gration, the Government of Sudan has bombed Darfuri villages and Chad, sentenced over 100 Darfuris to death after unfair trials, censored its media, and arrested and detained human rights activists in unknown locations. His approach to Sudan has emboldened this genocidal regime who he treats as rational actors. He ignores the 20-year history of tyranny, slaughter and broken agreements."
Whether Gration's statements represent a dramatic shift in the Administration's policy or were merely careless or misinformed, they indicate clearly that Obama's attention to the Darfur crisis is missing. It is hard to imagine such a serious misstep taking place in a press conference held by George Mitchell on the Middle East or by Richard Holbrooke on Afghanistan. Instead, when it comes to the Administration's response to the first genocide of the 21st century, the usually well-oiled machine seems to need a mechanical overhaul.
Five months into his presidency, the people of Darfur have waited long enough for Barack Obama to keep the promises of his candidacy. Victims of genocide deserve the immediate and direct involvement of the President himself. Many may argue correctly that the President has other pressing issues before him and cannot possibly engage with them all immediately. However, in his own words "ongoing genocide" carries with it the "moral imperative" to act.
The facts speak for themselves. Government of Sudan (GoS) planes are bombing defenseless Darfuri refugees in camps in Chad and its own citizens in IDP camps in Darfur. More than three months after the GoS expelled 13 foreign aid groups from the country, 1.5 million people are still waiting for adequate food, water, sanitation and medical care to be restored. Efforts to convene a civil society conference on Darfur with the aim of building what its organizers call "a mandate for peace" were derailed by the GoS. The GoS executed nine men on April 1, who may have been innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted. Over 70 more men await a similar fate. Their confessions were reported to have been extracted under torture.
Five months after the inauguration, the U.S. State Department, still hasn't completed its lengthy review or unveiled its long-awaited Sudan policy. And the Special Envoy, a man with no prior experience with Sudan or diplomacy, seems to be marching to his own conciliatory tune.
This disarray in policy could not come at a worse time. The Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court has warned that a decision by the Court is imminent on whether to add a genocide charge against Sudan's president Omer al Bashir to the other already approved charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. According to experts at the Enough Project, "many fear the response from Khartoum, which could result in either a government seeking retribution or a government emboldened. As one source put it: 'I read this as a warning to the international community to get prepared.'"
Yet we are not prepared. President Obama -- it is time for you to step in. You must lead the United States and the international community to ensure peace in Darfur and in all of Sudan. You made a promise to the people of Darfur and to the many American voters who care about them. Please keep it. Otherwise, as you said during the campaign, it will be "a stain on all our souls."
Labels: abuse, Alice Miller, Bashir, Camp, Darfur, Genocide, iACT, ilovemylife, Justice, NO JUSTICE NO PEACE, PRESIDENT OBAMA, Refugee, Sandra Hammel, Stolen Childhood, Sudan, Violent, We Are the World