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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

WALK TO END GENOCIDE FOR SUDAN APRIL 11, 2010 IN NEWPORT RHODE ISLAND



















The Newport Daily News
April 12, 2010
page 4A

To enlarge click on the photos

When three of us showed up, and few came after us, we discussed why people may not show up like they did when I fist did a walk in 2007. I have done four major events now and only one of them received people from three states and that I didn't know were coming.

Reasons could be:
1) the economy
2) the news has decreasesed even more about Darfur, so it gets ignored
3) people are stressed out in their lives
4) people don't care or don't know

The last thing about people not knowing is still so very true. My brother asked me recently when Haiti had the earthquake, if Darfur and Haiti were the same place and didn't they have the same problem.

People still don't know what genocide is. I prefer using other words to describe what it is, such as targeting a group of people to get rid of, whether by direct killing or by more indirect means, such as withholding care, food and water. And also rape as a tool of exterminating a whole ethnic group or race.

I made this video of our Walk to End Genocide for Sudan
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The Walk to End Genocide for Sudan was in Newport, Rhode Island

April 11, 2010
Uploaded by ilovemylifesblog
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Uploaded at Facebook, too
Best to watch in High Quality - HQ


Here is my speech

The first part given at the start of the walk and the second part given at the end of the walk.

Touro Park little speech – 3 minutes


Welcome on behalf of the Darfuri people and all the Sudanese marginalized people. They appreciate your moral support more than you know. I know for me, knowing this personally, has moved me to stay inspired to keep doing this volunteer work toward treating human beings with dignity, especially around the reoccurring theme of genocide on this planet.


We come together in solidarity for justice for people most of us have never met, but feel the need to make our desire for freedom for all - known. Today is the first of 3 days in Sudan for national elections. These elections are a sham and make a mockery of the CPA - the peace agreement that brought us to this day. At the end of our walk we will have a speech, where more will be explained about the election, music and actions that each one of us can continue to take. Making an effort to drag our leaders toward doing something right about something that is very wrong. (Comprehensive Peace Agreement)


Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your presence here today. If you want to talk to me in the future, provide your email and phone number on the petition. And if anyone wants to see the pictures and video from today, please provide me with your email address. When I post it online, I will send you a link. And do check out our new grassroots website: i on sudan


Let’s Walk to End Genocide for Sudan on this day of elections in Sudan


Speech

Walk to End Genocide for Sudan - April 11, 2010

April – Genocide Prevention Month

Newport

10:29

25 minutes


"If we care, the world will care.
If we bear witness, the world will know.

If we act, the world will follow."

Words spoken at the first Darfur national rally,
held on the mall in Washington, D.C.

by Barack Obama
April 30, 2006


Moments of silence for those who have died and live with injuries from the hands of the government of Sudan.


Babylon - A Song of Exile ~ composed by Marguerite Heenehan


I would like to thank Miki Green and Sally Hanchett, who have always been willing to help.

And also my thanks to Marguerite Heenehan who accepted the invitation to sing for us today. Her first song was her own composition: Babylon - A Song of Exile

Later, she will sing Pete Seeger's Golden Thread


In April of 2004, in a private moment I made a decision after watching PBS’ 10 year anniversary airing of Ghosts of Rwanda about the genocide. I decided, then, I would speak out about the immorality of genocide.


November 22, 2005.

I spent the day at the death camp at Dachau, Germany. I spent hours just in one room reading how a genocide comes about. In another room, with two ovens built for the purpose of burning fellow human beings, I stood by German high school students on their field trip.

On the stone structure’s pillars and walls, I read of the unthinkable human experiments done by doctors to the residents of the camp, which were not only Jews, but priests, homosexuals, mentally ill and anyone who disagreed with the dictator, Mr. Hitler. Dachau’s camp was opened March 20, 1933 and the surviving victims were liberated by American forces April 29, 1945. April is Genocide Preveniton Month. The holocaust went on for 12 long years.


I believe that

GENOCIDES GO ON BECAUSE WE THINK IT COSTS US NOTHING,

BUT WE ARE WRONG - it defines us

I wonder how many of us heard about the April 6 anniversary this year of the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Even though it took place in Rwanda, it is an anniversary for the world. All genocides are.

I would like to offer some perspective to the reason we gather today and the place we are standing right now.


Historical Town

This is a historical town. Newport. We have a history here rich in examples of how varied human behavior expresses itself. The good, the bad. Just every day average people.


Slave Trade

Newport, Rhode Island played a leading role during the Colonial Period in the Slave Trade.

By 1776, several thousand African slaves lived and work here.

In Colonial times, slaves comprised nearly one third of our town’s total population

with one in three Newport families owning at least one slave.


Jews

When Jews were forced to convert to Catholicism in Europe

and expelled if they refused,

some eventually came to Newport.

In the spring of 1658, fifteen Spanish Portuguese Jewish families arrived in Newport

who formed the beginnings of what eventually is the congregation of Touro Synagogue.


Native Americans- Genocide Right Here

This land was the homeland of people such as the Wampanoag, Coweset, Nipmuc, Niantic, Pequot and Narragansett. The truth is we stand on land that once had an entirely different social structure than the one that came from immigrants. Land that was stolen from those already here, then treaty after treaty was dishonored by the government side of the treaty. And a very neglected story of discrimination became a systematic attempt to exterminate indigenous peoples. So the subject that we are here to speak out against today for Darfuris, is not a remote story that only has happened in a far off land.


Still Tolerated in Sudan

In this 21st century, Genocide is still tolerated. Since, 2004, the world has little more than spoken words

against the actions of systematic extermination by the government of Sudan for the people of the Darfur region.


It has been disheartening to see President Obama’s Special Envoy to Sudan,

Scott Gration, be so very lame, though he promised “carrots and sticks” to his approach,

we have seen nothing but “carrots”.


This in spite a multitude of violations that warrant “sticks”.

His remark of only having “remnants of genocide” in Darfur is an insult to the Darfuri people. It is difficult to destroy a village a second time. A village that has already been burned to the ground and water wells stuffed with murdered Darfuris to insure the survivors won’t return.


Death by starvation and removing the humanitarian aid agencies that provided clean water and medical assistance is no less an effective means to exterminate the Darfuris.


The government of Sudan began expelling humanitarian aid agencies from Darfur March 4, 2009, immediately following the International Criminal Court charging President A-Bashir with many counts, including “crimes against humanity”.


It is easy for the world to dismiss this story because there is scarce media attention.


But it is still systematic and death by intention to do away with a targeted people. How we moralize it into being acceptable is simple.


Primarily, nations who could do something, ignore it. And if there aren’t enough standing up and saying clearly and persistently “Genocide Will Stop With Us”, then genocide will go on. And so it does.


In my volunteer work with others in the 50 United States – including the Sudan Sham campaign, I have gotten to know three Darfuri of the DiASpora community living in the USA. I exchange thoughts through emails with Mohamed Suleiman, Mohamed Yahya and Bakheit Shata. I asked them what they thought I should say today to you and I received their emails yesterday.


Mohamed Suleiman has a blog where he updates information before official news outlets have it and sometimes never post it. Mohamed has daily contacts inside Sudan.

His blog is While We Wait Sudan


Genocide articles don’t sell much copy. In reality, a certain golf pro (Tiger Woods) defeats Darfur for winning space in a newspaper and on your nightly news stations.


Mohamed Suleiman said


1- Needed first is Justice, then a safe environment without harm, followed with peace for the people of Darfur.


2- The sham elections in Sudan will serve only to legitimize the rule of al-Bashir, the indicted war criminal.

Mohamed’s 2nd point has been underscored by many human rights groups around the world.


3- Obama's Administration should be on the side of the victims, not the perpetrators.

The Obama administration, led by Scott Gration has cozied up to al-Bashir, to the detriment of the Darfuri people.


When you are already feeling broken, vulnerable and forgotten by the world in your need for hope, seeing the President of the USA pick a man that sides with the perpetrators of genocide, would naturally lead you to lose trust that the USA is a reliable resource to the road back to a peaceful village.


4 – Humanitarian Aid restored to pre March 4, 2009 levels

“After the arrest warrant for al-Bashir was announced on March 4, 2009, 13 humanitarian aid agencies’ expulsions began. Still today, humanitarian aid is not at the level before the expulsions.”

Most of the aid agencies that were thrown out last year by President al-Bashir were working quietly to support survivors of sexual violence and to protect thousands of women and girls from rape. One of the principal tools of war in Darfur has been systematic rape, a factor in any argument supporting the existence of genocidal intent. By removing most of the groups that were protecting or caring for rape survivors, a cover up is on.


It would be natural to think that all Sudanese would welcome having its first national election in 24 years after al-Bashir assumed the role for 21 years.

This was supposed to be an exciting time for Sudan, but it is not by Darfuris for sure.


The preoccupation of al-Bashir’s Party (NCP) has been to win the election now taking place.


1) In total Control


2) Manipulated voter registration


3 )Drafted the election laws in its favour


4) Gerrymandered electoral districts


5) co-opted traditional leaders and paid people to vote for them.


This is true all over Sudan, but especially in Darfur, where it has had freedom to carry out its strategy, since that is the only region still under emergency rule.


One indication of the NCP's long-term plans to rig the elections was the management of the 2008 census.


The flawed results were then used to draw electoral districts,

apportion seats in the national and state legislatures and organise the voter registration drive.

Census takers – aided by NCP party – expended great efforts to count those who support the current regime. They also reportedly counted newcomers from Chad and Niger, who had settled in areas originally inhabited by persons displaced in the Darfur conflict, and issued them identity papers so they can vote as Sudanese citizens.

However, most of the estimated 2.6 million internally displaced (IDPs) living in camps, as well as people from The result is an almost certain victory for the NCP and Omar al-Bashir.


And the consequences for Darfur are catastrophic.


Disenfranchising large numbers of people will only further

marginalise them and complicate an already complicated huge problem.


Since the vote will impose illegitimate officials through rigged polls, they will be left with little or no hope of a peaceful change in the status quo, and many can be expected to look to rebel groups to fight and win back their lost rights and lands.


Ideally, elections would be held after a peace deal has been negotiated and the problems with the census, voter registration and demarcation of electoral districts resolved.

The NCP is desperate to legitimize President Omar al-Bashir, especially because he has been indicted by the International Criminal Court.


And there are fears that any delay may risk jeopardising the southern Sudan’s referendum scheduled for January 2011 to vote to become a separate country.


On top of all this

Candidates were blocked from campaigning freely, detained, and threatened.

The major party that represents southern Sudan’s candidate withdrew from the presidential race last week – (Yasser Arman, of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement - SPLM)

and the party announced its will boycott the parliamentary races in Darfur, as well.


Fraud, Unresolved, Unfair, Unfree

They cited alleged fraud, the unresolved crisis in Darfur, and unfair and unfree conditions as reasons for withdrawing.


Many northern party candidates have also voluntarily withdrawn from the presidential race. The Umma party has withdrawn from all races.


At this point the presidential race is virtually uncontested.


Monitors Withdrew

The European Union has withdrawn their election monitors from Darfur citing insecurity and lack of access.


Observers and monitors have been threatened and intimidated by al-Bashir.


Cut fingers off

Al-Bashir responded to a comment re a potential slight delay in elections with the statement: “if they interfere in our affairs, we will cut their fingers off, put them under our shoes, and throw them out."

President Jimmy Carter arrived in Sudan last Thursday to lead the Carter Center’s monitoring mission.

Gration said that Sudan had “given him confidence that the elections … would be as free and as fair as possible,” adding that they “have gone to great lengths to ensure that the people of Sudan will have access to polling places and that the procedures and processes will ensure transparency.”


Sean Brooks of SDC – recent 4 week trip to Sudan

Sean Brooks of SDC said: Gration’s optimism is baffling. After recently visiting Khartoum, the southern part of the country, and Darfur, Brooks stated

“There is no chance that these elections will be even remotely free or fair.

The government has been harassing its opponents for months.”


BBC: stated: “Sudan's elections risk going down in the history books for all the wrong reasons.”


My friend Mohamed Yahya, said,


"Sudan should be ready for war. The government has torn life apart. There is no one to help the Darfuri people

* with 6,000 villages, of which 90% are destroyed

* thousands of women and girls identity destroyed

** I lost 21 relatives in one day.

** There are 1000s of people like me. How do I forget?

They will never change, this is unjustified and deliberate.

It will continue, if al-Bashir is not stopped.


There is a clear divide between what the Sudanese people are saying and what Gration is promoting.”

Last night from a fellow activist, I received an email with these words written by a young Darfuri woman who still lives in Sudan:


"It does feel good though, that there are people like you concerned about what's going on here, I do believe some day he will fall, people here are powerless, even authorities of power, I mean this President is making it impossible for almost everyone. Thanks - it's your words that are a highlight in days full of darkness." Fatimah Ismail


I receive these same kind of comments from the Darfuris living in this country. They are so grateful for any support we give them.


"Our Lives Begin to End The Day We Become Silent About Things That Matter." Martin Luther King, Jr.

Golden Thread sung by Marguerite Heenehan

************************************


I skipped this page by mistake:

I believe we must make decisions based on moral principles.

Unfortunately too many politicians won’t do that, unless we make it clear

that is what must be done.

That is evident because of every genocide that has come and gone.

What human behavior will we condemn – if not genocide?

We step up when there are disasters caused by weather, such as in Haiti,

but where are the multitude of news reports and TV shows,

asking us to support the end of genocide, a disaster of our human race’s making?


Where there is a will there is always a way
and where there is no will there is never a way.

Political will won’t just happen. That is transparently clear.

We could find ways to stop genocide, if we wanted.


Our politicians get away with doing nothing because they believe it will cost them nothing to do nothing.


But we do have some brave ones who have stepped to the plate, but they need also to hear from us.


When I have lobbied US RI Senators and Representatives about Darfur, I have been told that they need to know we are behind them when they do step forward.


Stopping genocide is a choice – and we choose, even if we do nothing.


So, I ask you to do something. This week.


end of the page I skipped


TAKE ACTION


Suggestions:


1 Sign the petition


2 Make calls or email
US officials

President, Secretary of State, Senators Reed, Whitehouse, Reps Kennedy and Langevin

1-800-GENOCIDE


President Obama and VP President Biden

202-456-1111

email: whitehouse.gov

on right hand side is Contact


Encourage them to ensure that the Sudanese elections do not legitimize a genocidal, corrupt government and instead reflect the true will of the Sudanese people.


3 Get involved locally. I am willing to keep up the good fight. But, I need help.

Provide your name, email and or phone number if you will help in some way


Just like our leaders, it helps to have support.


Mohamed Yahya has offered to come and speak to us. So when he does, come and listen.


If you know a school or church group, who would like me to come and speak, ask.


I encourage you to go to our new website: ionsudan.net

reporting news on the ground in Sudan and giving actions you can take that are up-to-date.


4 Donate - If you want to make a tax-deductible donation to the effort:


Checks to “i-ACT”

www.stopgenocidenow.org/support

and mail them to:

i-ACT

1732 Aviation Blvd. #138

Redondo Beach, CA 90278


President Obama’s letter to me said:

Thank you for your letter urging action to end the genocide in Darfur. I share your outrage over the hundreds of thousands of lives lost, and the suffering of millions more. It has gone on for far too long. Bringing relief to the battered region of Darfur is a top priority for my Administration.


So help me hold him to this commitment. So far, his man Gration has not.


I am waiting to see the legacy about genocide and in particular Darfur and Sudan of this administration.


If you want peace, work for justice

إذا كنت تريد السلام ، أعمل من أجل العدالة


Our being silent is used as a tool in the arsenal of Bashir.

But we gather here to say with our presence

Genocide is Not Okay with Us.

Genocide in our time

MUST Be Noticed,

Genocide in our time is

worthy of being reported by our media,

worthy of having the leaders
of free nations use their political will
to end the Darfur genocide

And actually put some meaning to the words

Never Again

Words we love to use

At the languishing end of each genocide that this planet has hosted.


A Moral Nation Needs to Stand Up for Right

Genocide flourishes when there is no accountability.


We have been called to be human in the most basic way on this subject.


I am one person, but I am on a mission. Genocide vs. the human right to live…out … a normal existence - a passion for me.


How long will we allow ourselves, our nations, our will, to be defined by the tolerance, acceptance of genocide? Our leaders have certainly shown that it doesn’t matter, whether Republican or Democrat, the political will needs us to make the difference.


So, let’s be the difference.


Let’s do something that will bring peace to our pillow – knowing we have done our part.


Thank you on behalf of the voiceless Darfuris and all marginalized Sudanese.


We are a symbol of what is right about humans being human.


Let your light shine.



Photos taken by Krista Powell
April 11, 2010
Newport, Rhode Island
Our route:
Touro Park
Pelham Street
Bellevue Aveune
Memorial Boulevard
Americas Cup Avenue
Thames Street
Touro Street
Washington Square
Eisenhower Park

when-humans-humanity-is-indifferent

Soapbox
The media has been missing an opportunity and responsibility to report on this story. It seems the US media would rather obsess on Sarah Palin, The Tea Party and Tiger Woods – the “soup de jour”. There is always some story that the US media obsesses over until they latch onto some other story to go on and on about. All while ignoring real stories that direly need them to report them. It is no longer news, it is entertainment. And it isn’t even good “entertainment” value. They should live that up to artists, actors and writers and report stories of importance.

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1 Comments:

At April 13, 2010 at 1:02:00 PM EDT , Blogger KTJ Scott said...

Great work Sandra! So glad to be working with someone with so much commitment and heart. Without people like you many more Darfuris and Sudanese would have died in recent years. Together, I know we can change the world!

 

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