Historic Rally in Washington, DC, Delivers Three-Quarters of a Million Postcards Demanding an End to Genocide in Darfur
George Clooney, Darfuri Natives, Olympic Gold Medalist Joey Cheek Among Speakers

Washington, DC – Prominent celebrities, faith leaders, human rights activists, politicians, Darfuri refugees, and other genocide survivors joined tens of thousands of people on the National Mall today to demand immediate action to stop the worsening genocide in Darfur, Sudan. Rally participants brought three-quarters of a million postcards addressed to President Bush, including 200,000 by Africa Action, urging him to use the power of his office to fulfill his February 17 pledge to support a stronger multi-national force to protect the Darfuri people and for Congress to provide the resources to do so.

“We are inspired that the American people and our political leaders have finally found their voices three years after this horrific genocide started,” said Rev. Gloria E. White-Hammond, M.D., chairwoman of the Million Voices for Darfur campaign. “Today we delivered three-quarters of a million postcards to our nation’s capital to demand that our leaders stop the slaughter of thousands of innocent men, women and children in Darfur.”

Anyone can send an electronic version of this postcard in just a few seconds by visitingwww.MillionVoicesForDarfur.org. Since 2003, the Sudanese government and its Janjaweed militia allies have killed an estimated 300,000+ people in Darfur, and have left 3.5 million Darfuris dependent on foreign aid for their survival.

“Every day we fail to stop this genocide is another day of hell for the Darfuri people,” added Rev. White-Hammond, who has made one trip to Darfur and seven trips into war-torn southern Sudan, where she has been involved in obtaining the freedom of 10,000 women and children who were enslaved during the two decades long civil war. “It’s the world’s moral duty to do everything in our power – including citizen action, diplomatic pressure and even military intervention – to save the millions of Darfuri people still at risk. If we fail to act, their blood will be on all of our hands.”

On Friday, representatives of the Save Darfur Coalition met with President Bush hours after five U.S. Representatives and six religious, international development and student leaders were arrested for protesting outside the Sudanese Embassy against the Darfur genocide. The rally highlighted four demands that the Save Darfur Coalition has made of the Sudanese government:

  1. Withdraw any objection to a UN peacekeeping force in Darfur. The purpose of such a force would be to protect your own citizens from harm, and there is already ample precedent, given the current UN peacekeeping force in south Sudan.
  2. Allow humanitarian relief organizations full and unfettered access to the villages and refugee camps for internally displaced people in Darfur. A good first step would be reinstating the Norwegian Refugee Council, which the Sudanese government ejected from Sudan in early April.
  3. Abide by the terms of the N’Djamena ceasefire calling for an end to hostilities in Darfur, and to UN Security Council resolutions by disarming the genocidal Janjaweed militias.
  4. Fully commit to reaching a lasting agreement at the current, seventh round of the Abuja peace talks on Sudan’s Darfur region.

The rally was sponsored by the Save Darfur Coalition (www.SaveDarfur.org), a coalition of 165 faith-based, advocacy, and humanitarian organizations representing over 130 million Americans. The rally entertainment was provided by Big & Rich, recognized as “2005 Country Songwriter of The Year” by performing rights organizations ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) and BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) and the Berkelee College of Music ensemble “Voices of Mercy,” which performed original music written for the women of Darfur.

Rally speakers included: Academy Award-winning actor George Clooney, who just visited the war-torn Darfur region; Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Jendayi Frazer; U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), co-sponsor of the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act that would bring sanctions against Darfur genocide perpetrators; U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who recently led a bipartisan congressional delegation to Darfur; three co-chairs of the Congressional Sudan Caucus: U.S. Reps. Frank Wolf (R-VA), Donald M. Payne (D-NJ), and Michael E. Capuano (D-MA); Governor Jon Corzine (D-NJ), a co-author of the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act when he served in the U.S. Senate; Lt. Gov. Michael Steele (R-MD); a lawyer and human rights activist from Darfur, Salih Mahmoud Osman; a Darfur refugee and founder of Save Women-Sudan, Tragi Mustafa; former slave in southern Sudan, Simon Deng; Nobel Peace Winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel; Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of the Washington, DC Archdiocese; Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Paul Rusesabagina, whose story was depicted by Oscar Award-nominated actor Don Cheadle in “Hotel Rwanda;” Rev. Al Sharpton; Arab American Institute Founder and President Dr. James J. Zogby; former NAACP President and U.S. Rep. Kweise Mfume; Russell Simmons, Founder, Def Jam Recordings/Chairman, Foundation for Ethnic Understanding; Rabbi Marc Schneier, President/Founder, Foundation for Ethnic Understanding; Olympic speed skating Gold and Silver Medalist Joey Cheek, who donated his $40,000 U.S. Olympic Committee bonus to benefit the children in Darfur; former NBA star and Sudan native Manute Bol, who has given most of his estimated $3.5 million fortune to relief efforts in Sudan; Southern Baptist Convention Ethics & Religious Liberties Commission President Dr. Richard Land; and former U.S. representative to the African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur from September 2004 to February 2005, former U.S. Marine Captain Brian Steidle.

The rally concluded a 21,000-mile, 22-city photo exhibit and speaking “Tour for Darfur: Eyewitness to Genocide” hosted by Capt. Steidle.

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