Specific Actions to Stop the Onging Genocide
On Tuesday, May 24, 2005 Africa Action hosted a media briefing, in Washington, D.C., along with other national advocacy groups, to demand that President Bush take specific steps to stop the genocide in Darfur. The groups released an Open Letter to the President on Darfur, signed by 80 prominent national organizations and leadership figures, representing millions of Americans. The letter lays out the most important immediate steps that leading advocacy groups and leadership figures from across the U.S. believe the Bush Administration must take to stop the genocide and protect the people in Darfur.
Heads of leading advocacy organizations spoke about the urgency of the situation in Darfur and the necessary U.S. and international response. Salih Booker, Executive Director of Africa Action, said, "The President of the U.S. has recognized that genocide is occurring, but apparently there are more pressing matters requiring his attention. We must ask, what could possibly be more pressing than genocide? Unless there is an immediate international intervention in Darfur, up to a million people may be dead by the end of this year."
The Open Letter to the President on Darfur asserts the need for an urgent international intervention to support the African Union’s mission in Darfur, in order to:
The letter calls on the Bush Administration to
The original signatories of the Open Letter to the President on Darfur are: Africa Action, American Jewish World Service, Coalition for International Justice, Darfur Rehabilitation Project, Foreign Policy in Focus, Genocide Intervention Fund, Physicians for Human Rights, Save Darfur Coalition, TransAfrica Forum and Professor Eric Reeves.
Some of the prominent additional signatories to the letter include Members of Congress, the NAACP, the National Council of Negro Women, the General Secretaries of the All Africa Conference of Churches and the National Council of Churches (USA), as well as interfaith & labor leaders, heads of women’s groups and advocacy organizations and other leadership figures from across the U.S. The letter and full list of signatories are below:
Dear President Bush,
In September 2004, your Administration rightfully recognized that the crisis in Darfur constitutes genocide. Yet the U.S. has failed to respond to this genocide with the urgency that is required. As the death toll in Darfur continues to mount, it is clear that nothing short of international intervention can protect the people of Darfur. We call on you to assert U.S. leadership to ensure such an international intervention takes place as a matter of the greatest urgency.
Up to 400,000 people have lost their lives in Darfur since the government-sponsored genocide began in 2003. More than 2.5 million people have been displaced, their livelihoods and villages destroyed by government forces and their proxy militias, and many thousands of women and girls have been raped by these forces. Recent reports confirm that the government-sponsored violence continues in Darfur, and that the security situation is deteriorating. The humanitarian crisis that forms part of the genocide is escalating, as the government of Sudan continues to obstruct humanitarian operations, creating famine conditions for millions of vulnerable people.
Mr. President, our most important priority must be providing protection to the people of Darfur. The African Union (AU) has shown important leadership, and its mission in Darfur is doing what it can on the ground in the face of growing insecurity. But the AU cannot address this crisis alone, and nor should it have to. Genocide is an international crime, a crime against humanity, and it requires an international response.
Unless there is an urgent international intervention in Darfur, up to a million people may be dead by the end of this year. An international intervention is essential to support the AU’s efforts, and can achieve four critical purposes: (1) stop the killing and provide security for millions of internally displaced people (IDPs); (2) facilitate the urgent delivery of humanitarian assistance; (3) enforce the cease fire and provide a stable environment for meaningful peace talks to proceed; and (4) facilitate the voluntary return of IDPs to their land and the reconstruction of their homes by providing a secure environment.
The U.S. is to date the only government that has rightfully recognized that genocide is taking place in Darfur. We urge you to immediately take the following steps to support an urgent international intervention to stop genocide in Darfur:
First, the U.S. must assert leadership at the United Nations (UN) by circulating a resolution calling for a stronger civilian protection mandate for the African Union mission and for a broader international force under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter.
Second, the U.S. must encourage the UN to quickly approve and assemble a robust international force, under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, to integrate or co-deploy with the African Union and reinforce its efforts. Such a force can be assembled with troop contributions and financial and logistical support from additional countries within and outside the African continent.
Mr. President, genocide is a unique crime and it requires a unique and urgent response. We can still save thousands of lives in Darfur if we act now. We look to you to provide strong leadership to stop the genocide in Darfur by supporting an international intervention force to protect the people of Darfur as a critical first step to bringing peace and stability to this troubled region.
Bill Fletcher, Jr.,
Rep. Sanford D. Bishop (D-GA)
Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI)
Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA)
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
Rep. Donald M. Payne (D-NJ)
Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-NY)
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)
Dorothy I. Height
Bishop Mvume Dandala
Rev. Dr. Robert Edgar,
Rev. Dr. William Lesher
Bishop Charles E. Blake
Rev. Jim Wallis
James E. Winkler, General Secretary
Suliman A. Giddo,
Mayor Roosevelt Dorn
Capt. Brian Steidle
Rabbi Eric Yoffie
David A. Harris
Rev. William G. Sinkford,
Bishop Beverly J. Shamana, President
50 Years is Enough Network
+ Denotes Africa Action Board member
Sister Marilyn Kesler
H. Eric Schockman, Ph.D
Norman L. Epstein
Rabbi David Steinberg
Rabbi H. David Teitelbaum,
Rev. Dr. George F. Regas
Rabbi Saul J. Berman
Rabbi Deborah Bronstein
Rev. Francis Mercer,
Rev. Dr. Peter A. Terpenning,
Rev. Dr. James Vigen
Seddik Abdel Jabbar
Rev. Elenora Giddings Ivory
Dr. Ronald Walters
Marie Lucey, OSF
Gretchen S. Wallace,
Dr. Toyin Falola
M. William Howard, Jr., DD, DHL, LLD, Pastor
Amy Woolam Echeverria
*Affiliation listed for identification purposes only