Monday, May 01, 2006

Divisions Cast Aside in Cry for Darfur

Divisions Cast Aside in Cry for Darfur: "Clutching signs that read 'Never Again,' thousands of protesters from across religious and political divides descended on the Mall yesterday along with celebrities and politicians to urge President Bush to take stronger measures to end the violence in Sudan's Darfur region that the United States has labeled genocide."

They came out as one, they said, to demand that the Bush administration place additional sanctions on Sudan and push harder for a multinational peacekeeping force to be sent to Darfur.

Among the speakers were Rabbi David Saperstein; Al Sharpton; Joe Madison, a liberal black radio talk-show host who has been pushing the issue; Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention; rap and fashion mogul Russell Simmons; and former basketball star Manute Bol, who is himself Sudanese.

"This is one world, and we are all one family," said Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of the Washington Archdiocese. "What happens to the people of Darfur happens to us."

Speaking later before the crowd, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said: "Paralysis in the face of genocide is wrong. . . . If we care, the world will care."

"The world policy on Sudan is failing," said actor George Clooney, who recently visited the Chad-Sudan border, where hundreds of thousands of Darfuris live in refugee camps. "If we turn our heads and look away and hope it will all go away, then they will, and an entire generation will disappear."
His father, Nick Clooney, a veteran journalist, said: "We didn't stop the Holocaust. We didn't stop Cambodia. We didn't stop Rwanda. But this one, we can stop."

As the rally's first speaker, Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel drew a direct comparison to his own suffering in Nazi concentration camps.
"As a Jew, I'm here because when we needed people to help us, nobody came," Wiesel, the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize winner, told the applauding crowd. "Therefore, we're here."

Paul Rusesabagina, a Rwandan hotel manager who is credited with saving 1,200 Rwandans from slaughter, spoke later.
"Twelve years ago, a militia was slaughtering innocent civilians in cities and towns in Rwanda," said Rusesabagina, whose story was depicted in the movie "Hotel Rwanda."
"As Rwanda has been abandoned, Darfur is also abandoned," he said. "The world is still standing by when a genocide was taking place."

Several speakers urged universities and governments to divest their assets from Sudan.

Younis Tagelalla, 40, was among a small contingent of immigrants from Darfur. He looked around in awe at the sea of black, white and brown faces showing their support for his homeland.
When he lived in Sudan, he said, he was told that Jews were the enemies of Muslims.
Yesterday, he knew different.
"This is not about religion. This is about saving humanity," said Tagelalla, a cabdriver, who got on a bus from New York that was funded by a Jewish group.

"The whole world is behind us. We are so grateful."

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