WASHINGTON, DC – The voice of Armenian Americans – and the lessons of the Armenian Genocide – were heard recently at a series of White House rallies organized by Africa Action against the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian was joined in offering remarks at the April 6th Lafayette Park rally by noted actor and activist Danny Glover; Congressman Donald Payne (D-NJ), the author of the Darfur Genocide Accountability Act; Salih Booker, the Executive Director of Africa Action; John Prendergast of the International Crisis Group; Yves Twagirayezu, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide in 1994, and; Fatima Haroun, a Darfuri woman working with the Sudan Peace Advocates Network.
In his remarks, Hamparian noted that “The Armenian people, victims of the first genocide of the 20th century, are working – with the American government and with our allies in Africa Action – to bring an end to the first genocide of the 21st century.” He called on those present to apply the lessons of the past – including the indifference of the world to the Rwanda Genocide and the dangerous precedent set by Turkey’s ongoing denial of the Armenian Genocide – to work for a U.S. foreign policy that actively prevents genocide and punishes its perpetrators. “We must all organize – here in Washington, DC and at the grassroots level around the nation – to educate our elected officials that there can be no more vital U.S. interest or important American value than preventing genocide.”
The rally, which was organized by Africa Action and attended by several hundred activists, was held on the eve of the anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide, in which 800,000 people were massacred in less than 100 days. Each of the speakers called for decisive U.S. and multilateral action to end the genocide. Among those participating in the rally were members of the Darfurian community in Washington D.C., students, members of religious communities, and human rights activists.
Marie Clarke Brill, Director of Public Education & Mobilization at Africa Action, said, “The White House has called the atrocities in Darfur genocide and failed to take the action necessary to stop the violence. Instead, the U.S. stands back with eyes wide shut and answers the suffering with silence. That is unacceptable! We demand that President Bush break his silence and do everything necessary to move the UN Security Council to form a multinational intervention force to protect the people of Darfur.”
Salih Booker, Executive Director of Africa Action added, “In a mere 100 days in 1994, 800,000 people were butchered in Rwanda and the U.S. government did nothing. As we commemorate that sad event 11 years later, the same atrocities are taking place in Sudan, and the President’s apathy again reveals a flagrant disregard for African lives. This time we will not allow the White House to twiddle its thumbs in the face of genocide.” Booker added, “Would the U.S. government act in the same way if this were happening to white people? Why should African lives be any less valuable?”
Hamparian also spoke at a similar rally on April 13th.
Up to 400,000 people have died in Darfur over the past two years, and recent reports confirm that the security situation on the ground is deteriorating, and the humanitarian crisis is reaching desperate proportions. The ANCA supports Africa Action’s call on the Bush Administration to do everything necessary to secure a U.N. Security Council Resolution authorizing a multinational intervention force to strengthen the efforts of the African Union force on the ground and to stop the genocide in Darfur. Other steps taken by the ANCA to call greater attention to the situation in Darfur include:
* Legislatively, the ANCA has worked with Senators Jon Corzine (D-NJ) and Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ) to support the Darfur Genocide Accountability Act (H.R. 1424 and S.495). Currently there are 58 Congressional cosponsors on the House resolution and 34 cosponsors of the Senate resolution.
* The ANCA has featured the Darfur Genocide Accountability Act as the first item on its website, prompting many thousands of Armenians to send ANCA WebFaxes to their members of Congress in support of its passage.
* Last summer the ANCA marched outside the Sudanese Embassy along with Reps. Rangel, Rush, and others.
* This winter, ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian offered a presentation on human rights advocacy Africa Action’s annual “Baraza” conference on grassroots activism.
* Over the past year, the ANCA has faxed and emailed dozens of letters to every Congressional office calling for decisive U.S. action in Darfur.
* The ANCA’s support for the genocide-prevention efforts of the multi-platinum band – System of a Down – has been on the theme of “Ending the Cycle of Genocide.” The band’s sold-out concert this April 24th will feature an educational table on Darfur.
* Several years ago, recognizing the importance of Samantha Power’s book, “A Problem from Hell” American in the Age of Genocide, in raising awareness about preventing genocide, the ANCA launched a nation-wide campaign to encourage Armenian Americans to purchase this book, and provided copies to every Member of Congress, dozens of Washington, DC think tanks and academic institutions, and over a hundred State Department, Pentagon, and White House officials.
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To send a free ANCA WebFax protesting the Darfur Genocide, Click Here!