WASHINGTON, DC – Armenian Americans joined today with a thousand activists brought together by Africa Action and a broad-based coalition of religious, ethnic, and human rights groups at a White House rally calling for decisive U.S. action to end the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA.).
The demonstration marked a year of inaction by the Administration following the President’s declaration that a genocide is taking place in Darfur. The aim of the gathering was to kick off a period of renewed activism by people of conscience across the country to encourage the President to take every step necessary to ensure an urgent multinational intervention to provide security to the people of Darfur. To date, over 400,000 people have been killed; hundreds are dying every day and hundreds of thousands more are at risk in the coming weeks and months unless urgent action is taken.
ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian, in his remarks at the close of the program, stressed that:
If we have learned anything in the year since the President declared that genocide is taking place in Darfur . . . If we have learned anything from a century of genocide – in Armenia, during the Holocaust, in Cambodia, Rwanda and today in Darfur – it is that having the facts on your side is not enough. We have seen 400,000 deaths, 2.5 million displaced. But the facts are not enough.
Having morality on your side is not enough, for what could be a greater moral imperative than our nation working to prevent genocide?
The fact is that it will take advocacy, it will take organization – sustained organization – if we are to live in a nation that does not measure our interests in dollars, barrels of oil, or military bases, but rather in lives saved, suffering alleviated, and humanity served.
Several speakers, notably Rev. Dr. Robert W. Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, Ruth Messinger, President of American Jewish World Service, and Salih Booker, the Executive Director of Africa Action noted the Armenian Genocide in their remarks.
Among the media assigning reporters and film crews to cover the event were CNN, Agence France-Presse, Associated Press, NBC news, MTVu, Nippon TV (Japan), Inter Press Service, ARD TV (Germany), Voice of America, Radio France International and Yahoo News.
Salih Booker, Executive Director of Africa Action, said today, “As Americans struggle to cope with the President’s failure of leadership on the domestic front in the horrific aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we must also condemn the President’s failure of political leadership on the international front, where he has failed to act to stop the ongoing genocide in Darfur, and the death toll continues to mount.”
Speakers and activists at today’s event emphasized the urgent need for protection for the people of Darfur, and called on President Bush to take every step necessary to ensure an immediate multinational intervention to support the African Union and provide security to Darfur.
Ruth Messinger, President of American Jewish World Service, said, “As Jews who understand the consequences of silence and indifference in the face of genocide, we must respond to the crisis in Darfur and increase pressure on the international community to end the violence and suffering. No-one can stand silently by.”
Rev. Dr. Robert W. Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, said, “It is unacceptable for us to sit idly by as people die. This is true whether it is in the Deep South or Darfur, Sudan. This genocide is one of the greatest horrors of our day. We urge people of conscience everywhere to call on our leaders to take action now before events force us to one day have to confess our sin of negligence and complicity.”
Today’s event also saw the release of a petition signed by over 100,000 Americans, calling on the President to act urgently to provide protection to the people of Darfur. Across the country, citizen engagement on the crisis in Darfur continues to grow, as Americans raise their voices to emphasize that genocide cannot be ignored.
Rev. Jim Wallis, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sojourners Magazine, said today, “People of faith are united in their call for bold and immediate Presidential leadership in order to restore hope and security to the people of Darfur. Now is the time to put real meaning behind the words ‘never again’.”
Fatima Haroun of the Sudan Peace Advocates Network said today, “The people of Darfur have suffered more than enough already. It is time for international action to stop the violence and bring relief and peace to this troubled region.”
David Rubenstein, Coordinator of the Save Darfur Coalition, said today, “The Save Darfur Coalition’s 134 member organizations represent more than 130 million Americans. We call on President Bush – one year after he recognized the genocide in Darfur – to take decisive and effective action to end the violence that is brutalizing innocent civilians in Darfur.”
Among the groups working with the ANCA in this Africa Action-led initiative were: American Jewish World Service, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Faithful America, Greater Washington Jewish Task Force on Darfur, NAACP, National Council of Churches, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Save Darfur Coalition, Sojourners, STAND, Sudan Peace Advocates Network, TransAfrica Forum, and the United Methodist Church.
Following the rally, organization leaders gathered at the ANCA headquarters for a reception. That same evening, the Lutheran Church of the Reformation hosted a candle-light vigil marking the one-year anniversary of the Bush Administration’s statement on Darfur.
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