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Genocide requires urgent multinational intervention to protect civilians

Africa Action

Press Release

Contact: Ann-Louise Colgan (202) 546-7961, [email protected]

One Year After Genocide Declaration, Congress Has Balked on Darfur

Threats of sanctions & divestment are insufficient;
Genocide requires urgent multinational intervention to protect civilians

Friday, July 22, 2005 (Washington, DC) – Africa Action today
acknowledged the leadership asserted by Congress one year ago, when it
unanimously declared that genocide was taking place in Darfur, Sudan,
but criticized the legislative branch for its failure to take
sufficiently strong action since that time to provide protection to the
people of Darfur.

Salih Booker, Executive Director of Africa Action, said, “On the
one-year anniversary of this critical Congressional statement on Darfur,
the time for legislation is over, and the time for action is now.
Legislative action on Darfur has failed to build on the strong statement
of bipartisan support shown on this date last year. Congress has focused
on sanctions and divestment, which are insufficient to stop genocide,
and it has let the Administration off the hook for its appalling apathy
on this crisis.”

Africa Action notes that numerous Members of Congress have traveled to
Darfur over the past year, and the most committed among them have
participated in various public actions, as well as public education
through the media. Congressional appropriations have yielded important
humanitarian assistance and financial support for the African Union
observer mission in Darfur. But the organization emphasizes that
Congressional leadership has failed to exert strong pressure on the Bush
Administration to take urgent action at the international level on the
most immediate priority – protecting the people of Darfur.

Ann-Louise Colgan, Director of Policy Analysis & Communications at
Africa Action, said, “Last July, Congress demonstrated moral leadership
in declaring genocide in Darfur, and its unanimous statement generated
political pressure on the White House to recognize this genocide on
September 9, 2004. Since this time, Congressional debates have stalled
over weak pieces of legislation, and critical momentum has been lost.
The genocide has continued, more than 400,000 lives have been lost, and
the U.S. has failed to take action to protect civilians in Darfur.”

Marie Clarke Brill, Director of Public Education & Mobilization at
Africa Action, said, “People from across the U.S. have been outraged by
the failure of their Members of Congress to follow last July’s genocide
declaration with the determined action necessary to help end this crisis
and provide protection to people in Darfur. Recognizing the
unwillingness of Congress to push President Bush, concerned Americans
are taking action in growing numbers to pressure the Administration
directly to support an urgent humanitarian intervention to stop genocide
in Darfur.”

Last July’s Congressional action on Darfur was itself the result of
leadership within the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), which joined
with Africa Action in a petition drive and press briefing in June 2004
to call on then-Secretary of State Powell to acknowledge the genocide in
Darfur. Upon his return from Darfur, Powell met with the CBC to receive
more than 30,000 signatures on this petition, and the State Department
conducted its own study into the crisis in Darfur. The political
pressure generated by Congress and thousands of Americans in that
petition, plus the overwhelming evidence on the ground, left the
Administration with no alternative but to declare genocide was taking
place in Darfur on September 9, 2004 – almost 11 months ago.

One year on, Africa Action is running another petition drive, gathering
400,000 signatures for a message to President Bush, demanding urgent
action to stop the genocide in Darfur. The petition demands the
President take every step necessary to achieve a multinational
humanitarian intervention in Darfur in support of the African Union
troops with a mandate to protect civilians. Africa Action will feature
the petition in a major event outside the White House on September 9,
2005, the one-year anniversary of the Bush Administration’s recognition
of the genocide in Darfur.