Several dozen activists gathered in front of the State Department Wednesday afternoon to rally for peace and justice in Sudan. Carrying banners, the crowd shouted slogans about ending the genocide in Darfur and bringing peace and justice to Darfur through the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir (wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity).
The rally was organized by the Damanga Coalition and featured representatives from organizations such as the Save Darfur Coalition and the Africa Faith and Justice Network. Activists from Sudan and the United States spoke to the crowd through a megaphone. Jimmy Mulla, President of the Southern Sudanese Voice for Freedom in Virginia, spoke about the damaging and still-raw effects of more than two decades of civil war between Sudan’s North and South. Mulla said that despite the 2005 signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the North-South war, people are still suffering throughout southern Sudan. “We need to speak up until it stops,” he said.
Enough’s Maggie Fick also spoke at the rally. Drawing on her recent experiences southern Sudan, she said that the situation in the region was “very bleak,” but not hopeless. The crises in Sudan are interconnected, she said, and the root causes of these conflicts will not be solved until the dual issues of a revitalized Darfur peace process and implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement are put “on one track.” She said that President Obama’s remarks on Darfur in his speech in Accra last week were promising, but must be followed up with “serious and sustained action.”
Bill Strassberger, chief of public affairs for the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs, was on hand at the rally to collect and deliver a series of letters activists have written to President Obama and Secretary Clinton expressing concern over the current US policy in Sudan.
Yahya Osman, vice president of the Darfur Rehabilitation Project, also spoke at the rally, and her remarks served as a quiet, but powerful, call to action to activists and policy makers alike. “Darfuris are living in hope, and dying in despair,” she said, “because they haven’t heard our voices.”