As members of congregations of various faiths in the Washington, D.C., area, we write today with continued concern for the people of Darfur, southern Sudan, and other marginalized areas throughout Sudan, including the oppressed in northern Sudan. We are troubled by the ongoing indiscriminate killings of innocent men, women, and children, gang rape and sexual violence against women and young girls that continues to plague the region, and the continued bombing and destruction of villages throughout Darfur, Abyei, and south Kordofan regions, as well as the possibility of a return to war between North and South Sudan.
The Darfur Interfaith Network of the Metropolitan D.C. area, along with GI-Net/Save Darfur Coalition, and other concerned people of faith, citizens, and groups throughout the D.C. area, will hold the second annual Hope for Darfur – Justice in Sudan rally on Sunday, May 15 to address these urgent concerns and call on our government and the international community to do more to help establish peace in Sudan. Here is the plan for the day:
1:30 p.m. – Walk from Metropolitan AME Church (1518 M St, NW) to Lafayette Park across from the White House, bringing together members of the faith community and activists from around the country to speak out for those in Darfur and Sudan who do not have a voice.
2:30 p.m. – Rally at Lafayette Park (Please note that in case of inclement weather participants will remain at Metropolitan AME Church where the program would then take place.)
The eventual normalization of U.S.-Sudanese relations must be contingent upon the resolution of the eight-year conflict in Darfur and the establishment of peace throughout Sudan. As members of diverse faiths, we urge our government to hold Omar al-Bashir and his government accountable for crimes against humanity and genocide, which they have committed, and ensure Khartoum is not prematurely rewarded. We expect President Obama and his administration to take a leadership role within the international community to help negotiate and establish peace and justice in Sudan.
We want the United States to remain firm in ensuring that Sudan fully implements the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which remains in the best interests of the Sudanese people. The full implementation of the agreement includes resolving the outstanding issues of citizenship, oil revenue-sharing, border demarcation, and the status of the contested Abyei region. Free and fair popular consultations in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states must also be well underway prior to Southern Sudan’s independence.
It is of utmost importance that United Nations peacekeepers have access to the conflict areas immediately so they can protect civilians. Aid agencies must have immediate access to areas where civilian men, women, and children continue to suffer.
It remains our prayer that as the turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East continues to unfold, people will not forget about the suffering that has plagued Darfur and Sudan from decades of neglect and abuse. We want the people of this region, this country, and the new nation of Southern Sudan to be able to live in peace with justice and dignity. We feel we all must take action to make this happen.
We are counting on the strength and compassion of American citizens and the international community to speak up for the people of Sudan who have suffered far too long and to help bring an end to this humanitarian crisis once and for all.
We hope you’ll join us in Washington on May 15.
Richard Young and Martha Boshnick are co-chairs of the Darfur Interfaith Network.