Visiting southern Sudan this week, actor George Clooney remarked to his travel companions (NBC’s Ann Curry and Enough’s John Prendergast): "If you knew a tsunami, or Katrina or a Haiti earthquake was coming, what would you do to save people?"
It’s worth asking ourselves this question as Sudan heads toward referenda in January which will determine what the future of the country holds. Sudan has garnered an encouraging boost in attention in recent weeks, but it is vital that we do not let our hopes rest on words and actions by a few individuals – inspiring though they may be.
To press for concrete follow-through, activists and members of the Sudanese diaspora across the United States are gearing up for a busy few months. The activities begin today, when the Sudan Freedom Walkers set off from College Park, Maryland and march to Washington, D.C. Washington is the final destination of their walk, which began on September 15 in New York. For nearly a month, the group has walked 10-15 miles a day to raise awareness about the challenges Sudan faces. When they arrive in Washington this afternoon, they’ll gather at American University’s Tenley Campus with students and faculty. Tomorrow the Freedom Walkers will converge on Capitol Hill for lobbying activities with various government leaders, members of the Congress, and officials of the Government of Southern Sudan.
In a culminating event for the Freedom Walk, activists, members of the Sudan diaspora, and political leaders will join the Freedom Walkers for a rally on the Capitol lawn on Thursday, October 7 from 1-3 p.m. Ultimately, the goal of the rally is to shed more light on the referendum in southern Sudan, the genocide being perpetrated against the people of Darfur, and the continuation of slavery and other human rights violations throughout Sudan. Speakers will include Simon Deng, who will discuss his time as a slave, Dr. Abdel Gabar Adam of Darfur, political leaders, and other distinguished guests. World-famous Sudanese musician and recording artist Emmanuel Jal will perform at this event.
The first Sudan Freedom Walk took place in the spring of 2006 with the participation of President George W. Bush and prominent senators and representatives. The march helped catalyze support for the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, which was signed by President Bush in October 2006.
The Sudan Freedom March website has all the details for taking part in what’s bound to be an inspiring rally.