It has been seven years, almost to the day, when the United States declared the situation in Darfur a genocide. Yet today Sudan and South Sudan remain in profound turmoil. Crimes against humanity and violence continue to be prevalent throughout Darfur, as well as in the disputed border regions of Abyei and South Kordofan. Furthermore, an estimated 5 million people across Sudan are currently internally displaced.
On a recent Saturday, members of the Sudanese diaspora, activists, and supporters gathered across the street from the White House in Washington, D.C., for a rally to bring attention to this seven-year mark and to the continued violence throughout Sudan. Rally participants assembled to form one voice of solidarity, to ask for justice in all of war-torn Sudan, and to remind the U.S. administration and the international community of their responsibility to protect people whose government does not protect them.
Families and individuals of all ages at the rally stood together, from elderly Sudanese waving flags to young children proudly draped in “Save Darfur” t-shirts down to their ankles. Many stood behind a banner comprised of individual posters strung together, each poster displaying the name of a village that had been destroyed by attacks. Other signs read phrases such as “Bashir to ICC,” “Stop the ongoing genocide in Darfur,” and “Obama, You Promised.”
In the sweltering D.C. summer heat, the crowd showed their unfaltering dedication to ensure that the U.S. and the international community pay attention to the ongoing violence in Sudan, take immediate action to protect civilians, hold President Bashir accountable, and work toward peace between and within Sudan and South Sudan.
Speakers delivered speeches and shared stories filled with poignancy, urgency, determination, and the demand for justice. They called on the U.S. and the international community to address the continuing violence in Sudan, much of which is orchestrated by the Sudanese government. Throughout the speeches, those participating in the rally cheered, shouted, and engaged in “Justice Justice for Sudan” call-and-responses. To demand immediate action for people who continue to suffer in Darfur, many activists and diaspora members in the crowd had also participated in a 24-hour hunger strike for Darfur, which had begun at noon the previous day.
Amid the continued violence and suffering across Sudan, and the lack of sufficient international response to date, the crowd of people gathered at Lafayette Square to rally for attention to Sudan was a hopeful sight. By standing in solidarity with Sudanese who are oppressed and targeted, they represent the strength of people who will not give up, who will not be silenced by inaction, and who are willing to be outspoken activists for peace. And in part because of that strength, hopefully the children at the rally who were holding signs, helping distribute fliers, and tugging on their parents’ flags will one day live to see peace throughout both Sudans.