Allyn Brooks-LaSure (Save Darfur), 202-478-6174
Jonathan Freedman (Dream for Darfur), 212-751-3326
Nanda Chitre (ENOUGH), 202-481-8245
Sam Bell (GI-Net), 202-481-8130
Sean Redding (STAND), 847-909-7787
Statement: ‘Beijing should not be allowed to bask in the warm glow of peace and brotherhood associated with the opening games if China is still underwriting atrocities in Darfur and still has not done what it should to bring peace and security to Sudan’
WASHINGTON – Unless the UNAMID peacekeeping force is effectively protecting civilians in Darfur by August, leading Darfur advocacy organizations today said world leaders should not attend the Beijing Olympics opening ceremonies in August. In a joint statement, the Save Darfur Coalition, ENOUGH Project, STAND: A Student Anti-Genocide Coalition, Genocide Intervention Network and Dream for Darfur, denounced China’s continued enabling of Sudan’s destructive campaign against Darfuri civilians.
The groups – while emphasizing that they are not calling for any nation, athlete, or corporate sponsor to boycott the sporting events of the Olympics – questioned how President Bush and other heads of state could enjoy the pageantry of the opening ceremonies while Darfuris continue to suffer.
“How can world leaders watch the lighting of the Olympic torch – under the ‘one world, one dream’ banner – without taking bolder action to extinguish the flames of violence still consuming the defenseless men, women and children of Darfur?” the groups asked in their joint statement. “We call on world leaders not to attend the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. As Darfur advocates, we will continue to make this call until the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force is effectively protecting civilians in Sudan.”
The groups earlier this year released a joint position paper outlining the necessary and essential steps China needs to take to end the growing public outcry over China's hosting of the Olympics Games while underwriting a genocide in Darfur.
As Sudan’s chief diplomatic sponsor, major weapons provider, and largest foreign investor and trade partner, China is in a unique position to help bring peace and security to the people of Darfur. Specifically, China should use its influence on the Sudanese government so that it permits the swift, full and effective deployment of the UNAMID peacekeeping force; implements the North-South peace deal and participate constructively in the Darfur peace process; and allows the unfettered delivery of humanitarian aid in Darfur and Eastern Chad.
“Beijing should not be allowed to bask in the warm glow of peace and brotherhood associated with the opening games if China is still underwriting atrocities in Darfur and still has not done what it should to bring peace and security to Sudan,” the statement said.
Full Joint Statement on Olympic Opening Ceremonies
We call on world leaders not to attend the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. As Darfur advocates, we will continue to make this call until the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force is effectively protecting civilians in Sudan.
The peacekeeping force, known as UNAMID, was authorized by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1769 on July 31, 2007. China was president of the Council at that time and pushed for the resolution’s passage. Thus, after years of thwarting UN action against Sudan, China seemed to begin to play a modestly constructive role. China, itself, claimed credit for advancing peace and security for the people of Darfur.
Unfortunately, Beijing’s assertion was both premature and inaccurate. The Government of Sudan has put up a series of obstacles to UNAMID’s deployment. Even more dishearteningly, Sudan has again stepped up its campaign of terror in Darfur, destroying villages in West Darfur, killing innocent civilians, and displacing tens of thousands more. A robust peacekeeping force is an essential element of a strategy to stop the violence and allow people to return home.
In substantial part, Khartoum has been able to ignore the UN’s will and continue its violent acts because of China’s fierce diplomatic protection. Beijing helped strip sanctions language from UNAMID’s authorizing resolution, signaling to Sudan that it could block deployment of the force with impunity. Soon after the resolution’s passage, China also resumed its role as apologist for the actions of Khartoum at the United Nations.
As Sudan’s largest economic partner, major military supplier, and chief diplomatic supporter, Beijing is in an unrivaled position to persuade Sudan to change its behavior. Beijing can use its vast influence to insist that Khartoum consents to the swift and effective deployment of UNAMID; that Khartoum halts its military operations, as well as those of the Janjaweed, that directly or indirectly target civilians; and that Khartoum engages constructively in the peace process. By not using that influence, China remains the primary enabler of the atrocities committed by the Government of Sudan against the people of Darfur.
July 31st 2008 – eight days before the opening of the Olympics – will mark one full year since the unanimous passage of Resolution 1769, authorizing the peacekeeping force. If UNAMID is not effective by the start of the Games, the past 12 months can only be viewed as an abject failure of world leaders generally, and in particular of China’s leaders who wield such strong influence both within the Security Council and with the Sudanese government.
We are not calling on any nation, athlete, or corporate sponsor to boycott the sporting events of the Olympics.
We are calling on world leaders to finish the job of seeing that UNAMID is effectively deployed before they attend the opening ceremony. And finishing the job requires China to be much more assertive with the Government of Sudan.
We are saying that unless UNAMID is effectively deployed, China should not be given the international prestige and recognition that the presence of world leaders at the opening ceremonies would convey. Beijing should not be allowed to bask in the warm glow of peace and brotherhood associated with the opening games if China is still underwriting atrocities in Darfur and still has not done what it should to bring peace and security to Sudan.
How can world leaders watch the lighting of the Olympic torch – under the “one world, one dream” banner – without taking bolder action to extinguish the flames of violence still consuming the defenseless men, women and children of Darfur?
About the Save Darfur Coalition – The Save Darfur Coalition raises public awareness about the ongoing genocide in Darfur and mobilizes a unified response to the atrocities that threaten the lives of people throughout the Darfur region. It is an alliance of more than 180 faith-based, advocacy and human rights organizations. The coalition’s member organizations represent 130 million people of all ages, races, religions and political affiliations united together to help the people of Darfur. For more information on the coalition, please visit www.SaveDarfur.org. To obtain footage from the Darfur border region, coalition events, various interviews, and more, please visit the Save Darfur Coalition media gallery at http://media.savedarfur.org. All footage may be previewed in non-broadcast quality and may be purchased in broadcast quality by filling out the purchase request form provided on the site.
About Dream for Darfur – Olympic Dream for Darfur is a global advocacy campaign. Our goal is to secure protection for civilians in Darfur. Our strategy is to use the 2008 Olympics to focus attention on the special relationship between Sudan and China. China, host of the next Olympics, is uniquely positioned to exert real and consequential influence to help resolve the crisis in Darfur. For more information, please visit www.dreamfordarfur.org
About the Genocide Intervention Network – The Genocide Intervention Network is working to build the first permanent anti-genocide constituency in the United States, mobilizing the political will to stop genocide when it occurs. Accessible online at www.GenocideIntervention.net, GI-Net empowers individuals with tools to stop genocide through education, fundraising for civilian protection and advocacy efforts.
About the ENOUGH Project – ENOUGH is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. With an initial focus on the crises in Sudan, Chad, eastern Congo, and northern Uganda, ENOUGH’s strategy papers and briefings provide sharp field analysis and targeted policy recommendations based on a “3P” crisis response strategy: promoting durable peace, providing civilian protection, and punishing perpetrators of atrocities. ENOUGH works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve these crises. To learn more about ENOUGH and what you can do to help, go to www.enoughproject.org.
About STAND – STAND: A Student Anti-Genocide Coalition ( www.standnow.org) comprises more than 700 high school and college chapters throughout the U.S. and internationally. STAND mobilizes students to take action to prevent genocide by educating, advocating and fundraising for civilian protection. STAND is the student division of the Genocide Intervention Network.