Remember Rwanda by Defending Darfur

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

War on Terror’ Ties with Sudan No Excuse for U.S. Inaction on Genocide, Says Africa Action

Yesterday the world recognized the 14th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. To honor the memory of the 800,000 people who lost their lives in this tragedy, Africa Action today called for new U.S. leadership to end the first genocide of the 21st century in Darfur, Sudan. Africa Action released several new policy resources on Darfur today, including "The Ties that Bind Bush and Bashir," a report exposing the 'war on terror' intelligence collaboration between the governments of the U.S. and Sudan.

"Despite a lot of high-minded rhetoric, the Bush administration has yet to make a meaningful impact on the lives of vulnerable Darfuris," said Gerald LeMelle, Africa Action's Executive Director. "More than one quarter of the way into 2008, the violence in Darfur looks just like that of 2003, and 80,000 people have been displaced this year already. Yet since the same men in the Sudanese government orchestrating deliberate attacks on civilians provide the U.S. with intelligence for the so-called 'war on terror,' President Bush refuses to make peace and protection for the people of Sudan a foreign policy priority. By speaking out on Darfur but refusing to act, he remains as complicit to genocide as President Clinton was in 1994."

This January, the U.S. introduced a new Special Envoy for Sudan, veteran diplomat Richard Williamson. Although this appointment brought much official fanfare, so far, Special Envoy Williamson’s energy has been concentrated in the wrong direction.

"Rich Williamson is trying to scapegoat the United Nations (UN) for the current catastrophe," said Michael Swigert, Africa Action's Program Associate for Policy Analysis and Communications. "This is pure hypocrisy on the part of the U.S. government. The UN depends on the will of member states. Lack of U.S. diplomatic and financial support is a prime reason the 26,000-person UN-African Union hybrid peacekeeping operation (UNAMID) is so far behind schedule. Rather than blaming the UN as an institution, the Bush administration should take advantage of the public spotlight activists have placed on China in the build up to the 2008 Summer Olympics. The U.S. must put strong diplomatic pressure on Beijing to stop supporting the genocidal regime in Khartoum."

To raise awareness and mobilize public pressure on the U.S. to exert leadership, Africa Action will hold Witnessing Genocide: A Forum for Reflection and Action, this Friday April 11, from 7:00 – 9:00 PM at Howard University’s Blackburn Center in Washington, DC. The event will celebrate the diversity of the culture and history of Darfur and Sudan as a whole and promote a comprehensive perspective that views the crisis in Darfur in a national and regional context.

For more information on this upcoming forum and the latest Africa Action resources on the crisis in Darfur, including "The Ties that Bind Bush and Bashir," please visit

Africa Action