This past weekend witnessed two major developments related to the genocide in Darfur. First, about 15,000 demonstrators from very diverse backgrounds descended on the mall in Washington D. C. in order to urge the U. S. government to do what it can to “Save Darfur.” The diversity of the demonstrators was reflected in the list of speakers who gave addresses. You had liberals like George Clooney and Al Sharpton on the one hand, and conservatives like Richard Land on the other. Liberals, conservatives, Jews, protestants, evangelicals, blacks, whites, and others all united in behalf of Darfur. The Washington Post reports:
They wore skullcaps, turbans, headscarves, yarmulkes, baseball hats and bandanas. There were pastors, rabbis, imams, youths from churches and youths from synagogues. They cried out phrases in Arabic and held signs in Hebrew. But on this day, they said, they didn’t come out as Jews or Muslims, Christians or Sikhs, Republicans or Democrats.
They came out as one, they said, to demand that the Bush administration place additional sanctions on Sudan and push harder for a multinational peacekeeping force to be sent to Darfur . . .
Among the speakers were Rabbi David Saperstein; Al Sharpton; Joe Madison, a liberal black radio talk-show host who has been pushing the issue; Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention; rap and fashion mogul Russell Simmons; and former basketball star Manute Bol, who is himself Sudanese . . .
President Bush, who met with Darfur advocates at the White House on Friday, praised the protesters and said the United States is serious about solving the problem.
But protesters said he needs to do more (source).
All of this rallying in behalf of Darfur comes in the context of another failed peace agreement among the dueling factions in Darfur, which is the second major development in this story over the weekend. President Bush and the U. S. had high hopes for peace talks that were taking place in Khartoum between the Sudanese government and the three non-Arab rebel groups they are feuding with. But those talks fell through when the non-Arab rebel groups would not sign on. As The New York Times reports:
The United States has placed nearly all of its hopes for a resolution of the crisis on the Abuja peace talks, and a failure there would leave the Bush administration without a viable option to end the violence in the foreseeable future (source).
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking Sunday morning on ABC News, noted that “the United States has been one of the most active states” in working to resolve the crisis.
“Let me just say,” she added, “the president has passion about this issue” (source).
What exactly will be the U.S.’s next move, should the 48 hour extension elapse on these peace talks, remains to be seen. One thing is for sure, pressure seems to be building here in the U.S. to do something, and the issue is not going away anytime soon.
Celebrities, activists rallying for Darfur in D.C. – Associated Press
Thousands Join Rally for Darfur – Washington Post
Rally Unites Diverse Voices – Washington Post
NARRATED GALLERY – Washington Post
Sudanese Rebels Reject Peace Offer – Washington Post
Deadline Passes Without Darfur Accord – New York Times