Please Support the Darfur Accountability Act
March 21, 2005
Approximately one year ago, many of us in the United States began to learn of the atrocities being committed in the Darfur region of Sudan. In June of 2004, the U.S. Congress labeled these acts genocide, international observers began investigating, and aid agencies began received more funds for their relief efforts. Many thought that would be the end of the crisis.
Sadly this was not the case. In January of this year the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur completed their mandate. In their report to the Secretary General, they found that "… the impact of the attacks on civilians shows that the use of military force was manifestly disproportionate to any threat posed by the rebels," and were "particularly alarmed that attacks on villages, killing of civilians, rape, pillaging and forced displacement have continued during the course of the Commission's mandate." While they have yet to find sufficient evidence to use the legal term "genocide" in describing the violence, they concluded "international offences such as the crimes against humanity and war crimes that have been committed in Darfur may be no less serious and heinous than genocide."
How many times have we heard "never again" — in reference to the Holocaust, the Khmer Rouge, Rwanda? Well over 300,000 people are believed to have died as a result of the warfare. Millions have been displaced from their homes, and now face disease, lack of basic necessities, and often the pain and stigma of sexual abuse. And yet even in this late day we are not powerless to act, to help a desperate people avoid further atrocities and the suffering of refugee life.
On March 2nd, Senator John Corzine of New Jersey introduced the Darfur Accountability Act of 2005 to the Senate. This bill would reinforce the American position that genocide is being committed; further, it would seek passage in the United Nations Security Council of measures that would, among other provisions:
- Place targeted sanctions on the Government of Sudan and key individuals;
- Create a "no-fly zone" over Darfur;
- Try suspected perpetrators of crimes against humanity through an international tribunal;
- Expand the African Union peacekeeping forces.
We, individual members of the United Religions Initiative (URI), ask that you contact your Senators today and ask them to support swift passage of the Darfur Accountability Act and to support holding trials for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court. We also suggest that your interfaith organizations and faith groups sign on to the Darfur Unity Statement (www.savedarfur.org), as we have asked the URI Global Council to consider at the next opportunity. Finally, we ask that you support the work of the many aid groups working throughout Sudan, and that you pass this letter on to your organizations' membership, your friends, and colleagues.
On behalf of the Darfur Action Group,
Stephen A. Fuqua
PS. Further background information and letter-writing suggestions are available at www.interfaithnews.net/darfur.
The Darfur Action Group is:
André Porto (Brazil)
Anne Roth (California)
Ardey Turner (California)
Barbara Hartford (California)
Betsy Stang (New York)
Byron Ballard (North Carolina)
Daniele Pimentel (Brazil)
Dave Randle (Utah)
Deborah Moldow (New York)
Elana Rozenman (Israel)
Gerardo Gonzalez (Chile)
Kristy Swapp (Utah)
Linda Kentro (Nepal)
Mary Page Sims (North Carolina)
Monica Willard (New York)
Mussie Hailu (Ethiopia)
Pat Moore (North Carolina)
Patricia Morningstar (Virginia)
Ray Signer (California)
Sally Mahé (California)
Stephen Fuqua (Minnesota)
Yehuda Stolov (Israel)