Three Sudan Campaign Activists Get Arrested to Wake World Community to Sudan 'Genocide'

( [email protected] ) Jul 21, 2004 07:46 PM EDT

Three more people succeeded in deliberately being arrested on Tuesday in front of the Sudan Embassy as part of a campaign to draw attention to the genocide crisis in Sudan through high-profile arrests. Recent arrests have included pastors, several congressmen, and the General Secretary of National Council of Churches Rev. Bob Edgar.

The U.S. Secret Service police arrested Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D-Pa.), his wife Francesca Hoeffel, and comedian, now activist, Dick Gregory outside the Sudan Embassy in Washington on July 20 during a demonstration intended to wake the world community in addressing the crisis in Sudan.

The United Nations reports that over 1 million have been displaced and an estimated 30,000 have been killed after African rebels from Sudan's Dafur province launched a revolt against Khartoum in February 2003.

Rep. Hoeffel has joined the Sudan Campaign which calls on Congress to pass House Concurrent Resolution 467, which declares the slaughter in Dafur, Sudan, a genocide and calls on the Bush Administration to take immediate actions.

"The crisis in Darfur fits every definition of genocide," said Hoeffel in a press release, "and must be labeled as such by the United Nations and its member countries."

"The UN Security Council must immediately pressure the Sudanese government to end its support for the violence and to drop its restrictions on the delivery of much needed aid to the region. We must act now before this catastrophe escalates any further."

The Sudan Campaign described itself as the "direct action effort of a coalition of organizations working on behalf black Africans in Sudan that have suffered violence and slavery at the hands of their government." Groups enlisted in the campaign include The Center for Religious Freedom at Freedom House, the Institute on Religion and Democracy, the American Anti-slavery group, and the Wilberforce Project.

Starting with the arrest of Rep. Walter Fauntroy and talk show host Joe Madison outside the Sudan Embassy on June 29, a series of arrests have followed. Since then, high-profile figures who have been arrested include: Pastor Raymond Bell of Washington, D.C., Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), President of NCC Bob Edgar, a former House Representative, and Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.).

The Congressional Black Caucus is demanding that the Sudanese government end its support of the Janjaweed militant group, thought responsible for the ethnic cleansings and wants sanctions imposed against the Sudanese government. The Khartoum government has denied any involvement in the attacks though a Human Rights Watch report released on Monday suggested the government is responsible for recruiting and arming the militiamen.

In recent weeks, the U.S. has been pressuring the Sudanese government to more proactively control the Janjaweed. The crisis has reached a point where parallels are being made between the Sudan crisis and the Rwanda genocide, in which 800,000 people were killed.

However, the chaos has persisted with little effort from the Sudanese government to halt the violence.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said Tuesday that he warned senior Sudanese officials on Sunday that President Bush and other foreign leaders "remain completely dissatisfied" with Khartoum's efforts to end the violent campaign by Arab militias.

"Not enough is being done to break the hold of the Janjaweed," said Powell.

Furthermore, Amnesty International, a human rights watch group, has reported that the Arab militias have launched a campaign to rape women and young girls as young as 8 in an effort to create social stigma and drive the the Sudanese from their villages.

About 175,000 have crossed the border to the neighboring country, Chad, according to human-rights organizations, and about 1.2 million are displaced in Sudan.

"Rapes are still occurring," Powell said. "People do not feel safe leaving the camps to go out and forage for food. The situation remains very, very serious, and first and foremost the security has to be dealt with."

Powell plans to meet with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan on Thursday to discuss the possibility of U.N. Security Council action against the Khartoum government, according State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.

The Sudan Campaign said that more arrests can be expected until the world community wakes up.