WASHINGTON – "Save Darfur," "Not On Our Watch," "Never Again" posters floated amid a sea of blue caps Sunday in front of the Sudanese embassy.
Over 400 local advocates joined at least 25 Darfurians in a protest focused on demanding an end to rape and sexual violence in the Darfur region of Sudan. Protestors donned a blue cap representing U.N. peacekeeping troops and a white scarf symbolizing the international color of peace.
"It is the women of Darfur that make the decision to get the wood, to get the water, to go out and face rape so that their husbands and sons won’t be murdered," declared radio host Joe Madison at the rally. "It is a choice they have to make everyday between rape [and] violence or having the men and boys in their families murdered."
The Washington rally was part of the Global Day of Action for Darfur coordinated in over 40 countries at Sudanese embassies.
In addition to the protest, some 1,300 U.S. houses of worship participated in the Weekend of Prayer for Darfur from Dec. 8-10.
"We don’t know who is going to free us. We don’t know who is going to stop the screams. It is so sad," said Mohamed A. Yahya during the Darfur portion of service at Church of the Pilgrims on Sunday. Yahya, who knows that at least 21 of his family members were killed by the conflict, was one of the first to alert the world on the Darfur killings in 1993. Yahya is founder and executive director of DAMANDA Coalition for Freedom and Democracy.
Darfur is one of the largest regions in Sudan and is about the size of the state of Texas or the country of France. Since 2003, at least 400,000 civilians have been killed and more than 2.5 million displaced from their homes. More than 3.5 million Darfurians have been affected out of a total population of about 7 million.
According to Motasim Adam, a Darfurian refugee who now resides in New York, "Now they burn all the villages in Darfur. There is no single village or suburb in Darfur. They burn entire rural area in Darfur."
Adam said that since Dec. 2, janjaweed militia have begun attacking the three remaining cities in Darfur and on Saturday his cousin was shot in front of his store.