Thursday, September 27, 2007

BUSH: UN should live up to its promise in Darfur

This morning, 9/25, President George W. Bush gave remarks at the United Nations General Assembly. He discussed a number of different issues worldwide, including the genocide in Darfur .

“In Sudan , innocent civilians are suffering repression -- and in the Darfur region, many are losing their lives to genocide. America has responded with tough sanctions against those responsible for the violence. We've provided more than $2 billion in humanitarian and peacekeeping aid. The United Nations must answer this challenge to conscience, and live up to its promise to promptly deploy peacekeeping forces to Darfur.”

This afternoon, the President participated in a meeting with the United Nations Security Council on Africa where he again stressed the importance of ending this genocide in Darfur .

“We call on the government in Khartoum to facilitate the deployment of a robust U.N. peacekeeping force to save life. We call on all parties to cease arm sales to the combatants. We expect people gathered around this table to send a focused message that innocent life matters. We expect President Bashir to observe a cease-fire during next month's peace talks, and we want the rebels to do the same.”

Links to the Presidents remarks to both the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Security Council Meeting on Africa can be found below.

Remarks to the UN General Assembly

Remarks to the UN Security Council Meeting on Africa

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Upcoming Events for October '07

Dear Darfur Supporters,

Please note that our next meeting is on Tuesday, October 16th at 7 pm at 135 E. Hadley Rd in Amherst -- so mark your calendars for this and the events below.

Please note the new UMass STAND group along with Mt. Holyoke and other college groups are sponsoring a RALLY as part of the state-wide Dream for Darfur Torch Relay on Sunday, October 7th on the Amherst Town Common from 1 to 4 pm. They have invited legislators to speak so please come and let these legislators know that Darfur must be on their agenda.

Also note that “Voices for Darfur” concert will be held Oct. 21st from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Weinstein Auditorium at Smith College’s Wright Hall. Mohamed and Magda's daughter Sarah will be performing (she's an accomplished singer up from NYC with her singing partner Fatima) along with Evelyn Harris, internationally renowned singer formerly of Sweet Honey in the Rock; the Amandla Community Chorus, known for performing international songs of justice and celebration; 5-Alone, the award-winning PVPA jazz a cappella group; Mak’hela, the celebrated Jewish Chorus of Western Mass; and High Definition, the Northampton-based vocal ensemble.

Monday, September 24, 2007

An Appeal to China from W. Massachusetts


Addressed to:
His Excellency Hu Jintao,
President, People's Republic of China
c/o His Excellency Zhon Wen Zhong,

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Embassy of the People's Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008

Since 2003, the Sudanese government has fought the guerilla insurgencies in Darfur by targeting innocent civilians. Hundreds of thousands have been killed and 2.5 million displaced into inadequate refugee camps. The US Congress, on July 23, 2004, declared that the atrocities unfolding in Darfur are genocide.

Despite a world-wide outcry against the Darfur Genocide, the killing continues. In August, 2006, UN Security Council resolution 1706 called for a robust UN peacekeeping force, but the Sudanese government had prevented its deployment in Darfur. On July 31, 2007, the UN Security Council Resolution 1769 passed unanimously, calling for a hybrid UN/AU (Organization of African Unity) force of 26,000 to be deployed by the end of the year. The world community must exert maximum pressure on the Sudanese regime, and also on China to ensure that the peacekeepers do their job.

China, through its development of Sudanese oil resources and provision of loans, is the mainstay of the Sudanese economy and it continues to supply arms and has defended Sudan in the UN Security Council. Experts agree that if China applies maximum pressure, the Sudanese regime will be forced to allow in the UN/AU peacekeepers. Our task is to convince China to exert that pressure on Sudan.

A May 7, 2007 letter from 108 members of the US House of Representatives to Hu Jintao, President of China says, in part:
[ ……the upcoming 2008 Beijing Olympic Games are going to be an important event for the image of the PRC [People's Republic of China]…It would be a disaster for China if the games were marred by protests from concerned individuals and groups who will undoubtedly link your government to the continued atrocities in Darfur….Already there are calls to boycott what is increasingly being described as the "2008 Genocide Olympics."…we urge you to protect your country's image from being irredeemably tarnished, through association with a genocidal regime, for the purposes of economic gains.]

Informed citizens around the globe are convinced that China has the power to force Sudan to stop the genocide and to permit the UN/AU peacekeepers into Darfur.
If China fails to act, millions are likely not only protest and boycott the "Genocide Olympics" (the 2008 Summer Olympics will be held in China), but may well, in their extreme frustration, turn to boycotting other Chinese products and services.

Name and Date___________________________


Please sign this appeal, circulate it within your network for more signatures and send it to the President of China c/o the Chinese Embassy, Washington, DC (the full address is under the heading at the top of the page)

Issued by
Western Mass Darfur Coalition

Labor Donated


John Olver's office, through an administrative oversight, missed the opportunity to sign on to Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) May 07 letter to President Hu of China, demanding action on Darfur. This strongly worded letter had urged the Chinese government to take immediate action to save innocent lives and help bring an end to the conflict in Darfur. Withina few days Mr. Olver signed a separate but comparable letter to the Chinese President. The letter appears below.

Letter to President Hu of China on Darfur
May 16, 2007
President Hu Jintao
C/o Ambassador Zhou WenzhongEmbassy of China
2300 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.Washington DC 20008

Dear President Hu,
I wish to add my name to the list of over one hundred Members of Congress who wrote you last week to register their grave concern regarding the ongoing genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan.I request that you use your significant influence with the government of Sudan to ensure that it allows free conduct of humanitarian operations in Darfur and brings an end to the atrocities against innocent civilians. As the party that negotiated the inclusion of a clause to UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1706 requiring the consent of the Sudanese government for the deployment of a United Nations (UN) peacekeeping force, the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) bears a special responsibility to ensure, through decisive diplomacy and action, that President al-Bashir does provide that consent to the full implementation of phases II and III of the Addis Ababa Agreement of November 16, 2006.
The conflict waged by Sudanese government forces and government-backed Janjawid militias has driven more than 230,000 Darfuri refugees into Chad, and displaced more than 120,000 Chadians. In addition, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed and an estimated 2 million displaced in Darfur itself. The conflict has had particularly devastating consequences for women and children, who make up the vast majority of victims. The attacks against, and murder of over a dozen relief workers in recent months has disrupted humanitarian operations —leaving hundreds of thousands without access to the most basic assistance. I welcome the news that Sudan has been removed from the list of countries that your government provides incentives for Chinese businesses to invest in, and the public and private efforts you have made to encourage the government in Khartoum to accept the deployment of peacekeepers into the Darfur region. However, the PRC can and must do more. Unfortunately, the PRC remains the largest foreign investor in Sudan, and recently provided the government of Sudan an interest-free loan, worth $17m to build a presidential palace. Unfortunately, the PRC has reportedly been engaged in arms sales with the government of Sudan, arms which are used by government forces and the Janjweed militia to maim and kill innocent Sudanese civilians. These actions send the wrong message to Khartoum, as does the recent cancellation of a $70m dollar debt that the Sudanese government owes to the PRC, and the China’s projects to rehabilitate Sudan’s railways and water ports.

I urge you to impress upon Khartoum the need to halt Sudan's military operations throughout Darfur, to withdraw Sudanese troops from the area, and to honor its commitment to accept the ‘heavy support package’ which includes a robust AU/UN peacekeeping force in Darfur, under a UN-appointed commander, police officers, civilian staff and humanitarian workers. These steps, at a minimum, are essential to enforce the ceasefire, protect civilians, ensure access to humanitarian assistance, and begin the path to reconstruction and reconciliation in Darfur. I further urge that should a resolution be put forward at the UNSC proposing sanctions on the government of Sudan for non-compliance with its agreements or non-cooperation with the UN peace-keeping force, you instruct your Ambassador, at the United Nations, to support the resolution by, at the very least, abstaining from voting.

President Hu, the upcoming 2008 Beijing Olympic Games are going to be an important event for the image of the PRC. Millions of people will visit China, and over a billion people will tune into their radios and televisions to witness the expression of international peace and solidarity, through friendly competition in sports. It would be a disaster for China if the games were to be marred by protests, from concerned individuals and groups, whom will undoubtedly link your government to the continued atrocities in Darfur, if there is no significant improvement in the conditions. Already there are calls to boycott what is increasingly being described as the 2008 ‘Genocide Olympics.’ As Sudan’s single largest trading partner, and the main beneficiary of their significant crude oil exports and construction contracts, we urge you to protect your country’s image from being irredeemably tarnished, through association with a genocidal regime, for the purposes of economic gains. The primary objectives are to protect civilians in Darfur, end the violence, find a just resolution to the political conflict, and begin the long path to reconstruction and reconciliation, and we hope China shares these objectives. The international community is stepping up to its responsibilities, but unless China does its part to ensure that the government of Sudan accepts the best and most reasonable path to peace, history will judge your government as having bank-rolled a genocide.Thank you for your immediate attention to this important matter and I look forward to your response.

John W. Olver
Member of Congress

Friday, September 14, 2007

Darfur Legislative Update

From the FCNL site:

Darfur Legislative Update
September 11, 2007

Congress returned to work last week after a month-long recess. The full Senate passed the State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill (FYO8) on September 6 (the House passed this bill earlier this year) and now the Foreign Ops bill needs to go to conference committee. Both the House and Senate versions of the bill contained hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for Sudan . In addition to completing regular FY08 appropriations this fall, Congress is planning to pass an FY08 emergency supplemental that could include additional funds for Sudan.

In this message:
1) UNSC Res. 1769
2) Sudan Divestment Legislation
3) China ’s Special Representative on Darfur in Washington
4) Secretary-General Ban Ki- Moon in Sudan
5) Upcoming Events
6) Recent Reports

1) United Nations Security Council Res. 1769
On July 31, 2007 the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1769 which authorized the establishment of a new joint African Union-UN hybrid peacekeeping mission (UNAMID). Many commentators celebrated this decision as a significant step toward protecting civilians and resolving the crisis in Darfur . AMIS, the current African Union (AU) mission force in Darfur , will be incorporated into UNAMID. Resolution 1769 authorized approximately 27,500 personnel, including military, observers and civilian police components. UNAMID is expected to cost between $2.4 and $2.6 billion a year. When fully deployed, UNAMID will be the largest peacekeeping operation in the world.

But many questions remain unanswered. The UN force will not be fully deployed for many months, leaving the beleaguered AU mission as the only protection force on the ground. The splintering of rebel groups since the May 2006 Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) has made the security situation increasingly precarious. The daily attacks on humanitarian workers and assets have placed the world’s largest humanitarian response in jeopardy – with potentially catastrophic consequences. As the deployment of UNAMID moves forward, a ceasefire and revitalized peace process, including renewed efforts to promote a civil society dialogue, are also urgently needed. Addressing the political, economic and social dimensions of the conflict are crucial to building sustainable peace in Darfur and throughout Sudan .

2) Sudan Divestment Legislation
The Darfur Accountability and Divestment Bill, H.R.180, which would bar federal contracts to companies that do business with the Sudanese government, passed the House on July 31, by a vote of 418-1. After passage, the bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, where it has been held up by several Senators. Contact the Global Intervention Network: or Save Darfur: to learn how you can help.

Also, the Sudan Divestment Authorization Act of 2007 (S. 831), legislation introduced by Senator Durbin in March, has been referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, but has not yet been considered.

3) China 's Special Representative on Darfur in Washington
China 's special envoy on Darfur was in Washington D.C. in early September to speak with President Bush and lawmakers to explain China 's role in Sudan . Many in the international community have called on China to use its economic influence in Sudan to urge the government to pursue peace in Darfur .

During the week, China 's envoy, Liu Guijin, defended his government's role in Sudan , saying that "western countries who condemn China 's oil interests in Sudan are guilty of hypocrisy." He further stated that the international community needs to be focused on a political dialogue among the parties, alongside support for the AU-UN hybrid force. Read more about Guijin’s visit:;_ylt=AhnDeA7bi_UL07q_Jc6mFmdsaMYA

4) Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in Sudan
Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon met with President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan in early September and in a joint news conference on Sept. 6, 2007, announcing the start of renewed peace talks on Darfur to be held in Libya . The talks will begin on October 27, and will be led by the African Union and UN Special Envoys. The Secretary General urged all parties to commit to cease all hostilities immediately, achieve a political solution to the crisis, create an environment conducive to dialogue, and move forward with negotiations:

5) Upcoming Events
- On September 16, the fourth Global Day for Darfur will be held. Vigils will be held in more than 40 countries in support of implementing UNSC Res. 1769 and moving forward with the peace process in Sudan :

- On September 25, President Bush will attend a high level meeting on African Security, with a focus on Darfur , at the United Nations General Assembly.

- Save Darfur is launching its "Voices from Darfur" speaking tour, which will feature displaced persons from Darfur, throughout the United States this fall. The goal is to remind U.S. citizens that the situation in Darfur remains in a state of crisis:

6) Recent Reports

-The International Crisis Group has recently issued a report entitled, A Strategy for Comprehensive Peace in Sudan . According to the report, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which brokered a peace in the south in 2005 is dangerously close to collapsing due to neglect by the international community and government sabotage. The CPA is purported to be the way forward for a fair share of national resources, increased economic opportunities for Southern Sudan , and the democratization process. In the end, the report gives several recommendations to all the parties noting that peace in the South is inextricably linked to Darfur . A complete breakdown of the CPA could lead to a war of greater magnitude in Sudan . Access the full report online here:

- Echoes of Genocide in Darfur and Eastern Chad ( This report challenges the argument that Darfur and Eastern Chad are sliding into a “ Somalia – like” chaos. Although groups are splintering and the loyalties of some actors are less clear, the chains of command are still intact and Khartoum is still the main purveyor of violence. Finally, the authors argue, accurate analysis is needed by experts and the advocacy community to ensure that UNAMID’s mission is guided by the facts on the ground.