Wednesday, April 23, 2008

STAPLES RALLY, and Letter to the Editor of NYTimes


Come rally STAPLES to be a


corporate sponsor of the 2008 BEIJING Olympics!

April 27, 2008

1:00pm to 3:00pm

Boston Commons

featuring a performance



"Memo to Bush on Darfur"

Columnist Nicolas Kristof wrote recently in the New York Times titled "Memo to Bush on Darfur" in which he suggested a 8-point plan to act on Darfur, and invited his readers to comment. Mohamed Elgadi, WMDC member, sent the following response:

Your call to link the Darfur issue to the whole Sudan makes a lot of sense and speaks directly to the call of the Sudanese opposition since 1989 when the National Islamic Front seized power in Sudan. The regime of President Omer al-Bashir succeeded to sustain power because he always put a wedge among different ethnic and political groups in Sudan.

However, in your Column you made couple of controversial points that face a lot of opposition from different human rights and political groups in Sudan and in the United States.

1) You called for bringing President Omer Elbashir in Anti-Genocide conference in Kigali is considered by many of us, especially the Sudanese, as an insult to the victims in Rwanda, Sudan and everywhere. A genocide mastermind like al-Bashir would not make anything to stop the killing orchestrated by his own regime.

2) The militarization of the region as outlined in your memo (#6-8) with a major role of the US would be another disastrous step by the Bush Administration. The major Sudanese opposition forces strongly warned against such arrogant step when some voices called few years ago to use the US military base in Djibouti in a swift strike. Actually this would help the regime in Khartoum more than any thing. They are waiting for such thing to happen to mobilize and rally the Sudanese people against the US ‘invasion’ of another Muslim country.
Any military action, if needed, should be under the leadership of the UN and better if the US did not participate at all with manpower.

Before we start thinking about military action we should use other methods that, as a Sudanese- American I know would work well. We should work with our allies to stop granting travel visa to any of President’s Bashir ruling party or his allies in Sudan (including their direct family members). Keeping those perpetrators ‘imprisoned’ in Sudan and freezing their assets would bring them quickly on their feet. Ask us, the Sudanese refugees, about these thieves who love to spend our stolen money in London, Paris, New York, and Toronto.

We should also stop sending confusing messages to the world by receiving many of the regime’s crime lords as high dignitaries in the State Dept or the CIA. Terrorism should be fought with ethics.

mohamed i. elgadi
Amherst, MA
W. Mass. Darfur Coalition

Next Meeting Tues May 20th

Next Western Mass Darfur Coalition Meeting
will be on
Tuesday, May 20, 2008, 7:30 pm

at the home of Magda and Mohamed

135 East Hadley Road, Amherst MA

For this meeting, send your items for the Agenda to Fanny

Deadline for items to be typed into the Agenda:

must be received by May 13

(and new items can always be added at the start of the meeting)

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Minutes of WMDC meeting of April 15, 2008

Present: Magda, Mohamed, Stephanie, Irwin, Martha

1. Situation: Darfur, South Sudan, Chad, United Nations, US Congress and US Administration.

Mohamed and Magda reported that people are being moved into the Darfur villages from which Darfurians have fled, that many are from other countries (such as Burkina Faso, Mali), as an "occupation" of the villages. Is making the situation extremely tense and a big question, how will Darfur people be able to return?

Also, in Sudan, focus is now on the census, which has been postponed for the time being. Who will be counted? (Census should be about every 10 years -- last one in the North was about 10 years ago, but in the South has been no census since the 1950s!)

South Sudan appears to be on brink of civil war again.

Nothing is happening about the UN peacekeepers (UNAMID) deployment to Sudan. The regime continues to veto forces from non-African countries and from countries it does not like. Helicopters still not available, and support services for them not ready in any case. The UN appears to have no way to enforce the UN resolutions. The US -- Congress and Administration -- are not exerting pressure, on Sudan or on China, which could easily influence Sudan, and China continues to transfer arms to Sudan.

All quite bleak.

2. March 28th meeting with Rep. Olver. (Irwin supplied a written report. Send email to if you want a copy.)

Rep. Olver said he will look into the $334 mil shortfall in the Congressional appropriation for UNAMID. (He is a member of the House Appropriations Committee.)

A House letter (Feb. 12, 2008) was signed by 118 members to request that the Chinese government influence Sudan to accept UNAMID.

Amherst Regional H.S. STAND and UMass STAND outlined their projects, such as raising funds for solar cookers for Darfur refugees (ARHS) and pressuring Staples to withdraw as a sponsor of the Olympics (UMass).

Mohamed suggested that the US lead an international effort to withhold travel visas and banking privileges from those high in the Sudan regime. Rep. Olver was interested in this strategy and WMDC (via Mohamed) will discuss further with him, and present a plan.

WMDC brought up the effectiveness of a boycott of China, not only of the Olympics but also of goods and services. Such actions were used re: South Africa, also Burma.

3. Stephanie reported on the Staples activities by UMass STAND. (Stephanie provided a written report. Send email to if you want a copy.) Noted that all of us should write letters to the corporate headquarters, urging Staples to withdraw as a sponsor of the Olympics. Address to

Ronald L. Sargent, Chairman and CEO, Staples Inc., 500 Staples Drive,

Framingham MA 01702. If you wish, you can FAX: 508-253-8989

RALLY on Monday, April 27, 11 am - 3 pm, on Boston Common, at the gazebo. Will have four speakers on: Stick to your promises US; Enforce UNAMID; All-Sudan Solution; Lobby China (to pressure Sudan).

Also reported on recent Washington DC Rally by STAND, near the White House, with civil disobedience, such as "die-in" -- got coverage on CNN.

4. Meeting in Norwell MA (eastern MA, near Cape Cod). Mohamed spoke at Unitarian-Universalist Society there, and a collection was taken for WMDC which brought in some needed funds. There isn't a local Darfur group there, but maybe after this meeting, one may start up.

5. San Francisco Rally: to focus on the Olympic torch and the "genocide" Olympics. At request of SaveDarfur, Mohamed arranged for a number of WMDC participants to be there. More than 200 protestors were present, more of them focusing on Tibet than on Darfur, but a good all-day rally and many criticizing China for failing to influence Sudan.

6. Forming a relationship with the Tibet group. Mohamed will explore, could be some joint actions relating to Tibet and Darfur, and China's responsibility to do the right thing on both counts.

7. Sisterhood for Peace: mainly based in Boston but active elsewhere too. Magda is a member of this group. She reported that the Sisterhood gave a letter to Kofi Annan about Darfur situation, asking him to make a public statement. For information about Sisterhood for Peace, see website,

8. Genocide Intervention Network. We think that WMDC may wish to make more use of the GIN information and resources, and perhaps work with GIN on some actions,

9. Center for International Education (CIE) forum. Mohamed heads up this panel. Not known yet which day WMDC will be scheduled, but WMDC will prefer Sat., June 14. At our next meeting, on May 20, we will have a detailed report on the plan and discuss any arrangements that are needed. The Darfur Children's Drawings are a necessary element of the forum and some help will be needed to get it ready.

Do you know that WMDC has a website (or blog) ? Go to

If anyone who attended has additions or corrections to the Minutes, please let me know.

-- from Martha Spiegelman, April 22, 2008

Friday, April 11, 2008

WMDC in San Francisco for Darfur Rally

It was a great Rally that is making a huge impact and highlighted locally, nationally and internationally.....
Our message to put more pressure on the Sudanese regime was strongly shared during the rally and with media (ABC and Newsweek)...
Our solidarity with the Tibetan people was made in a different ways including a Press Release to be published soon between WMDC and the Tibetan Youth Congress in Portland, OR.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Letter to Editor of Daily Hampshire Gazette

I hope this letter gets published in Daily Hampshire Gazette:

A way to affect genocide

Every person I have ever met is against genocide. But when faced with one going on in our own time — be it either the Rwandan genocide in 1994 or the current assault on survival in Darfur, Sudan — many people are saddened by their inability to act meaningfully to stop hundreds of thousands of people being killed or displaced from their homes.

In the next few days, however, we have the chance to do something. Two of the members of our W. Mass. Darfur Coalition, Magda Ahmed and Mohamed Elgadi, have just headed for San Francisco to participate in the Beijing Olympics Torch Relay Protest, part of a big call to China to stop supplying arms to the government of Sudan. And you at home can take another step to help ensure your personal investments are not funding a genocide. Thanks to a recent ruling by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Fidelity shareholders now have the unique opportunity to cast a vote for genocide-free investing.

A shareholder proposal submitted by Investors Against Genocide, a Boson-based non-profit organization, asks Fidelity to institute oversight procedures to screen out investments in companies that substantially contribute to genocide. Not surprisingly, Fidelity is advising its shareholders to vote against this proposal.

This shareholder proposal won 28% and 27% of the votes for the two Fidelity mutual funds that voted on March 19. This strong initial result is a very positive indication of the depth of shareholder concern regarding making mutual funds genocide-free.

At upcoming Fidelity shareholder meetings scheduled for April 16 and May 14, 19 Fidelity mutual funds will have a proxy ballot question on genocide-free investing. Fidelity shareholders can vote their shares by returning their proxy or attending the shareholder meeting. If they have already discarded their proxy materials, or have already voted and wish to change their vote, they can do so right up until the meeting at the Fidelity website.

For details about this important vote and more information on genocide-free investing, p
lease visit – and also check out local Darfur actions at our blog at

Thanks for your help,

W. Mass. Darfur Coalition/

Mohamed and Magda head for San Francisco for Dream for Darfur Olympic Torch Protest

Mohamed Elgadi and Magda Ahmed are heading for San Francisco as I write. Read more about the protest for Darfur below -- written by Dave Eggers, author most recently of the novel “What Is the What.”

THERE’S only one stop in North America on the Olympic torch’s 95,000-mile trip from Athens to Beijing, and that’s here. On April 9, standing side by side with sports fans along the parade route, there will be thousands of protesters who hope to bring attention to China’s complicity in the genocide in Darfur.

When the presidential campaigns swung, ever so briefly, through California, those advocating for Darfur tried to get the issue into the debates and on television. But nothing seemed to work. The last time a questioner raised the issue in a significant forum was during one of the YouTube debates last year.

During a speech in November, Hillary Rodham Clinton said of Darfur: “Every day we fail to act is a betrayal of our common values.” In a YouTube video last year, Barack Obama said: “We can’t say ‘never again,’ and then allow it to happen again.” In a similar video, John McCain said the United States “has the obligation to lead, to act.” But since then, the campaigns have been quiet on the subject of the 21st century’s first genocide.

It’s easy in California, far from the active primaries and farther from Sudan and China, to feel powerless. That’s why the organizers of the protest feel they have a rare opportunity to put the crisis back on the national stage. In 418,000 copies of the April 4 edition of The San Francisco Chronicle, subscribers will get a placard that on one side explains the connections between China and the genocide in Sudan, and on the other side says, “China: Extinguish the Flames of Genocide in Darfur.” How’s that for an early morning jolt?

The placard and the protest are the work of a group called the San Francisco Bay Area Darfur Coalition. Its thousand or so members have been agitating for more than a year to remind Americans that the violence in Sudan is increasing and that the time to act is now.

There are, of course, plenty of other issues that require discussion in this campaign, and Sudan can’t be part of every stump speech. Then again, maybe it should be. Numerous reports, in Darfur and in southern Sudan, indicate that violence is at a two-year high and that the country might be on the verge of a new and perhaps all-encompassing conflict.

My friend Valentino Achak Deng, a refugee from Sudan, just got back from southern Sudan last week where he was beginning construction on an educational complex in his hometown. He reports that along the southern border, there have been weekly clashes between the Sudanese Army and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, a rebel group that fought a long and protracted war with the government in the 1980s and ’90s.

Hundreds have been killed, and a good portion of the residents of the south fear there will again be war. If this happens, it could make the conflict in Darfur look like a skirmish.

“All the candidates have plans for what they’ll do in Sudan if they’re elected,” said Martina Knee of the Bay Area coalition’s executive committee. “But that’s too late, too long from now. They have to use their bully pulpit now.”

Will the demonstrators lining the parade route bring the topic back into the campaign and into the public consciousness? Is it audacious to hope?

Written by Dave Eggers, the author, most recently, of the novel “What Is the What.”

Next Meeting Tues April 15th

Western Mass Darfur Coalition - Next Meeting
on Tuesday, April 15, 2008, 7:30 pm
at home of Magda and Mohamed
135 East Hadley Road, Amherst MA


For the next meeting, send your agenda items to Martha Spiegelman,
Agenda items should be sent no later than Saturday, April 12.
The email notice with the agenda will be sent by email on Sunday, April 13.
Please write your agenda items as you want them to appear on the email notice, which will be sent out on Sunday, April 13.
Small preview for the April 15, 2008 meeting
--report on Center for Education forum at Umass in which we will participate;
--UMass STAND project re: put pressure on Staples to boycott Olympics
--Amherst Regional H.S. STAND spring actions
--report on meeting on March 28 with Rep. John Olver
We hope to see you at our next meeting on April 15, 2008!