Wednesday, April 23, 2008

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

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