Magazine article New African

Sudan African-Americans Want Action on Darfur: Enraged with the Slow Global Action on the Darfur Crisis, African-American Congressmen Are Resorting to Direct Action against Sudan to Draw Attention to the "Genocide" Being Committed by the Government-Backed Janjaweed Militia. Nate Clay and Bob Rhodes Report

Magazine article New African

Sudan African-Americans Want Action on Darfur: Enraged with the Slow Global Action on the Darfur Crisis, African-American Congressmen Are Resorting to Direct Action against Sudan to Draw Attention to the "Genocide" Being Committed by the Government-Backed Janjaweed Militia. Nate Clay and Bob Rhodes Report

Article excerpt

It is not just hot winds blowing across the wide expanse of the Sahara Desert causing the Sudanese president, Omar el-Bashir, to feel a little hot under the collar. It is the angry windstorms of African-American congressmen and women demanding action against the National Islamic Front (NIF) government in the Sudan.

Joined by anti-slavery activists as diverse as the Switzerland-based Christian Solidarity International (CSI) and the primarily African-American Sudan Campaign, the congressmen have launched a high-profile civil disobedience crusade to highlight the ongoing atrocities committed by the government-sponsored militiamen known as the Janjaweed.

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The actions of the congressmen were launched to coincide with the visit to Darfur by the UN secretary-general Kofi Annan and the US secretary of state Colin Powell. A Washington DC radio talk show host, Joe Madison, and former Congressman Walter Fauntroy organised the Sudan Campaign. The "strategy", says Emile Milne, public relations director for New York Congressman, Charlie Rangel, "is to get one prominent person arrested each day". Asked how long they plan to continue with this game plan, Milne replied: "As long as it takes to bring the Sudanese government to its knees."

Confronted with the documented evidence of large-scale suffering provided by international aid workers, UN officials and reporters from several media outlets, the government in Khartoum claims that the mass suffering has been caused by the armed rebels in Darfur.

Driven by these images, Rangel, 74, went to the Sudanese embassy in Massachusetts Avenue in northwest Washington on 13 July, blocked the entrance and struck a defiant pose. He was arrested, handcuffed and led to a waiting police van. He shouted to the crowd of protesters cheering him on: "When human lives are in jeopardy, there should be outrage." The following day, the Chicago Congressman, Bobby Rush, was also arrested. Twenty years ago, Rangel, a Democratic Party member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives, was arrested outside the South African embassy protesting against the apartheid system then in place in that country. …

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