Washington DC Marchers Protest Darfur Genocide
More than 100 people marched and attended an interfaith rally Sunday in Washington to protest the status of genocide victims in the Darfur region of Sudan.
"President Obama, President Obama, President Obama, President Obama, stop the violence in Sudan, stop the violence in Sudan."
The march began under gray skies and light rain symbolically at the Holocaust Museum, where the murder of six million Jews in World War II is documented and remembered.
Darfur rebel groups have been fighting troops and militia of the Sudanese government since 2003.
The United Nations says the violence has killed up to 300,000 people and displaced some 2.7 million others.
The march was called Hope for Darfur, Justice in Sudan.
"We are hoping to send out a message to people in Darfur that there are people who still care, people who worry about them and people willing to work and take to the streets to support their needs and their cause," said march co-chair Richard Young.
The march was organized by the Darfur Interfaith Network, which consists of Christians, Muslims, Jews and other faiths in congregations throughout the Washington area.
"Well I think we hope to both empower and to educate," said the Senior Rabbi of Washington Hebrew Congregation M. Bruce Lustig. "To take an opportunity to make sure that the indifference that the American people have had to the cause in Darfur ends, that we recognize we are all part of one human family and that it is very important that we stand up and that we make our voices be heard."
A recent report from the United Nations says clashes between government forces and rebel groups continue to cause substantial civilian casualties, displace communities and hamper the delivery of humanitarian assistance.
The marchers are calling for more pressure on the Sudanese government from the Obama administration.
Three years ago a group of interfaith activists began to hold monthly vigils at the Sudanese Embassy in Washington to speak up for the people of Darfur.
"We really are calling upon President Obama to make this a priority the way that President Clinton did with Bosnia," said group member Laura Cutler. "You know you can send all the envoys in the world, you can listen, you can encourage, but I understand all the priorities that he has tugging at him, but I think that that is what it is going to take."
As the march reached the White House and a rally was held across the street at Lafayette Square, Darfur activist and native Mohamed Yahya joined the protest.
"It is very unfortunate to see those tragedies going on in Darfur," he said. "Our people are brutalized and killed, and I lost 21 of my family members in one day."
Talks have been underway in Doha, Qatar between negotiators for the Sudanese government and various rebel groups, but so far there has been little visible progress to end the fighting.
These protesters vow to keep the issue in front of the American public until peace and justice prevail in Darfur.