Letters for Darfur

OSMOSIS is gearing up for their second iniative — a letter writing campaign to encourage Congress to enact H Res 723. Like the petition I wrote about last week, you can find more information about H Res 723 at the Genocide Intervention Network.

Amy provided contact information if you’re interested in picking up a letter at her shop. If you’re not local, and you want to write a letter, I’ve got three different copies that you can grab:

A Word document that you can customize.
One version of a fill-in-the-blank pdf.
A second version of a fill-in-the-blank pdf.

If you’re not sure who your Representative is, you can find out by visiting the House of Representative’s website.

Darfur Petition

OSMOSIS has just put out the call for a petition drive for anyone who’s interested in encouraging Congress to enact H Res 723. As I wrote last week, Genocide Intervention Network has an alert posted outlining the current situation and providing links to the bill.

Amy provides contact information on her site if you’re in the area. If you’re not local, and you want to start this petition in your city, all you have to do is:

grab a copy of the petition
collect signatures
send the petition to your Representative

How easy is that? If you’re not sure who your Representative is, you can find out by visiting the House of Representative’s website.

Unlike other petitions that focus on self-crafted “calls to action,” this petition is merely showing your support for an existing bill. This will be followed shortly with a letter writing campaign.

Bush meets with Minnawi

The White House announced today that President Bush would meet with Minni Minnawi on Tuesday. The talks will reportedly center on how to get broader support for the Darfur Peace Agreement.

Earlier this month, the Sudanese Liberation Army, the only rebel group that signed the peace agreement on May 5, nominated Minnawi to the post of senior assistant to Sudan’s president. This would make him the head of what will be the Darfur Authority, the administration that will run Darfur as an autonomous part of Sudan once the terms of the peace accord have been implemented.

Many of the refugees in Darfur and Chad’s huge camps have rejected the peace agreement because they see no sign that the government will follow through on its pledge to disarm the government-backed militia responsible for most of the attacks.

Prendergast on Darfur

Last week, Jerry Fowler (of the Committee on Conscience) talked with John Prendergast of the International Crisis Group as part of the Committee’s biweekly podcast. Prendergast has just recently returned from Chad, and had new information on what’s happening in the region:

We went into Eastern Chad and we crossed the border into rebel held areas of Darfur as well and both sides of the border, there is clearly an increasing tension as a result of cross border attacks by government of Sudan backed Janjaweed militias and government of Sudan backed Chadian rebels who are attacking across the border with the same kind of impunity, and in some cases the same kind of intention they did when attacking inside Darfur. We are seeing a sort of exporting some of the genocidal counterinsurgency strategies into Chad now, and that was one of the dominant themes. The other dominant theme was how uniformly the refugees and displaced people that we came across were unable to support the current peace agreement that has been signed between the government and one of the rebel factions in Darfur. There is an intense, palpable fear on the part of those who have been rendered homeless by this assault over the last three years, fear of the provision in the agreement that would leave the disarmament of the Janjaweed in the hands of the government of Sudan with no real international verification. In the absence of that, most people would have just said, “We cannot support this, and we have to keep the struggle alive until we get this fundamentally important provision into any kind of a text of an agreement.” It was quite eye opening to see, and people were not brain washed; they knew what was in the agreement and they just chose to say, “We do not want an incomplete peace because it will not bring peace,” and that was fairly uniform up and down the border, all over.

You can listen to the podcast in its entirety or find a complete transcript of the interview at Voices of Genocide Prevention.

HR 723

At the end of September, the African Union will withdraw its troops from the Darfur region of the Sudan. The UN has no plans to send troops into the region until January of 2007, and the US has yet to promise any involvment in the ongoing genocide.

Congress crafted a resolution to urge the President to send peacekeeping troops to the region — entitled HR 723, which has yet to make it to a vote. If you’re interested in showing your support for this bill, write your Congressman and urge him to co-sponsor the bill.

For more info — see the Genocide Intervention Network.

Sudan continues civilian attacks

Even as relief organizations attempt to aid refugees in the devastated Darfur region, a recent report claims that the Sudan Liberation Army has fractured and the government is again supporting attacks. Minni Arcua Minnawi, leader of the SLA and signer of a May cease-fire agreement, has come into conflict with these new SLA groups, and has allegedly carried out attacks on at least two of them.

The Sudanese government is using white helicopters, the kind used by African Union and UN peacekeepers, to aid in the attacks against the splinter groups. This infighting has led to the murder, rape, and displacement of some 8,000 civilians, and reports continue to stream out that aid workers are being attacked “on an almost daily basis.”

ICC investigates Darfur

Even though the US has long labeled the crisis in Darfur as genocide, the UN has been keeping the entire conflict at arms length. However, for the first time during the African country’s troubles, the United Nations Security Council has taken an unprecedented step forward and asked the International Criminal Court to investigate allegations of war crimes in Sudan.

The Sudanese Minister of Justice, Mohammed al-Mardi, took a firm stance on what he fears might unfold in his nation:

“If they are here to discuss the progress of trials or the role of national justice then we are ready to give them whatever information they are looking for. But if the matter is about investigations, then they….don’t have the jurisdiction.”

This is at least partially correct, as the ICC doesn’t have the authority to try people who have been properly processed in a national court. Human Rights Watch maintains that the Sudanese government established its own court to handle the Darfur crisis, but has only tried 13 minor cases to date.