Darfur Genocide Week to Sound Alarm in Nearly 50 States

WASHINGTON – Activists and concerned citizens will sound the alarm this week for the third Global Days for Darfur to alert Americans of the genocide in western Sudan and press President Bush, Congress and the international community to take stronger, immediate actions to end the violence.

Some 345 events in 250 cities and 45 states will take place Apr. 23-29 varying in size and focus. From New York's Wall Street to a small town high school, from Olympic speed skating gold medalist Joey Cheek to Darfuri refugees – many will join together this week to raise awareness, motivate American citizens and urge the U.S. government to take action.

The Darfur genocide has resulted in more than 200,000 people killed and 2.5 million civilians displaced since 2003. The Arab-dominated Khartoum government is accused of unleashing Arab nomads called janjaweed militias on the ethnically African Darfurians after rebels rose up against the central government.

In the past, Global Days for Darfur has attracted tens of thousands of supporters around the world. In September 2006, 57 events took place in 41 countries on six continents. The second annual event in December featured protests outside Sudanese embassies around the world to raise awareness to systematic sexual violence against the women of Darfur.

Ahead of Global Days for Darfur, President George W. Bush had delivered an unprecedented speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, where he gave clear measures on how the U.S. government would press Khartoum to accept the hybrid U.N.-A.U. peace keeping force in Darfur.

"It is evil we're now seeing in Sudan and we're not going to back down," Bush had declared last Wednesday, according to The Associated Press.

The United Nations and the world community has been wrestling with Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to allow U.N. troops into Darfur to support the under-funded and overstretched 7,000 African Union force in Darfur. Al-Bashir has continuously gone back on his word after agreeing to allow the U.N. force into Darfur to supplement the A.U. troops.

Bush's plan calls for tightening as well as imposing new economic sanctions on Sudan if it does not comply with its agreement to allow for a U.N.-A.U. force, stop supporting violent militias, and allow humanitarian aid to reach the people of Darfur, according to AP.

Economic sanctions include blocking any of the Sudan government's dollar transaction within the U.S. system; adding 29 companies owned or controlled by the Sudanese government to a list that would make it a crime for American companies and individuals to do business with them; and focusing sanctions on individuals responsible for violence.

However, some have criticized Bush for failing to announce a definitive deadline for the tough sanctions.

David C. Rubenstein, executive director of the Save Darfur Coalition, has said his organization was "disappointed" that President Bush had failed to announce an immediate imposition of the sanctions or a specific deadline for the sanctions.

"Diplomacy alone with President al-Bashir has failed, as the record of the last four years so well-described by the president in his speech makes unarguable," said Rubenstein, in a released statement. "Any further delay in the imposition of tough, coercive measures to give diplomacy any hope of success, and the people of Darfur any hope of a future, can have no justification."

During the weeklong events for Darfur, people will gather and rally in hope that the U.S. government will impose the sanction immediately.

The Global Days for Darfur is sponsored in part by the Save Darfur Coalition, an alliance of over 170 faith-based, advocacy and humanitarian organizations. The coalition's member organizations represent 130 million people with the common goal of helping the people of Darfur.

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