01 Jul 2004 Black Activists Commend Secretary Powell, Bush Administration for Trying to Curb Ethnic Violence in Sudan
In the wake of Secretary of State Colin Powell’s historic visit to Sudan, members of the African-American leadership network Project 21 commend the Bush Administration for its efforts to prevent further violence in the African country that some call “ethnic cleansing.”
“I applaud President Bush and Secretary Powell for taking a leadership role in this attempt to end what I call pure ethnic cleansing in the Danfur region of Sudan,” said Project 21 member Kevin Martin. Martin joined other black activists in a human rights demonstration outside the Embassy of Sudan on July 1.
Paralyzed by decades of civil war, violence escalated in Sudan’s Danfur region in early 2003 when rebels attacked government facilities. After government bombing, government-backed Arab militias were introduced to the region and now stand accused of vicious atrocities against the ethnic African residents. Furthermore, restrictions on relief organizations are causing problems with the delivery of food and medicine to over 100 refugee camps. According to the Institute on Religion and Democracy, the overall conflict in Sudan has claimed more than two million lives, displaced more than four million from their homes and forced tens of thousands of women and children into slavery. In particular, Sudanese Christians are targeted. The Washington Post reported on June 30 that government-sponsored militias are raping African women in the Danfur region to create “lighter-skinned” – and from an Arab cultural perspective – Arab children.
Powell’s visit to Sudan, the first high-level visit in 25 years, is part of an effort by the Bush Administration to prod the Sudanese government to stop ethnic violence. U.S. officials are circulating a draft United Nations resolution demanding a halt to further militia activity, an end to Sudanese government and international support of the militias, sanctions on travel by militia leaders and a call for unrestricted access by relief organizations.
In October 2002, President Bush signed the Sudan Peace Act, giving him the authority to impose sanctions if it is determined the Sudanese government is acting in bad faith against its citizens. During his visit, Secretary Powell told Sudan President Omar Hassan Bashir that the Sudanese government had a responsibility to act against the violence and promote relief efforts.
Project 21 members are pleased the White House has taken the initiative try to end the persecution in Sudan. “The Bush Administration has taken an active role to include Africa at the world’s table,” said Martin. “The Clinton Administration, on the other hand, hesitated and ultimately failed to stop ethnic cleansing in Rwanda in 1994. The Bush Administration has supported efforts to bring an end to civil war, slavery, forced child labor and ethnic cleansing in Africa. They deserve our sincere thanks.”
Project 21 has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x106 or [email protected], or visit Project 21’s website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.