Thursday, November 01, 2007

Sudan Activist Conference Call: What You Can Do to Make a Difference in Darfur

When you hear about what is going in Darfur, do you feel like you want to do something, but you don't know what to do? I do. All the time.

In an effort to understand why the violence there is still happening, and what I can do to help, I've called in for two of the monthly conference calls for Sudan Activists produced by ENOUGH, the Genocide Intervention Network, STAND: A Student Anti-Genocide Coalition, and the Save Darfur Coalition. During the calls, speakers talk about what is going on in Sudan at the moment, and what actions people can take. You can find out when the next call is by signing up for alerts on the ENOUGH site.

I took notes on the call today to share with you, but I'm not much of a policy person, so forgive me if I simplify too much, and feel free to correct me if I make an error.

1. Roger Winter, a Sudan expert gave an update on the current situation in the Sudan, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and how the Darfur conflict is important in the larger context of Sudan.

Key Points:

  • The violence in Darfur is part of a history of violence in all of the Sudan.
  • Two million Sudanese civilians died in a 21-year civil war between the northern-based NCP and the southern-based Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).
  • In 2004 a permanent ceasefire agreement brought the North-South war to an end.
  • In 2005, both sides agreed to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)
  • Among the provisions of the CPA was that following a census, a midterm presidential and parliamentary elections would be held in 2009.
  • The solution to the violence in Darfur is to unseat the National Congress Party (NCP) though elections by the Sudanese people.
What You Can Do:
Advocate for a change in governance in the Sudan, and implementation of the CPA.
Pressure all political candidates (not just Presidential) with questions about what they are going to do about Darfur and the CPA.

2. Gayle Smith, the Co-Founder of ENOUGH talked about her trip with The Elders.

Smith went to Sudan this fall with The Elders, a group of leaders created by Nelson Mandela, Gra├ža Machel and Desmond Tutu. She found the situation in Darfur to be much, much worse than a year ago as people enter their 5th year in the camps. Young people are forming gangs, traditional structures are breaking down, and the attacks haven't stopped. Humanitarian workers have to be very careful about what they say, what they do, and how they do it. She agreed with Winter that it is important to talk about governance as the crisis, to protect the CPA and to enforce the importance of elections.

What You Can Do:
Talk about Sudan as much as Darfur; make the connection between the CPA and Darfur.
Advocate for the protection of the CPA; enforce the importance of elections.

3. Sam Bell, the Director of Advocacy for the Genocide Intervention Network talked about the difference between the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act (SADA) and the Darfur Accountability and Divestment Act (DADA), and where the legislation is now.
  • The House passed the Darfur Accountability and Divestment Act (DADA) in a 418-1 vote on July 31, 2007.
  • The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee passed the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act (SADA) by a vote of 21-0 on October 17, 2007.
  • SADA and DADA both include provisions that authorize state divestment, prohibit contracts with foreign companies fueling the genocide, and authorize asset managers to divest.
  • SADA does not require the Treasury Department to create a list of companies operating in Sudan like DADA does.
What You Can Do
Call your senators and ask them to support SADA (S.2771). Call 1-800-GENOCIDE, the Genocide Intervention Network's toll-free hotline, to be connected to the office of your Senator for free.

4. Micaela Hellman-Tincher, the Darfur Fast Coordinator for STAND talked about how to get involved in the December 5th Darfur Fast.

On December 5th, STAND, A Student Anti-Genocide Coalition will have its 4th annual Darfur Fast. Thousands of students and community members will give up one luxury item (i.e. latte, chocolate) for one day, and donate the money they would have spent to the Genocide Intervention Network's Civilian Protection program.

Women and children need protection from assault and rape when they go out to find firewood. GI-Net's Civilian Protection Program offers safer cooking options by providing alternative-fuel stoves, guarded firewood patrols, and income-generating projects for women, so that they can afford to buy firewood.

What You Can Do
Participate in the Darfur Fast on December 5. You can find more information about how to participate on your own, or how to organize an event at standnow.org/darfurfast

5. Adam Sterling, the Sudan Divestment Task Force's Co-Founder talked about the opening of the film Darfur Now

Darfur Now is a new film produced by Participant Productions that explores the conflict in Darfur through the eyes of six people, including Sterling. The movie opens Friday, November 2nd in LA and NYC , and in more cities in the following weeks. For more information go to participate.net/darfurnow or myspace.com/darfurnow. Discount tickets for groups are available on both sites.

6. Coby Rudolph, the Save Darfur Coalition's National Outreach Coordinator, gave an update on Appropriations and Darfur Funding.

Congress is negotiating spending for next year. Make sure that if spending bills are cut, it doesn't affect Darfur funding.

What You Can Do:
Tell your members of Congress to support adequate funding for peacekeeping in Darfur, including funding for humanitarian aid and restoration.

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Much of the information above is taken directly from the
ENOUGH, Genocide Intervention Network, STAND, and Save Darfur Coalition web sites. If you need more information, one or more of the sites will most likely be able to answer your questions.




3 comments:

  1. I can't thank you enough for this post, Britt! It has really helped me understand what's at stake in Darfur. I just wrote a post about your write-up. Thanks again! K.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You're welcome. It's something I feel really strongly about so it is the least I can do.

    Thanks for spreading the word with your post:
    http://sustenancescout.blogspot.com/
    2007/11/beyond-facts-darfur-sudan-and.
    html

    ReplyDelete
  3. And linking to your site (often, regarding Darfur and other critical issues) is the least I can do. K.

    ReplyDelete

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