400,000 murdered, three million refugees and rising.
Call for UK, EU & UN action to stop the genocide.
London – 2 May 2005
Photos: Guy Smallman 07956 429 059 and Andrew Wiard 07973 219 201
More than 250 exiles from Darfur and other regions of Sudan blockaded the gates of the Prime Minister’s residence in Downing Street, London, at 12 noon today (Monday 2 May 2005), causing traffic diversions in Whitehall.
They staged a “die-in” on the roadway to symbolise the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan, and to demand “UK and EU action to halt the mass slaughter and starvation.”
Displaying placards with the words “Stop the genocide in Darfur”, “Sanctions against Sudan’s killer leaders” and “Peace keepers into Darfur”, the protesters called on Prime Minister Tony Blair to “get tough with the Sudan regime and initiate EU and UN action to protect the civilian population.”
They chanted: “1-2-3-4, Tony Blair must do more.”
The Darfur protesters included Arabs and Africans, Muslims and Christians, northerners and southerners. All were united in calling for “international action to halt the massacres in Darfur.”
“The number one priority is getting EU and UN peace keepers into Darfur to end the killing and provide security, so people are able to leave the refugee camps, return to their villages and rebuild their lives,” said protest speaker, Abdellatife Ismail, Director of the Darfur Centre for Human Rights and Development.
“To stop the Sudanese bombing of our villages, we want the international community to enforce a no-fly-zone over Darfur,” said Abdul-Bagi Elawad, the exiled former secretary of the Sudan Communist Party in Darfur, who joined today’s protest.
“The Sudanese government and militia leaders must be put on trial. Until they are arrested, the genocide will continue.
“We seek a comprehensive peace agreement involving all Sudanese political parties, a new democratic and secular constitution, the redistribution of wealth, and power-sharing through a federal system of government,” added Mr Elawad.
“We call on the UK government to press the EU and UN to initiate an immediate four-point action plan to stop the slaughter and starvation,” said one of the protest organisers, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, of the Darfur Solidarity Campaign:
. “Enforce a no-fly zone over Darfur to halt the Sudanese bombing of African villages
. “Send into Darfur a 15,000-strong UN peace-keeping force to protect the civilian population and aid workers, keep the warring factions apart, and disarm the militias
. “Provide food, clothing, shelter and medical care to the victims of the conflict, and provide the refugees with assistance to leave the camps, return to their homes and rebuild their lives and communities
. “Impose sanctions against the Sudanese government leaders and the leaders of the Janjaweed militia, including an arms embargo and arraignment before the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes, torture and crimes against humanity,” said Mr Tatchell.
The “die-in” was organised by Waging Peace and the Darfur Solidarity Campaign, and was supported by The Voice, BLINK, the 1990 Trust and the 100 Black Men movement.
“In Darfur there is a 9/11 every week. The government of Sudan and its Janjaweed proxies continue their rampage of rape, slaughter and mutilation, with the number killed estimated at 400,000 and those displaced expected to rise to four million, according to new research by Toronto University,” said protest leader Tess Finch-Lees.
“The British government and the EU refuse to do anything serious to halt the killing. It is time they stood up to the butchers in Khartoum,” she added.
Her sentiments were echoed by Peter Tatchell:
“The UN report on Darfur earlier this year was all words and no action. It was a cruel betrayal of black Africans who are being slaughtered by Arab Islamists. They are massacring black Africans in a deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing. These killings are racially motivated and the UN’s failure to condemn them as genocide is a shameless appeasement of the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed militia,” he said.
“The best hope for Darfur is ending the Islamist military regime in Khartoum. Without a government committed to democracy and human rights, there can be no freedom and social justice for the people of Sudan and Darfur. All Sudanese – Arabs and Africans, northerners and southerners – have a common interest in overthrowing the Islamist military dictatorship.
“Prime Minister Tony Blair’s commitment to Africa is meaningless while his government takes no serious action to stop the genocide in Darfur.
“The Darfur crisis is a litmus test of Britain’s commitment to enforce international humanitarian law and to challenge murderous, tyrannical regimes.
“Darfur is a needless, preventable humanitarian tragedy, caused by the complacency and inaction of the UK government, the African Union, the United Nations, and the European Union. The international community has Darfur’s blood on its hands,” said Mr Tatchell.
For more information:
Abdellatife Ismail, Director of the Darfur Centre for Human Rights and Development: 07786 984 832
Abdul-Bagi Elawad, exiled former secretary of the Sudan Communist Party in Darfur: 079 49 02 6854.
Tess Finch-Lees, protest organiser: 01844 202 288, mobile: 07815 298 124