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International Global Day for Darfur Calls for End to Genocide


People in 30 countries around the world are marking what is being called the Global Day for Darfur. In Italy, refugees from Darfur joined others in a march calling for an end to the genocide and protesting the government of Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Sabina Castelfranco reports from Rome the Sudanese leader has just ended a controversial visit to Italy.

Wearing T-shirts that read "Stop the Blood in Darfur" and holding up banners calling for an end to genocide, dozens of refugees from Darfur marched through central Rome with human rights activists, journalists, and ordinary people supporting their cause.

The demonstration was held to mark the Global Day for Darfur. It followed a three-day visit to Rome by the Sudanese head of state, Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

While in Rome, President Bashir said he would declare a ceasefire to coincide with the start of peace talks in Libya on October 27. Organizers of the march said the Italian government, which received the Sudanese president, must do more to help the suffering people of Darfur.

The president of the Union of Young Jews of Italy, Daniele Nahum, said a concrete response is needed by Italy, a formal act. He said the Italian government must urge the United Nations to deploy an international force to end the genocide.

Nahum said it is shameful that the Italian government meets a dictator whose hands are dirty with blood. He said 250,000 have been killed, two million people displaced and the Italian government has not met a representation of refugees from Darfur that is in Rome.

Refugee Youssef Ishag said these demonstrations are needed to raise public awareness about the situation in Darfur because the Sudanese government does not allow journalists to see what is going on. Ishag who belongs to the Sudanese Liberation Movement says he does not believe the president's offer of a ceasefire.

"He is talking only," he said. "It is four years now when he said that he would start the ceasefire but they did not respect what he said. In the morning he do something and in the evening he do another thing. So he is here to ask to buy or to sell his petroleum, because like he said, that all the people would do like China."

Ishag added that although he took part in past negotiations, he and his movement would not be going to the Libya negotiations. He said he does not believe the government of Sudan and first wants to see the deployment of U.N. peacekeepers and security in Darfur.

"I cannot go there because we need first the protection of our people and the security in villages," said Ishag. "I want all the people going back to their villages and there is no genocide, there is no killing, there is no janjaweed and then I can go and negotiate with the government of Sudan."

Human-rights groups present at the demonstration said they do not agree with statements made by President Bashir in Rome that the situation in Darfur is improving. The spokesman of Amnesty International in Italy, Riccardo Noury, said there are satellite pictures that witness that villages continue to be destroyed in Darfur, and that Russia and China are responsible for heavy armaments that are still arriving to arm the conflict.

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