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Demonstrators Demand US Action on Darfur


About 100 demonstrators chanted "Stop genocide in Darfur" and "Justice, justice for Darfur" outside the White House in Washington, D.C., April 16, 2016. (N. Taha/VOA)

About 100 demonstrators chanted "Stop genocide in Darfur" and "Justice, justice for Darfur" outside the White House in Washington, D.C., April 16, 2016. (N. Taha/VOA)

Demonstrators held a two-day rally and 24-hour hunger strike outside the White House this week to protest what they consider a lack of U.S. action to stop genocide in Sudan's Darfur region.

The protest was part of a Global Week of Action against genocide in Darfur, an event that continues through April 25.

About 100 demonstrators chanted "Stop genocide in Darfur" and "Justice, justice for Darfur" outside the White House on April 16, the first day of the protest.

Niemat Ahmadi, founder of the Darfur Women's Action Group, told VOA's South Sudan in Focus that she organized the hunger strike and protest because people are dying and the White House is doing nothing about it.

Protesters held a two-day rally and 24-hour hunger strike outside the White House to protest genocide in Sudan's Darfur region, April 16, 2016. (N. Taha/VOA)

Protesters held a two-day rally and 24-hour hunger strike outside the White House to protest genocide in Sudan's Darfur region, April 16, 2016. (N. Taha/VOA)

"We demanded the Obama administration speak up and send special forces to Darfur to assist the situation,” Ahmadi said. “The people are dying because of the government of Sudan, and that's why we want the world leaders, particularly the U.S. government, to speak up against the recent attacks in Darfur and hold the government of Sudan accountable."

Fighting between the government and Darfurian rebel groups that began in 2003 recently surged again, mainly in the Jebel Marra area.

Sudanese government forces and allied Darfur militia, known as the Janjaweed, have long been accused burning villages, looting cattle and property, polluting water sources, and murdering and torturing civilians, as well as raping women and girls as a weapon of war.

The International Criminal Court in the Hague has charged Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir with war crimes and genocide, but he has denied the charges and avoided arrest.

U.S. reaction

The U.S. State Department told VOA Wednesday that the United States has engaged many times with the Darfur Women's Action Group. It said the primary objective of U.S. policy in Darfur is to promote sustainable peace and stability.

Demonstrations — including this march outside the White House on April 16, 2016 — were held because people in Darfur are dying and the Obama administration is doing nothing about it, said the organizer of the protest. (N. Taha/VOA)

Demonstrations — including this march outside the White House on April 16, 2016 — were held because people in Darfur are dying and the Obama administration is doing nothing about it, said the organizer of the protest. (N. Taha/VOA)

Ahmadi believes U.S. President Barack Obama must do more to help the people of Darfur.

"Obama has the opportunity to do something about Darfur people and people of Sudan,” she said. “And this the first the black president; [it's] very unfortunate that he can overlook the suffering of blacks in Sudan."

As part of the protests, Ahmadi said members of the Darfurian diaspora in the United States are working with partners in Europe, Australia and elsewhere to draw people's attention to the atrocities in Darfur.

Organizers have met this week with various U.S. lawmakers and are holding workshops in Washington to educate lawmakers, academics and others about the genocide that has occurred in Darfur.

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