News

Washington Rally for Peace in Sudan, South Sudan

Protestors call for Obama administration, U.N. to hold accountable President Omar al-Bashir

Kelly J. Kelly

If President Obama looked out his window last weekend, he would have seen more than two hundred people in the park outside the White House wearing tee shirts and carrying signs calling for peace in Sudan and South Sudan. He would have heard a little music, too, from performers as diverse as hip hop Sudanese singer Mista D, to the guitar strumming Rabbi Elhan “Sonny” Schnitzer of Bethesda, Maryland.

This is the third year people from churches, mosques, and synagogues around the world have gathered in Washington, DC to call attention to suffering in both Sudans and to pressure government leaders to do something about it.

Naimet Ahmadi, a member of the Fur tribe in Sudan and an activist for Darfuri women, said her goal for the rally was to bring the president of Sudan to justice.

“All of the people who are here tell their representatives, their governors, the Obama administration, and leaders of the United Nations, particularly those who are members of the UN Security Council, be serious about holding Omar al-Bashir accountable,” Ahmadi said.

The International Criminal Court has charged Omar al-Bashir with crimes against humanity.

But the rally was not just political. Reverend Vincent Allen from the Upper Room Baptist Church asked the participants to bow their heads in prayer. “As Christians, as Muslims, as Jews, or whatever persuasions of faith from which we come, we pray for the beginning of a new way of life, for freedom and peace,” he said.

Abdel Maliky, a Muslim from Benin, echoed the reverend’s emphasis on the importance of an interfaith response to the crisis in Sudans, especially since he believes the predominantly Muslim government of Sudan is using religion as a
wedge to create conflict with the predominantly Christian south.

“It’s not about religion,” Maliky said. “It’s people using religion to do what we’re doing to oppress people’s civil rights and oppress the right of the other people.”

Beverly Goines, an assistant pastor at National City Christian Church here in Washington, DC, came to the rally after her services ended. Still in her church dress, she walked back and forth in front of the White House with a sign that read,  “We’ll Never Forget.”

“The bottom line is that we’re all God’s creation. And that at least for me and my understanding, we are our brothers’ and our sisters’ keepers. And we have to speak up and stand for how we believe God would have us treat each other,” Goines said.

About fifty members of Congress recently signed a resolution calling for an end to human rights violations in Sudan. But it is unclear whether those intentions will be turned into action.

The most concrete accomplishment of the rally so far was to raise almost twenty thousand dollars to build a kitchen in a primary school in South Sudan’s Turalie, so students can have a meal prepared with supplies from the UN’s World Food Program. Yet even the rally organizers recognize that the people they want to help need far more.

Jen Marlowe, an author and human rights advocate, said, “As so many people from South Sudan told me over and over: Peace means development. Peace means the ability to send your  children to school, and to give them access to health care.”

Until those aims are accomplished, activists for both Sudans say they will continue to call attention to the conflict, by protesting, praying, and singing.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs