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Violence, Death Stalk Women in Darfur

In Darfur, violence and death continue to be the norm. And that was the reason for a recent demonstration at the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, one of more than 40 events held around the world to observe what was called “A Global Day of Action for Darfur.” The protest was designed to “raise the alarm” about genocide.

The feature series this week on Africa News Tonight is on the protest theme – violence against women and girls in Darfur.

This demonstration sounded much like one held at the same embassy on the same topic more than two years ago. At the one in 2004, the president of TransAfrica Forum, Bill Fletcher Junior said,“Today we want to make a difference, we want to make a statement. And part of that statement is not just that we abhor the tragedy, the horror that is going on in the Sudan…but that this must stop!”

The recent demonstration was sponsored by the “Save Darfur Coalition,” which represents some 170 civic, faith-based and humanitarian organizations. It was formed in 2004 to call for the protection of the people of Darfur. Colleen Connors represents the coalition and was at this year’s demonstration. She said, "Unfortunately the situation is worse today than it was two years ago. More than 400 thousand people have been killed since the beginning in 2003 of the violence in Darfur, and while the world has very strong words and is calling for action, action has not happened yet."

Fatima Haroun is a Darfurian now living in the eastern United States. She spoke at the rally and said women victims are sometimes very young: 'Women and children as young as eight, nine, 13, are being targeted on a daily basis, multiple assaults, multiple injuries; it’s too much. Enough is enough and I will say stop it now."

Another speaker spoke of the loss of his family in Darfur: “Ladies and gentlemen, I am Mohammed Adameer here, a refugee from Darfur, and I lost 21 of my family members, along with my close relatives, two of my sisters raped, two of my brothers killed, two of my grandparents burned alive in their hut because they are not able to flee!”

Another refugee from Darfur says she considers the Sudanese government no longer credible for Darfurians: “Me personally, I lost 40 people from my family since this war happened…it’s so frustrating for us as Darfurians. We are so sad. Therefore we’re not going to consider this government as our government, we’re not going to consider Basheer as our president anymore."

A number of prominent people spoke at the event, representing various groups and organizations. They expressed concern for the welfare of Darfurians. Coming up in the series, some of their comments on the crisis, and on how they think the crisis should be handled. Next in the series, a student activist group called “STAND” which is an anti-genocide coalition advocating for Darfur. This,as we continue our focus this week on the tragedy in the Darfur region of Sudan.