This feature series on Africa News Tonight is on the continuing humanitarian crisis in Darfur.
At a recent rally at the Sudanese embassy in Washington, protesters heard from Darfur’s refugees, then listened to a student activist group fighting genocide in Darfur. After that came music written to highlight the plight of Darfurians. This story is about a social activist's rallying cries at the demonstration, saying protests must continue as long as the genocide continues.
Jeffrey Johnson is a minister at the Empowerment Temple A-M-E Church in Baltimore, Maryland. He’s also a public speaker and does frequent interviews in the news media, on issues from violence to voting.
Johnson spoke of the Sudanese government’s statement that the genocide is media-fabricated. He said, “How dare the Sudanese government imply that the genocide is constructed by the western media, that only 9,000 people have died. The problem with that notion is that nine thousand would be too many. Nine thousand humans losing their lives in a conflict where people are being used and destroyed meaninglessly is too many, let alone almost half a million.”
The activist minister said those concerned about Darfur must do more than “stand idly by” saying “We’ve got to be outraged. We’ve got to be upset enough to have sleepless nights, upset enough to talk to our neighbors that don’t want to hear about Darfur again from us, upset enough to knock on the doors of those that would turn a blind eye and a deaf ear, upset enough to engage not only President Bush and Kofi Annan, but every single world leader that finds it acceptable to deal with a country that would use women in a way that is inhumane.”
Johnson said the situation also affects him on a very personal level, saying: “I have a seven-year-old daughter, and when I watch her sleep at night, it pains me to think that there are places in the world where she would be brutalized, not because she’d done anything wrong, but because she existed in a place that would use her as an intimidating factor against those that they wish to control.”
Johnson asked all those at the demonstration to continue the effort to turn the tide of genocide in Darfur. The church leader said if those in attendance don’t stay the course and ring the alarm so all will hear, loudly and clearly, then the people of Darfur will continue to suffer and die.