[Marxism] Contradictions in Darfur protest movement

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Apr 27 14:58:11 MDT 2006


Groups Plan Rally on Mall To Protest Darfur Violence
Bush Administration Is Urged to Intervene in Sudan

By Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 27, 2006; A21

An unusually broad coalition of 164 humanitarian and religious groups, 
including Amnesty International and the National Association of 
Evangelicals, is planning a huge rally Sunday on the Mall to call for 
intervention to end the violence in Sudan's Darfur region.

With the added draw of celebrity speakers such as actor George Clooney and 
Olympic speedskating gold medalist Joey Cheek, organizers expect tens of 
thousands of people to converge on the District.

Stop Genocide rallies also are planned in Chicago, San Francisco and 15 
other cities. An allied campaign, A Million Voices for Darfur, aims to 
deluge the White House with 1 million postcards. The goal is to push the 
Bush administration to support a multinational peacekeeping force for 
Darfur, where militias backed by Sudan's government have killed tens of 
thousands of civilians and driven 2.5 million from their homes since 2003.

Christian groups first took a strong interest in Sudan in the 1990s, 
stirred by reports that Arab raiders were enslaving Christians in the 
south. They helped prod the Bush administration to broker a peace treaty 
that formally halted the fighting in the south last year.

The crisis in Darfur, which began as the war in the south waned, has 
resonated even more widely. Muslims see brethren in need. Jews have 
responded to the cry of "never again." Beginning with interfaith rallies a 
year ago that drew fewer than 100 people to the Mall, the issue has united 
religious groups that seldom cooperate. It also has caught fire among high 
school and college students.

"What we do about Darfur says a lot about us and the conscience of our 
generation. We don't have that excuse anymore, saying we didn't know about 
it, there's nothing we can do," said Adam Zuckerman, 18, a senior at 
Deering High School in Portland, Maine. He raised $6,000 to bring a busload 
of Reform Jews and Sudanese immigrants from Maine to the rally.

Keeping the peace within the diverse Save Darfur Coalition has not been 
easy. Tensions have arisen, in particular, between evangelical Christians 
and immigrants from Darfur, whose population is almost entirely Muslim and 
deeply suspicious of missionary activity.

Organizers rushed this week to invite two Darfurians to address the rally 
after Sudanese immigrants objected that the original list of speakers 
included eight Western Christians, seven Jews, four politicians and 
assorted celebrities -- but no Muslims and no one from Darfur.

Some Darfur activists also have complained about the involvement in the 
rally of a Kansas-based evangelical group, Sudan Sunrise.

Last week, after an inquiry from The Washington Post, Sudan Sunrise changed 
its Web site to eliminate references to efforts to convert the people of 
Darfur. Previously, it said it was engaged in "one on one, lifestyle 
evangelism to Darfurian Muslims living in refugee camps in eastern Chad" 
and appealed for money to "bring the kingdom of God to an area of Sudan 
where the light of Jesus rarely shines."

Although it is not formally part of the Save Darfur Coalition, Sudan 
Sunrise helped arrange buses and speakers, and it is co-hosting a dinner 
for 600 people on the rally's eve. The group's executive director, the Rev. 
Tom Prichard, said the material on the Web site was written in error "by an 
employee who was not fully informed." He added: "We've been very, very 
careful not to do anything that's going to alienate the Muslims."

Sudan Sunrise and an allied group, the Sudan Council of Churches-USA, also 
have angered Darfurians by saying that the "victims in western Darfur are 
the people who persecuted the Christian southern Sudanese" during the civil 
war. Prichard, an Episcopal priest, said his group encourages Christians 
from southern Sudan to come to the aid of their "former persecutors."

Mohamed Ibrahim, co-chairman of the Darfur Alert Coalition, an umbrella for 
22 Sudanese and American organizations, is highly critical of that 
approach. Sudan Sunrise "says it is looking for reconciliation, and they 
are actually creating a conflict by spreading the false claim that the 
perpetrators of the violence in southern Sudan were from Darfur," he said.

Independent experts also said that although there were many conscripts from 
Darfur in the Sudanese army, the Sudanese government, which was not 
controlled by Darfurians, prosecuted the war.

Rally organizers said they cannot control the agendas of all the rally's 
participants.

"I have no idea who these Sunrise people are. They certainly aren't part of 
our coalition," said David Rubenstein, head of the Save Darfur Coalition. 
"With 164 groups, I barely have time to think about the horrible things 
they're all doing."

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