"When human lives are in jeopardy–there should be outrage." –New York Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) who was arrested during demonstration at Sudanese Embassy.
WASHINGTON–DC–Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) staff and activists joined with Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY) and leading African American and human rights activists at a demonstration on Tuesday outside the Sudanese Embassy calling for US and international pressure to end the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan.
The protest–organized by the Sudan Campaign–featured the arrest of Congressman Charlie Rangel–a senior New York legislator who serves as the Ranking Member on the influential US House Ways & Means Committee. He was arrested for trespassing by the police after stepping to the door of the Embassy. He was released within hours from a Washington–DC jail after paying bail of fifty dollars. Former member of Congress and current president of the National Council of Churches Robert Edgar–was arrested at the Sudanese Embassy–on Wednesday.
ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian–Government Affairs Director Abraham Niziblian and the ANCA "Leo Sarkisian" Internship program participants–led by Director Arsineh Khachikian–joined the noon-time protest which included some hundred and fifty activists and representatives from a diverse coalition of Sudan Campaign partner organizations including the Congressional Black Caucus–Center for Religious Freedom at Freedom House–Institute on Religion and Democracy–American Anti-slavery group–Wilberforce Project–and Christian Solidarity International–among others.
"We marched today–in the name of all Armenia’s–to do our part to help end the cycle of genocide," said Hamparian. "As the descendants of survivors of the Armenian Genocide–we bear a special burden to fight intolerance and to demand moral leadership–and decisive action–from our government to prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths in Darfur." Niziblian–in an interview with the Associated Press (AP)–was quoted as saying that–"A lot more people should be protesting and taking to the streets now."
The Sudan Campaign is led by Rev. Walter E. Fauntroy–co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus–and Joe Madison–a civil rights activist and radio personality in the Greater Washington–DC area. The group has been holding noon-time protests in front of the Sudanese Embassy for the past month–during which several leading human and civil rights activists have been arrested.
During his remarks–Madison announced that he is launching a hunger strike until the Sudanese government takes action to end the obstruction of humanitarian assistance from reaching hundreds of thousands in need in Darfur.
Over the past month–the ANCA has called attention to the atrocities in Sudan through a series of letters to Congressional offices–urging them to take a stand to stop the cycle of genocide through support of Congressional initiatives regarding Sudan as well as for the Genocide Resolution (H.Res.193–S.Res.164)–which reaffirms US commitment to the principles of the Genocide Convention. On June 23–Niziblian participated in a press conference organized by the Congressional Black Caucus and Africa Action. The ANCA has urged Armenian Americans to add their names to the Africa Action petition drive for Sudan–by visiting www.africaaction.org.
Some 30,000 have already perished over the past 18 months in Darfur–Sudan–with approximately one million forced to flee their homes. If the Sudanese government does not allow for the distribution of international humanitarian assistance–the death toll could rise to 350,000–according to conservative estimates.