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Sweet column: At Save Darfur rally---Elie Wiesel, Dick Gregory, Obama, Clooney. UPDATE Chicago Darfur rally today at 4:30 p.m.

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D.C. rally condemns Darfur genocide....and a Darfur rally in Chicago at the Federal Plaza.....for details, go to end of post.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow, there are, have been and will be genocidal murders occurring in the Darfur region of Sudan. On Sunday, thousands gathered on the National Mall to try to do something about the horrors.

"We are here because we refuse to be silent," said Elie Wiesel, the author and Nobel Peace Prize winner whose work is rooted in his Holocaust experience.

"Remember, silence helps the killers, never the victims."

Thousands came together chanting "never again," the pledge born out of the Holocaust as the genocide, which started in 2003, continues. Clergy; lawmakers including Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), and celebrities, such as actor George Clooney, '60s-era comic and longtime activist Dick Gregory, and Olympic speed skater Joey Cheek, took the stage to keep the pressure on the United States and the international community.

Unlike some causes, where rallies are held for or against something, when it comes to the killings, rapes, starvations and forced migrations in Darfur, everyone in the United States is on the same side -- the right side.

165 groups band together

President Bush has done more than any other Western leader, though he said when he took office that slaughters such as those that took place in Rwanda and Burundi in the 1990s would not happen during his tenure. He penned the words "not on my watch" on a memo, and those words were transferred Sunday onto signs and T-shirts.

Bush was supportive of the Sunday rally and more to be held across the country, including one in Chicago at 4:30 p.m. today on Federal Plaza. Bush met with Darfur advocates in the White House on Friday and said the rallies are a "march for justice" that represents "the best of our country."

But three years after the conflict began, people are still dying as the violence between Muslims -- ethnic Africans under siege by Arab Janjaweed militias backed by the Sudanese government -- is responsible for the deaths of between 200,000 and 400,000 people, with another 2.5 million displaced.

Sunday's rally was organized by a coalition of 165 religious, human rights and humanitarian organizations, with the American Jewish community a driving force behind the "Save Darfur" effort. "When we needed people to help us," Wiesel said, "nobody came."

Armenia. The Holocaust. Cambodia. Rwanda. Bosnia. Darfur. Many students have been drawn to the Darfur cause because it is not history. It is a current event.

A contingent of 110 students came to Washington from the University of Illinois.

Abby Kritzler, 22, from Wilmette, a senior at American University in northwest Washington, was on the Mall. She is writing a thesis on genocide for her "faith, peace and justice" minor.

"It is just unacceptable for me to do nothing about it," Kritzler said. "I just could not tolerate sitting and watching everything and feeling bad about it and not doing anything."

'We want more; we want more'

Rabbi Amy L. Memis-Foler, from Temple Sholom at 3480 N. Lake Shore, flew from Chicago to Washington on Sunday morning to bear witness. She was carrying a poster board made by Temple Sholom sixth-graders that said "History repeats itself. Stop the Genocide."

"Our presence helps spread the word to the nation, to the world," Memis-Foler said.

Cheryl Gutmann, a Temple Sholom member on the Mall with Memis-Foler, said, "People are coming together to make a statement."

The House and Senate have passed the "Darfur Peace and Accountability Act," but the two chambers have yet to agree on final language. Obama, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been championing the measure. He will visit Sudan during an August trip to Africa.

Speaking before his largest crowd since becoming a senator, Obama said, "Silence, acquiescence, paralysis in the face of genocide is wrong."

Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Jendayi Frazer had the most difficult assignment -- speaking for the Bush administration to a crowd that wanted Bush to do more.

Bush has been working to bolster African Union forces and to get the United Nations to send in troops. "The strategy is working," said Frazer.

"We want more; we want more," the crowd chanted.

"So do I. So do I. So does your government," Frazer said. "The ghosts of Rwanda hang over our heads."
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Subj: Chicago's Darfur Rally TODAY!
Date: 5/1/06 11:17:55 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: (Jenina Nunez)

Media Advisory


Jenina Nuñez/Katheryn Hayes, MK Communications, (312) 822-0505

Joel Schatz, Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, (312) 444-2864

Citywide Rally Calls for Intervention to Stop Genocide in Darfur

Congressmen join over three dozen faith-based, civic and student

for the 4:30pm rally Monday, May 1st in Federal Plaza

WHAT: Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Congressman Danny Davis, a Human
Rights Watch expert, and a collection of civic, religious, and student
organizations, will be holding a rally to call for US response to the crisis
in Darfur, Sudan.

WHERE: Federal Plaza, Dearborn & Adams

WHEN: Monday, May 1, 2006 – 4:30 p.m.

Chicago, IL – The day after a major rally in Washington DC, a union of over
three dozen Chicago-area civic, faith, and student organizations, under the
banner of the Chicago Coalition to Save Darfur, will hold a rally Monday,
May 1st at 4:30pm in Federal Plaza to raise awareness of the ongoing
genocide in the Western region of Sudan, and to call for intervention in the

Congressman Danny Davis, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, a Human Rights Watch
expert and leaders of a variety of civic, religious and student
organizations will speak at the rally. The Muntu Drummers will perform.

The brutality in Darfur has taken the form of rapes, arsons, and vicious
attacks on innocent people. Since early 2003, over 400,000 people have died
as a result of the violence, while 220,000 Sudanese seek refuge in Eastern
Chad, and another 1.83 million have been internally displaced from their
homes. Recent news reports have indicated that the Sudanese refugees will
likely be forced out of Chad if the international community does not step

For organizations such as the Chicago Coalition to Save Darfur, one of many
national organizations committed to raising social awareness of the
genocide, the developments only reaffirm the need for quick, effective
intervention in Sudan.

“It is imperative that the international community react to the senseless
killings taking place in Darfur,��? said Congressman Danny Davis, who will be
speaking at the rally. “The loss of innocent lives must stop. When a tragedy
like this takes place, we must all express concern and support a peaceful


1 Comment

This is regarding the report on the "Starving, Dead Dogs at Firefighters House In Gary, In. I was just wondering as to what has been done to this evil person.
I'm sure he will get a reprieve because he works for
the fire department. Please send an update. Thank you if you have any concern. Mary Lu Koran

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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