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Rep. John Lewis Arrested in Protest Against Genocide in Sudan

May 15, 2006
Press Release

Congressman John Lewis joined other members of the Congressional Black Caucus to call for an end to the genocide in Darfur, Sudan responsible for the slaughter of thousands of innocent people, the raping of women and girls, the enslavement of 8000 Africans, and the displacement of millions of Sudanese citizens.

To date, an estimated 450,000 Darfurians have died since the beginning of the genocide in 2003, more than 2.5 million have been displaced from their homes and nearly 3.5 million people are currently in need of emergency humanitarian assistance as a result of the crisis orchestrated by the Government of Sudan and its allied Janjaweed militias.

Rep. Lewis joined CBC Chairman Melvin Watt (D-NC), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Al Green (D-TX) and D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton in front of the Embassy of the Sudan today in Washington in this non-violent protest. All 6 members were arrested by the Secret Service and taken to a D.C. jail. A veteran of the Civil Rights Movement, Congressman Lewis has been arrested over 40 times in peaceful, non-violent protests against injustice in America and around the world. He was also arrested at the South African Embassy in the 1980's in American protests against apartheid.

"`Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere'," said Congressman Lewis. "We were arrested today to demonstrate the need for our government to do more to end the raping and killing of innocent Sudanese citizens. The world cannot stand by silently and witness the mass murders of our fellow human beings. Yesterday it was Auschwitz, Rwanda, and Bosnia. Today it is Darfur. Tomorrow it will be somewhere else. As citizens of the most powerful nation on earth and as members of the world community, we must do all we can to put an end to all genocide, ethnic cleansing and government sponsored terrorism."

Recently, a peace agreement was reached in Abuja, Nigeria between the Government of Sudan and the Sudanese Liberation Movement (SLM). The CBC thinks that the agreement falls short of expectations to provide protection to civilians on the ground, more political representation for Darfur in the central government, and adequate mechanisms for ensuring disarmament of the Janjaweed. (more)

During the press conference, Chairman Watt and the CBC listed the following demands to stop the genocide in Darfur:

  • Cessation of Violence - The government of Sudan and its Janjaweed militias must immediately stop the violence against Darfurians;
  • UN Peacekeepers - A Chapter 7 UN peacekeeping mission to assist the African Union Mission;
  • Accountability - Accountability for government officials and Janjaweed responsible for genocide;
  • Emergency Food -President Bush must push the Government of Sudan to release its 300,000 - 500,000 metric tons of grain reserves to feed the starving people of Darfur;
  • Civilian Protection - Protection of civilians who remain vulnerable;
  • Refugee Return - The Administration must work to ensure the Government of Sudan does all it can for the internally displaced and the refugees of Darfur to restore security so they can return to their homes soon, and;
  • Full Implementation of Peace Agreements - Full implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the North and South.

A growing number of members of Congress are pushing for a measure passed in the House recently to be signed into law. House Resolution 3127 seeks to hold Sudanese government officials and Janjaweed commanders accountable for their involvement in the genocide.
The CBC was the first to highlight the crisis in Darfur and on June 24, 2004 introduced H. Con Res 467, declaring genocide in the region.