The Waiting Game

How much longer do the people of Darfur have to wait?

That’s what New York Post columnist Kirsten Powers wants to know.

Expressing her disappointment at US President Barack Obama’s failure to live up to campaign promises regarding Darfur, Powers questions why Obama has been so quick to fix the economy, healthcare, and financial regulations while stalling on the issue of genocide – abandoning what he claimed to be a “stain on all of our souls”.

Along with how much longer MUST Darfur wait, maybe we should ask how much longer CAN it wait?

Darfur Prisoners Tortured?

Rebel group JEM and Amnesty International are reporting that 82 Darfuri men sentenced to death by the Sudanese government are being subjected to “horrific treatment” – including inhumane conditions and torture.

Up to eight detainees are kept in cells of 2 by 1.5 meters wide, each originally designed for one prisoner. The cells are badly ventilated and detainees have to take turns to sleep. Detainees are prevented toilet facilities between 4pm to dawn and are fed foul food and dirty water. This has resulted in horrendous health problems including numerous cases of kidney infections.

Furthermore, many feel that the death sentences of the men are the result of unfair trials, inadequate legal counsel, and torture as a means of deriving confessions. Confessions under torture are admissible under Sudanese law.

JEM and Amnesty International are urging Sudanese and international authorities to investigate the allegations of inhumanity against the Darfuri prisoners.

On another note, Darfur was included as an “international hot spot” on CNN’s National Report Card for US President Obama’s first 100 days in office.

A Report Card for Obama

US President Barack Obama will hit his 100th day in office this Wednesday, April 29th.

CNN is planning to measure Obama’s first 100 days – through a National Report Card.

Let’s make sure that, along with the economy and other domestic issues, Darfur is included on the Report Card.

Contact CNN through Twitter, Facebook, or their online contact page and let them know that evaluating the President’s handling of the Darfur genocide and its recent twists and turns is important.

Also, on Monday, actress Mia Farrow will begin Darfur Fast for Life – an extended hunger strike in “solidarity with the hungry and starving in Darfur and for lasting peace in Sudan”. Others will also be joining in – either by consuming only water and/or refugee rations for 21 days.

“Obama, Save Us From Imminent Death”

Photograph by Stop Genocide Now

Photograph by Stop Genocide Now

A prominent leader representing Darfur’s IDPs and refugees has written a letter to US President Barack Obama – informing him of the deteriorating conditions in camps and demanding that he take action to prevent the “imminent death” of many.

Click here to read the letter for yourself.

US Envoy Heads to Sudan

Today, newly-appointed US special envoy to Sudan Scott Gration met with US President Barack Obama. Tomorrow, he will depart for Africa.

Gration is expected to visit Darfur, Khartoum, and South Sudan.

President Obama on Gration and his trip –

I am sending him off with my full confidence. He will be speaking for the administration, and he will be coming back to report to me very shortly about what he’s found there and additional steps that we can take to deal with this situation.

President Obama on the US and Darfur –

I actually think that America can speak effectively with one voice and bring the moral and other elements of our stature to bear in trying to deal with this situation.

Envoy Officially Appointed

It’s official –

Today, retired Air Force General Scott Gration was named US special envoy to Sudan.

In a statement announcing the appointment, US President Barack Obama had this to say –

Sudan is a priority for this administration…Sudan cries out for peace and for justice…the worsening humanitarian crisis there makes our task all the more urgent.

US to Appoint Special Envoy

While no formal announcement has been made, several media outlets are reporting that US President Barack Obama will appoint retired Air Force General Scott Gration as his special envoy to Sudan. Such a formal announcement may come as early as tomorrow.

Gration has an interesting history – raised in the Congo, served as a fighter pilot, won a Purple Heart. He also traveled to Africa with Obama in 2006 and referred to the president as a “leader committed to end that genocide (Darfur)”.

Also Tuesday, the US State Department delivered harsh words to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and the “catastrophe” he has created by kicking aid organizations out of the country.

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton appeared ready to take Bashir head-on –

They will be held responsible for every single death that occurs in those camps because by their expulsion of the aid workers, they are putting those 1.4 million lives at risk.

Thank you to those who urged the White House to wake up to the Darfur crisis and appoint a special envoy to Sudan.