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2006-05-01

Thousands of Protesters Demand End to Darfur Genocide in Largest Public U.S. Outcry Since Conflict Began

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Tens of thousands of protesters from across the country rallied in Washington DC Sunday to demand an end to the genocide in Darfur. The rally was one of several that took place in at least 17 other cities, marking the largest public outcry in the US since the conflict erupted in Western Sudan three years ago. We hear speakers at the rally, including actor George Clooney and Rwanda genocide survivor Paul Rusesabagina. [includes rush transcript]

Tens of thousands of protesters from across the country rallied in Washington DC Sunday to demand an end to the genocide in Darfur. The rally was one of several that took place in at least 17 other cities, marking the largest public outcry in the US since the conflict erupted in Western Sudan three years ago.

At least 180,000 people have died in the region and as many as three million people have been left homeless. The United Nations has labeled the conflict one of the "worst humanitarian crises in the world." Congress and President Bush have declared the Darfur killings to be genocide

The Washington rally came as peace talks between the rebels and the Khartoum government faltered in Nigeria. Rebel groups rejected a peace agreement that the Sudan government had said it would support. A spokesman for the rebels said the deal did not give enough autonomy to Darfur. The African Union said last night the talks would continue for another 48 hours.

Demonstrators packed the National Mall Sunday chanting "enough is enough" and called on the Bush administration to take stronger measures to help civilians against attacks by government-backed Arab militias in Darfur.

Academy award-winning actor George Clooney–who has just returned from a trip to Darfur–was among those who addressed the crowd.

  • George Clooney, speaking in Washington DC, April 30, 2006.

The speakers at the rally included survivors of the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide and the conflict in Bosnia, many of whom drew parallels to Darfur. Paul Rusesabagina, the Rwandan hotel manager who is credited with saving 1,200 Rwandans from slaughter, also spoke. Rusesabagina is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom whose story is depicted in the film Hotel Rwanda.

  • Paul Rusesabagina, speaking in Washington DC, April 30, 2006.

Many Sudanese refugees from Darfur traveled to Washington DC from across the country to attend the demonstration. Darfur genocide survivor Bashir Abdul Rosso praised the turnout of the rally.

  • Bashir Abdul Rosso, speaking in Washington DC, April 30, 2006.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Academy Award-winning actor George Clooney, who has just returned from a trip to Darfur, was among those who addressed the crowd.

GEORGE CLOONEY: You make the policy. All of you here — you — all of you here decide what is right and what is wrong. We’re at the doorstep of something we thought was impossible to dream of in the 21st century. If we turn our heads and look away and hope that it all will disappear, then they will, all of them, an entire generation of people. And we will have only history left to judge us.

AMY GOODMAN: Actor George Clooney speaking Sunday in Washington, D.C. The speakers at the rally included survivors of the genocide, the Rwandan genocide, of the Holocaust, the conflict in Bosnia, many of whom drew parallels to Darfur. Paul Rusesabagina, the Rwandan hotel manager who is credited with saving 1,200 Rwandans from slaughter, also spoke. He’s a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His story is depicted in the film Hotel Rwanda.

PAUL RUSESABAGINA: More than 12 years ago in Rwanda, a militia was slaughtering innocent civilians on the hills, in the cities and towns. Today, last year I went to Darfur. What I saw in Darfur is exactly what was going on in Rwanda during that time. More than two million people displaced without food, without shelter, without water, without education, which is the basic need for our future generations without any other hope. Ladies and gentlemen, what I saw in Darfur is a disaster and a shame to mankind. The international community, as Rwanda has been abandoned, Darfur is also abandoned.

AMY GOODMAN: Paul Rusesabagina of Hotel Rwanda. Many Sudanese refugees from Darfur traveled to Washington, D.C. from across the country to attend the demonstration. Darfur genocide survivor Bashir Abdul Rosso was among those who addressed the crowd.

BASHIR ABDUL ROSSO: What this rally will do will tell the nation that there are good people who are worried about what’s going on in Darfur, the genocide. There’s an actual genocide. We need to tell them all this what it is, they’re telling about a genocide, what the government is denying. And this will make these people understand that there is a genocide, because a lot of — most of the world, even the Americans, they don’t know what’s going on. This is telling the people to know that there are people dying every day, innocent people, for nothing.

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