May 19, 2009
Once again,the Congressional Black Caucus led by Congressman Donald Payne STEPPED UP !!!
Several members of the CBC spoke, some had even traveled to Darfur. Some had been arrested last month -protesting outside the Sudanese Embassy.
The sun was shining and the sky was clear blue. The press conference was held on the steps of the Cannon Terrace Hill-on Independence Avenue- with the Capitol buildings behind us. Congressman Payne-who has long participated in non-violent protests, has been honorably arrested three times. He read out the names of those who will fast in solidarity with the people of Darfur and as a symbol of their commitment to end the suffering and slaughter of innocents. I had the great privilege of standing with the Caucus which included John Lewis, my long-time hero !!
Darfuris, Omer Ismael and Mohammed Yahya spoke wonderfully and movingly about Darfuri’s need for justice. We did not bring them peace, protection or an end to their misery -but we did support justice through the ICC. Both men said they represent Darfuris in the millions who would rather die than forfeit justice.
That my (very personal) decision to fast has led to such a moment in DC is more meaningful than I can say.
Earlier I met with Senator Harry Reid. He promised to bring up Darfur in the Senate. He wanted to know what could be DONE. The vagaries of “more” and “priority” really don’t fly. So I said, ‘ China’ and our need to support the ICC-( this is the time for a change ) He took notes. His chief of staff seemed very on-board!
US Envoy to Sudan, Scott Gration is leaving for Beijing tomorrow. He should bring the message that China has a constructive role to play- not only in getting the aid agencies back into Darfur with unrestricted access to populations, but in the vigorous pursuit of a legitimate and comprehensive peace process; also in reconsidering China’s arms sales to Khartoum. The US gov holds key cards but China has the full deck.
Darfur remains a stain on Beijing’s reputation as a preeminent emerging power. They should use their considerable influence to bring about an end to the anguish that currently defines Darfur– and by extension, them.
Since my first visit to Darfur in 2004, countless people have told me their stories of terror and pain and loss. They hoped I would return to my country and tell ‘the world’ what they have endured and what they are facing still. And they always express the hope that if the world only knew what is happening in Darfur, surely someday, someone will care enough to save them.
Over and over again I have promised them I would do my utmost to tell ‘the world’ what is happening in Darfur. And I have tried. Every day I try- but their suffering continues. Rations of hope are now more meager in Darfur than rations of food.
But today, on the steps of one of our nations greatest buildings, in the company of some of our most powerful and respected leaders, Darfuri voices were heard.
I am at the airport heading home. I will sleep soundly tonight. Tomorrow we must try harder.
– Mia Farrow