Was appreciative this morning to be able to eat some rice and have a cup of coffee. Going without food yesterday was hard. My legs were shaky by the end of the day. My thoughts are with Mia, who is finishing day 3 and with Gretchen Steidle-Wallace, who started a full fast with us a few days ago. I’m also thinking of Shannon, who eliminated her refugee rations today in solidarity with Mia and Gretchen and the dozens of others who are fasting in solidarity with Darfuris.
Today I received several e-mails from folks telling me that fasting is not the way to advance change, and that they were worried about me. I replied with as much grace as I could. But I also reiterated the firmness of my convictions in carrying out this fast now and why I am so committed to it. I am under no illusions as to the realities of my life. At the first signs of health problems, I have access to a physicians. I can get someone to be with the kids while I rest. And I can simply eat something out of my pantry if it comes to that. Millions of people do not have this safety net. Hundreds of millions are hungry every day with inadequate nutrition and access to healthcare.
I have heard Gabriel and KTJ tell stories of their recent visits to Chad, where children they met in camps were smaller and thinner than the year before. My own children are taller, and weigh at least as much, than a year ago. We must value the health and safety of every child on the planet, not simply our own. As I think about this, I wonder what would it take to reach the tipping point for action on Darfur? How many men, women, and children must die? What horrific act would force the Obama Administration, the United Nations Security Council, and other global leaders to stop the murderous actions of the few who hold power in Sudan? At what point will the international community come to understand the falseness of using sovereignty as an excuse for abuse and murder of innocent civilians? What would it take in Sudan — and other countries that so badly need justice, including Burma (Myanmar), Sri Lanka, the DRC, and others?
While I fast, I am also trying to push for action towards real peace and justice in Sudan. What do the words real peace and justice mean? In short, the international community must hold the government in Khartoum accountable for its commitments and agreements, including the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the various Darfur agreements (including past agreements with the U.N. to facilitate humanitarian access in Darfur), and the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement. The latest agreement on restoring humanitarian access in Darfur needs to be more broadly understood, monitored closely, and respected in its entirety in order to avoid the humanitarian catastrophe we all fear is immanent.
Perhaps most importantly, the United States must shed the failed policies of the status quo and begin anew in leading a coordinated and comprehensive international effort to build a roadmap for sustainable peace in Sudan. This process must include Sudan’s key economic and political partners, including China, Russia, and Egypt. The U.N. Security Council, meanwhile, must strengthen the Sudan sanctions committee, focus on better enforcement of the arms embargo, and begin to hold accountable those responsible for violating the sanctions regime. Until the international community shows better coordination on Sudan policy, progress is unlikely to be made.