Congressman Arrested Protesting Sudan Regime’s Actions in Darfur, Germany
July 14 2004

Congressman Arrested Protesting Sudan Regime’s Actions in Darfur

Jul 14, 2004 Washington
Representative Charles Rangel (Democrat of New York) was arrested
Tuesday as he blocked the entrance to the Sudanese Embassy to protest
the Khartoum government’s support for militia groups that have killed
between 15,000 and 30,000 people in Sudan’s Darfur region while
making a mockery of international efforts to stop what the lawmaker
termed “genocide.”

Standing with crossed arms in front of the embassy’s door on
Washington’s Massachusetts Avenue at high noon, Rangel and a band of
about 50 protesters sang the defiant civil rights anthem “We Shall
Overcome,” evoking similar protests against racism in America during
the 1960s and against apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s.

The protesters, joined by Armenian-Americans who claim their people
suffered a similar genocide under the Turks last century, also
unfurled a large banner that proclaimed: “Slavery & Genocide = Sudan”
while they chanted: “Stop the Genocide. Free Darfur Now” and “Every
Life Is Precious. Stop the Genocide in Sudan.”

Rangel told the crowd: “I am protesting today to urge the United
States government and the United Nations to take immediate action to
stop the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan.”

Showing impatience at recent efforts by the United Nations and a
“troika” of nations including the United States, the United Kingdom
and Russia to rein in the Khartoum regime’s support for the Jingaweit
militias, Rangel said, “While I applaud Secretary [of State Colin]
Powell for his efforts, I am worried that our government is not
constructively engaging a government who has, by almost all accounts,
been the primary sponsor of genocide in Sudan.”

According to the influential lawmaker: “The situation in Sudan has
clearly reached the level of a genocide. U.S. Agency for
International Development Administrator Andrew Natsios has declared
that at least 300,000 people will be dead by year’s end in the
best-case scenario, and over a million will perish if things continue
on their present course. We must take immediate actions to condemn
the government of Sudan for their complicity and save the lives of
these innocent people.”

Rangel warned: “We acted too late to save million of Jews during
World War II. We didn’t act at all when hundreds of thousands of
innocents were slaughtered in Rwanda. We have the opportunity now to
stop a genocide and we must act.”
After being asked several times by uniformed members of the Secret
Service to step aside, Rangel declined to do so and was handcuffed
and carried away in a police van.

It was almost 20 years ago to the day that the congressman was
arrested down the street at the South African Embassy while
protesting against the apartheid regime.
The Reverend Walter Fauntroy, who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King
Jr. during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, vowed to continue
the protests, with more arrests of prominent African-Americans in the
offing. “We will prick the conscience of the American people and
their elected officials to declare it what it is and then go in to
stop the genocide,” he declared.

Fellow protester, radio talk show host and social activist Joe
Madison said he would begin a hunger strike that would not end until
the Sudanese government stops its obstruction of humanitarian aid to
the stricken Darfur region.

The crisis in Sudan has become a hot foreign policy issue in a humid
and steamy Washington. While Rangel was being arrested on Embassy
Row, across town on Capitol Hill Senator Sam Brownback (Republican of
Kansas) told a news conference that Congress would introduce
resolutions that day declaring the Khartoum government’s actions in
Darfur to be genocide.

Meanwhile, at a White House ceremony in which he signed the latest
African Growth and Opportunity Act earlier in the day as Congressman
Rangel looked on, President Bush said: “I’m deeply concerned about
the humanitarian and human rights crisis in Darfur, Sudan. For the
sake of peace and basic humanity, I echo the sentiments of the
secretary of state. I call upon the government of Sudan to stop the
Jingaweit violence.”

The president added: “I call on all parties of the conflict to
respect the cease-fire, to respect human rights, and to allow for the
free movement of humanitarian workers and aid. The United States and
the United Nations and the leadership of the African Union are
working to bring relief to the suffering people of that region.
America will continue to strongly support these efforts for peace.”