WASHINGTON, D.C. – Executives and staff of the Enough Project at the Center for American Progress have joined in the Darfur Fast for Life fasting chain begun by actress/activist Mia Farrow to call attention to the continuing suffering of the people of Sudan. Enough staff and leadership join more than 500 people in 33 countries who have fasted for one day or more, consuming only water or the 1,000 calories-per-day rations that are fed to residents of refugee camps.
“The Darfur Fast for Life is a powerful message that the situation on the ground in Sudan remains simply unacceptable and demands a much stronger response from our political leaders than we have seen to date,” said Enough Project Executive Director John Norris.
Since the Darfur Fast for Life project began on April 27, it has attracted members of Congress including the Congressional Black Caucus and Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL); prominent philanthropists and entrepreneurs including film producer Abigail Disney, Sir Richard Branson of Virgin America, and Pam Omidyar of Humanity United; and nonprofit leaders including Jane Wales of the World Affairs Council and Ruth Messinger of the American Jewish World Service. Individuals from the music world have joined, including singers Peter Gabriel and Jon Foreman and record producer David Hodges, along with a three-time Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer, Josh Davis.
Enough Project Adviser Omer Ismail noted, “The commitment of people from 33 different countries to the fast is remarkable, and demonstrates the tremendous grassroots support for a comprehensive solution not just to Darfur, but Sudan’s multiple conflicts.”
Darfur Fast for Life is asking the Obama administration to ensure the return of 13 humanitarian aid agencies that were expelled from Sudan on March 5, following the International Criminal Court’s issuance of an arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The group’s website, www.fastdarfur.org, also directs visitors to an April 30 letter to President Barack Obama from the Enough Project, the Save Darfur Coalition, and the Genocide Intervention Network containing detailed policy and strategic recommendations. The letter, President Obama and Sudan: A Blueprint for Peace, asks for commencement of a formal Darfur peace process; full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the governments of southern Sudan and Khartoum; and negotiations leading to agreements for peace in Chad and eastern Sudan.
Enough’s Co-founder John Prendergast, who was an early participant in the fast in addition to joining this weekend’s fast, noted that “as activists, we must, of course, press our government do everything it can to address these crises of the day. But we must also keep our eyes on the longer-term prize: a peaceful, democratic Sudan. That should be President Obama’s top priority and his administration should work assiduously to achieve that objective.”
Earlier this month, Ms. Farrow met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who released a statement saying, “As the administration and our special envoy develop a new policy, we must consider how we can get Khartoum to change its behavior.”
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus appeared with Ms. Farrow in a press conference to announce that they were joining the fast with the “hope that our fasting will compel decision makers to act more decisively to put an end to the suffering of millions of innocent men, women and children in Darfur. We must do all we can until the violence, suffering, and displacement have ended,” said Representative Donald M. Payne (D-NJ), a board member of the caucus, at a Capitol Hill news conference.
The CBC’s chair, Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA), added that while “the president is very focused on addressing the genocide in Darfur, … we want to make sure that Special Representative Gration [has] the type of tools and assistance that is required to address this humanitarian crisis that is of enormous proportions, one which we have not seen in many of our lifetimes."
“Perhaps most importantly,” said Ms. Omidyar in a blog about her fast, “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.”
Visit the Enough Project’s blog, Enough Said, for updates on this issue.