Darfur protests continue

IssueSeptember - November 2004
News by Ippy D

Over the past three months there have been growing protests at the ongoing violence in Darfur.

Thousands of people from the Sudanese diaspora, pan-Africanists, and the broader peace movement have taken to the streets - particularly in the US and Britain - including in London, New York, Glasgow and Washington.

In London, demonstrations have been attracting over 500 people and have been very mobile - visiting the embassies of several African countries and the British government's symbolic seats of power - Downing Street and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Kofi Nani from the African Liberation Support Campaign (pictured, right), commenting on the London protests said that they were “organised under the umbrella of Friends of Darfur, which has initiated an international action against the genocide in Darfur (Western Sudan). The initiative calls on people all over the world, especially in Africa, to organise demonstrations at Sudanese embassies and consulates, and demand that the Sudanese government should stop the genocide in Darfur.”

In the US, Congress members were involved in blockading the entrance to the Sudanese embassy during large protests; three were arrested.

In Khartoum, government sponsored protests against anticipated military intervention in the region have also been growing, with tens of thousands attending a demonstration at the beginning of August.

The African Union is considering deploying 2,500 troops in the region (drawn from African countries), though the Sudanese government is opposed to such a large force. Britain, Australia and the US have all shown a willingness to send troops and French soldiers in Chad are reported to have been moved up to the Sudanese border. With an Islamist government in power there are concerns that western governments' enthusiasm for sending troops to the region may not be entirely altruistic.

It is estimated that around 50,000 people have been killed during the conflict and more than one million have been forced from their homes over the past 18 months.