Welcome to the Sunday, May 08, 2005 issue of this Peace&Justice action email!

This email contains a troubling sign regarding the US White House position on Darfur. Having voiced earlier support, there have been a few disquieting signals being sent. As noted before, progress on Darfur continues at a snail's pace - the last thing needed is backtracking on the issue.



About one month ago the US Senate passed the Darfur Accountability Act, which contained a variety of actions to help stop the Darfur genocide. This past week President Bush, who earlier had taken action in support of Darfur, sent a letter asking Congress to delete the Darfur portions from the legislation before the Congress, as reported by NYT columnist Nicolas Kristof.

Prior to that US Secretary of State Rice gave an interview in which she deflected questions about Darfur and gave unusually low numbers for the needed African Union peacekeeping troops. In addition, when in Sudan, Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick would not affirm the administration's previous assessment that the killings amount to genocide. And he gave incredulously low estimates of Darfur's total death toll: 60,000 to 160,000 (most serious estimates place the number between 300,000 and 400,000, and rising by 500 a day).

Why the backtracking from the White House? Kristof speculates that it may be (a) concern that no neat solution exists and is reminiscent of the US's previous efforts, and failure, in Somalia; (b) there could be fear that it might place Sudan's North-South peace in jeopardy; (c) the Sudanese government and CIA links have been strengthened for their overall anti-terrorism campaign and this could weaken them.

Kristof concludes that in the end history will record what happened on Bush's watch regarding Darfur. I concur at least in that stopping the genocide is the right thing to do on its own merits and the genocide is of a scale that it should trump most other considerations. If you agree, then please consider signing the petition below (regardless of country of origin).

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Rod Downing

Surrey BC Canada
(604) 535-6550