Welcome to the Thursday, March 20, 2008 issue of this Peace&Justice action email!

In this issue I am foregoing some issues in order to get the first issue out, due to its urgency. There is opportunity to sign a petition urging China to end the violence and repression in Tibet. Similar to last year with Burma (Myanmar), these actions can easily fall on deaf ears, yet consider the alternative - a world that remains silent. The intent is to reach 1,000,000 signatures, and they are already half-way there. More on such considerations, below.

In addition there is a section giving the latest Darfur actions and latest status, plus a US action to reduce the use of child soldiers.




This action needs immediate attention!

The past few days has seen frontline television and newspaper coverage as China has tried to repress both the Tibetan protests and any media coverage of it. There has been an action by Avaaz to sign a petition that will be sent to Chinese President Hu Jintao. When I signed a couple of days ago there had been a couple of thousand signatures; when putting this email together it exceeded 500,000 - its success also means that due to the heavy traffic on the site, you may need to be patient, but please keep trying.

Tell China to Stop Violence and Engage in Dialogue with the Dalai Lama:

Brief background:




The recent history between Sudan and China is multi-faceted. Ever since China started selling arms to Sudan and buying its oil, China has shielded Sudan in the UN Security Council from most international action. That changed as Darfur activists stepped up pressure on China, threatening to label China's 2008 Olympics as the Genocide Olympics. In unofficial response, China used one of their veteran diplomats to interact with Sudan, resulting in, among other things, the acceptance of the UN's hybrid peacekeeping force into Darfur (called UNAMID). UNAMID started "deployment" in January, although in reality little as changed, as noted in last month's email.

In the interim, the violence has escalated in parts of Darfur, in a fashion nauseatingly similar to the early violence - villages burned, men killed, women raped, by the Sudanese-backed Janjaweed. In my view, China's actions, while welcome, can be labeled "doing just enough". That is, China is doing just enough to keep critics at bay, able to point to such diplomatic success as UNAMID's acceptance or their 300 Chinese engineers who are helping prepare for the UNAMID force.

So again comes a petition to China's veteran diplomat to fully exert their leverage to help resolve the crisis. You will note that it has clear benchmarks, avoiding previous mediocre attempts by China. To be fair, accomplishing the three goals will require the cooperation of more players than just China. But it will need China's full pressure.

Send Message to China to Fully Engage in Darfur Solution:





Consider getting involved with the next Global Day for Darfur, if you aren't already. In general it will take place on Sunday April 13, although it varies depending on the location and event. These events are important because, apart from again spotlighting the atrocities, they strengthen the position of those trying to negotiate a just peace deal, which is the ultimate aim that will allow the Darfurians to eventually return to a more sane life. The general focus this year is the affect on children - this crisis has dragged on for so long now that children born in the refugee camps are now five years old; for many others their chief memories will be of atrocity and deprivation.

Check the link below for a location near you; if there are none, check back later, as the events are only now coming together and being passed along. Or better yet, create your own event, take your stand - more is better - and it can be as simple as a candlelight vigil with some readings, or showing one of the many Darfur films available now (contact me if you want help):

Info. and Events (ongoing list):

Also check here:




Right now, governments around the world are using children as frontline solders, porters, and spies. The UN estimates that 250,000 children are actively involved in armed conflicts.

In many cases, the US is providing military financing, training, and weapons to the very governments that recruit and use child soldiers. A bipartisan bill to curb this misguided military aid could see movement in the Senate this month, and your action today is critical

The Child Soldier Prevention Act, as the bill is called, has 32 co-sponsors in the Senate. Oxfam has created the following action and needs your help to convince the other 68 senators to sign on.

Send to US Senate (US citizens only):



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Rod Downing

Surrey BC Canada
(604) 535-6550