Olympic Torch Protests Bring Focus to Darfur


Olympic Torch Protests Bring Focus to Darfur

April 11, 2008

American Jewish World Service activists were among several thousand people who took to the streets of San Francisco on April 9, demonstrating against the arrival of the Olympic torch. Brandishing signs that read "Darfur: It Can't Wait" AJWS supporters joined those protesting against human rights abuses in Tibet and China's support of oppressive regimes in Sudan and Burma. Protestors included survivors of Darfur's brutal conflict, who held signs and urged China to use its strong economic ties with Sudan to end the genocide in Darfur.

"This is a key moment for those of us who have been organizing against this genocide for years," AJWS President Ruth Messinger told the crowd of protestors. "The theme of the Olympics is ‘One Dream for the World.’ That can't occur when people in Darfur are being displaced at the rate of tens of thousands a week."

"It was great to see the many Darfuri activists who participated in the demonstration in San Francisco," said Rabbi Lee Bycel, AJWS Western Region Executive Director. "A strong message is being sent to the Chinese government: stop supporting the genocide in Darfur. For all who care about the people of Darfur, the torch of hope and resolve was reignited - a reminder to China and Sudan that the world does have a conscience and that we will not stand idly by during the genocide in Darfur."

Listen to Ruth W. Messinger's report recorded live from the site of the demonstration.

(left) AJWS president Ruth W. Messinger speaks to a crowd of demonstrators

(L-R) AJWS board member Jamie Dubey, Ruth W. Messinger, an activist from Darfur, Rabbi Lee Bycel and board member Mark W. Bernstein

Listen to Ruth's report as protesters await the arrival of the Olympic torch.

Hear Ruth discuss the rerouting of the Olympic torch due to the protest.

Photographs by Elizabeth Friedman Branoff.