December 23, 2008; New York, NY— American Jewish World Service (AJWS) recently sent a letter, signed by nearly 200 rabbis, urging Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to continue blocking attempts by the United Nations Security Council at delaying justice for Sudan’s president, Omar Al-Bashir.
Since 2003, the Government of Sudan has been arming and organizing militias, with backing by the Sudanese army, to engage in a genocidal campaign against the people of Darfur. To date, the conflict in Sudan has led to the deaths of more than 400,000 civilians and creation of more than 2.7 million refugees and internally displaced persons. Since the beginning of 2008, Darfuris have been displaced at a rate of approximately 1,000 per day. Increasing violence is impeding the ability of humanitarian workers to provide aid to the more than 4 million now dependent on humanitarian assistance to survive.
Bashir, throughout this period, has continually thwarted all international efforts at bringing peace to the region. His actions include placing onerous and debilitating restrictions on the United Nations/African Union (UNAMID) peacekeeping force currently deployed in Darfur; refusing to hand over war criminals being sought by the International Criminal Court (ICC); and, in clear violation of a U.N. arms embargo, transferring weapons to Darfur without U.N. approval.
The ICC is currently seeking Bashir’s arrest on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Bashir is pushing for a deferral in the U.N. Security Council but his attempts to date have been thwarted by a determined stand by the United States.
“We represent a variety of denominations and thousands of congregants from all corners of the country,” said AJWS’s letter to Secretary of State Rice, which 196 rabbis signed. “The Jewish community, in solidarity with the people of Darfur, believes in the importance of justice for perpetrators of genocide and the need for a lasting peace in the region.
“The situation on the ground demonstrates that there is no current justification for suspending the court’s investigation.
“Pirkei Avot, which describes moral and ethical sayings of the Jewish sages, teaches us: ‘On three things does the world endure – justice, truth and peace.’ It is in this spirit that we hope for a lasting peace in Darfur, justice for the perpetrators of this genocide and a truthful accounting of life in Darfur . . . The United States must stand by its stated commitment to block any attempt in the Security Council to suspend ICC proceedings. Don’t trade justice for more of Bashir’s empty promises.”
AJWS has been a leader in efforts to end the genocide in Darfur by mobilizing the American Jewish community and working with others in the international development, human rights and faith communities to pass state and federal divestment legislation; increase U.S. funding for international humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping; and push for peace and security in the region.
To view AJWS’s letter in its entirety, please visit: http://ajws.org/assets/uploaded_documents/rabbi_icc.pdf
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David L. Marcus