AJWS’s Ruth Messinger Voices Support for Civil Disobedience outside the Sudanese Embassy

April 27, 2009; New York, NY – American Jewish World Service (AJWS) has expressed solidarity with the five members of Congress and three anti-genocide activists arrested Monday at the Sudanese embassy in Washington DC.

The members of Congress are Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md; Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., and Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif. The arrested activists are Jerry Fowler, president of the Save Darfur Coalition, John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project, and Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

“I applaud this group for taking a strong and public stand against the unacceptable situation in Darfur,” Ruth W. Messinger, AJWS’s president said in a statement.

The genocide in Darfur has claimed more than 400,000 lives and displaced more than two million people over six years. Most recently, the Government of Sudan expelled 13 international humanitarian organizations and three local organizations operating in Darfur, resulting in the loss of health and nutrition services for 1.5 million people, the loss of food distribution for 1.1 million and interruptions in water, hygiene and sanitation services for 1.6 million. There is now grave concern that a massive wave of disease, death and population shifts could begin within months.

“The Congress members and activists, who were arrested outside the Sudanese embassy, truly represented the people of this country who have been steadfast and outspoken in their calls to end this ongoing genocide,” Messinger said.

“Today, leaders from our government and the activist movement to end the genocide demonstrated ‘the fierce urgency of now’ and our shared responsibility to all humanity,” Messinger said. “As we have commemorated past genocides this month, we remember the cost of inaction and silence. Our government has an essential role to play in bringing peace to Sudan and saving the lives of those most vulnerable. This includes a full resumption of humanitarian aid and a lasting peace for all of Sudan.

“Once again, I urge the Obama administration to prioritize ending this genocide.”

AJWS has been a leader in efforts to end the genocide. It has mobilized the American Jewish community and worked with others in the international development, human rights and faith communities to pass state and federal divestment legislation as well as increase U.S. funding for humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping.

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