New Internationalist

Don’t ignore Darfur

Issue 401

The international campaign to protect Darfur is growing. There are several ways you can play a part.

1 Pressure your government

In 2005 UN members agreed that governments had a ‘responsibility to protect’ their populations from genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and that the ‘international community’ has a responsibility and right to intervene if a government fails to do this.

Write to your government calling on them to fulfil this responsibility, including:
• A much larger international peacekeeping force in Darfur, with a mandate to protect civilians and humanitarian workers
• An international presence along the Chad/Sudan border
• Targeted sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, on senior Sudanese Government officials
• Support for a more inclusive peace process in which Darfurian civil society is fully represented
• Indictments by the International Criminal Court of more individuals who are suspected of crimes against humanity in Darfur, and pressure on the Sudanese regime to hand them over

2 Join the ‘Day for Darfur’ movement

The third ‘Day for Darfur’ took place in 35 countries on 28 April 2007. There were over 445 events, from Stockholm to Dar es Salaam to Los Angeles. People gathered at rallies, marches, ‘die-ins’, conferences and vigils to demonstrate their solidarity with the people of Darfur, and their impatience at their governments’ failure to stop the killings.

To find out when the next Day for Darfur will take place, and what’s going on in your country, go to

3 Challenge China

China’s support for the Sudanese regime has been one of the biggest stumbling blocks in the way of decisive UN action on Darfur. Activists in the US have launched a campaign to force China to reconsider its position by targeting the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. This seems to be having some effect.

On 28 March 2007, film star Mia Farrow, of all people, wrote an uncompromising feature in the Wall Street Journal, branding the Games the ‘Genocide Olympics’, and likening Steven Spielberg, official ‘artistic adviser’ for the Games, to Nazi filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl. A mortified Spielberg wrote to the Chinese Government. Worried that the reputation of the Games – intended to showcase China’s new superpower status to the world – will be sullied, Beijing appears to have told Khartoum to let 3,000 UN peacekeepers in. Khartoum complied.

For more information on the campaign, see

4 Support Darfurian asylum seekers

Although the vast majority of Darfurians displaced by the violence are living in camps in either Darfur or neighbouring Chad, some have made it out of the region and are now seeking asylum in other countries.

It recently emerged that of the 1,000 Darfurians seeking asylum in Britain in the last year, a little under half had their applications rejected and were deported to Khartoum – into the hands of the very government they fled from. There is evidence that some were tortured on return.1 As a result, in April 2007, the High Court of Appeal blocked the British Government’s attempts to send three Darfurian asylum seekers to Khartoum.

For more about the campaign for asylum seekers in Britain, see

  1. Sarah Maguire, ‘Safe as Ghost Houses: Prospects for Darfur African survivors removed to Khartoum’, The Aegis Trust, June 2006.

Organizations campaigning on Darfur:

Amnesty International
Human Rights Watch
International Crisis Group
International Refugee Rights Initiative
Médecins Sans Frontières
Oxfam International

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
Darfur Consortium
Justice Africa

Darfur Australia Network

Waging Peace
Protect Darfur*

Save Darfur Canada

Sudan Human Rights Organization
Sudan Organization Against Torture

United States
Genocide Intervention Network
Save Darfur Coalition
Sudan Divestment Taskforce

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