Wednesday, March 22, 2006

U.S. Jewish groups announced a Darfur prayer week

Faith-based Coalition to Hold 'Week of Prayer and Action for Darfur' to Generate 1 Million Postcards Urging Bush to End Genocide
U.S. Newswire
3/21/2006

WASHINGTON -- The Save Darfur Coalition, an alliance of more than 150 faith-based, humanitarian and human rights groups representing 130 million Americans, announced today it is launching a "Week of Prayer and Action for Darfur" from April 2 - 9 and inviting communities of all faiths to participate. The goal is to promote its "Million Voices for Darfur" campaign to generate one million postcards to President Bush urging him to use the power of his office to fulfill his Feb. 17 pledge to support a stronger multi-national force to protect the Darfuri people (http://www.MillionVoicesForDarfur.org). Ending the killing in the Sudan is a U.S. responsibility, according to a majority of likely voters in the latest Zogby America poll of 1,007 likely voters nationwide (see poll results at: http://www.zogby.com/news/ReadNews.dbm?ID=1083).

The Save Darfur Coalition also announced that it has generated an impressive 100,000 electronic and hand-written postcards since launching the Million Voices for Darfur campaign on Jan. 12, the 55th anniversary of the International Genocide Prevention Day.

"We can either speak out and become agents of justice, or remain silent and be rendered irrelevant," said Rev. Gloria E. White-Hammond, M.D., the chairwoman of the Million Voices for Darfur campaign, who has made seven trips into war-torn southern Sudan where she has been involved in obtaining the freedom of 10,000 women and children who were enslaved during the two decades long civil war. "I hope faith-based leaders across the country will lead their congregations to declare in word and deed, 'Not on our watch.'"

The Million Voices for Darfur campaign has created suggestions for incorporating the issue of Darfur into a sermon, homily, D'var Torah or Jummuah Khutbah, sample prayers for Darfur, and bulletin inserts for the Christian, Jewish, Muslim and interfaith traditions. All of these materials are available at http://www.SaveDarfur.org/faith.

"Today, millions of people are suffering from a preventable humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of western Sudan," said Rev. Richard Cizik, vice president of governmental affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals. "Hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost, but countless more can be saved."

"While we and other organizations horrified by the human rights violations have been urging specific actions since the crisis began, the key decision makers now need to see that there exists overwhelming public pressure to force them to act," said Imam Rauf, founder and CEO of the American Society for Muslim Advancement. "The Million Voices for Darfur campaign has been designed to help millions of Americans make their voices heard."

"Currently, the only security on the ground is an undermanned African Union force that cannot protect civilians or aid workers," said Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches. "To stop the bloodshed, the African Union will need a stronger civilian protection mandate, a major increase in the number of troops on the ground, and much larger logistical and monetary contributions from the UN, European Union, and NATO. Only the United States has the power to lead that effort."

"We commend President Bush for asking Congress last month for $514 million in emergency supplemental funding for humanitarian and peacekeeping in Sudan," said Rabbi Steve Gutow, executive director of the Jewish Council on Public Affairs. "Now, we would like the Bush administration to do something more; we urge them to press the United Nations to approve a Chapter 7 mandate allowing the African Union to use force to protect both civilians and themselves and Congress needs to pass The Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, so the perpetrators of this genocidal activity are held responsible for their crimes against humanity."

"The decision of whether or not to stop the genocide in Darfur may be one of the defining moral questions of our time," said Father Michael Perry, coordinator of the Africa region for Franciscans International. "When the cost of failure is thousand lives lost for every month the conflict continues, responsible nations of the world have a clear ethical and religious obligation to act."

Anyone can send an electronic version of this postcard in just a few seconds by visiting http://www.MillionVoicesForDarfur.org. The postcards will be delivered to Washington, D.C. during the "SAVE DARFUR: Rally to Stop Genocide" (http://www.SaveDarfur.org/rally) on April 30.

Rally speakers include Olympic speed skating Gold and Silver Medalist Joey Cheek, who donated his $40,000 U.S. Olympic Committee bonus to benefit the children in Darfur and Brian Steidle, a former Marine captain and U.S. representative to the African Union's peacekeeping mission in Darfur from September 2004 to February 2005.

The rally will conclude a 21,000 mile, 22-city photo exhibit and speaking "Tour for Darfur: Eyewitness to Genocide" hosted by Capt. Steidle to urge the Bush administration to take all the necessary steps to end the genocide and build a lasting peace in Darfur, and call on Congress to provide the resources necessary to do so (http://www.SaveDarfur.org/SteidleTour).

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