Arrested for the Sake of Sudan Awareness
“Send Bashir to ICC!” chanted a crowd gathered in front of the Sudanese Embassy this morning, demanding that Omar al-Bashir, the President of Sudan, be tried at the International Criminal Court for his violent actions against his own people.
Joining Rabbi David Saperstein at the protest were Congressmen Al Green, Jim Moran, and Jim McGovern; actor and activist George Clooney and his journalist father, Nick; John Prendergast, president of the ENOUGH Project; activist Martin Luther King III; Benjamin Jealous, president of the NAACP; Tom Andrews, president of United to End Genocide; and dozens of other human rights leaders. Together, they defiantly trespassed the Sudanese Embassy, patiently awaiting the last of three verbal warnings to step off the property. When they did not heed officers' warnings, they were arrested and led off the property in plastic handcuffs.
We at the RAC and throughout the Reform Movement are proud of Rabbi Saperstein’s stand for social justice, and he is most certainly engaged in stimulating conversation with the other high-profile activists as they await release from the police station. But as exciting though today's events may be, we must keep forefront in our minds the dire reason why these events occurred.
The Sudanese people are on the brink of starvation because President Omar al-Bashir has blockaded humanitarian aid from entering targeted areas – areas that have seen bombs fly across the sky and soldiers massacre families; areas where mothers and fathers do not know whether their children will ever live with confidence in another day on Earth.
As Rabbi Saperstein reminded us today, “We must not, we dare not, we will not stand idly by.” The United States must reach out to the people of Sudan and South Sudan before this crisis escalates further. If we are to learn from history, we must look back to Darfur in 2003 and do everything in our power to prevent another mass atrocity to that scale. The courageous leaders today have shown us that the cost of indifference is the lives of innocent people, and that civil disobedience has the power to stifle apathy and change the course of history by igniting awareness.
Visit the RAC's Flickr page for additional photos of today's protest.