WASHINGTON – Jerry Fowler, president of the Save Darfur Coalition, today released a statement expressing “deep disappointment” with President Bush’s decision to attend the Beijing Olympics opening ceremonies in August. Activists and lawmakers earlier this year urged President Bush to not attend the opening ceremonies unless the UNAMID peacekeeping mission was fully and effectively deployed – a benchmark that will not be met.
“We are deeply disappointed that President Bush announced today that he’s attending the Olympic opening ceremonies. We suspect he’s disappointed too because he carefully timed the announcement for late in the day before a holiday weekend. This announcement comes just days following the United States’ presidency of the U.N. Security Council and days before the one year anniversary of the UNAMID peacekeeping mission – the latter being a monumental international failure to date.
“Despite its recent tough words, Beijing’s longstanding record on Sudan is clear. When China could obstruct meaningful measures to end the violence in Darfur – it did. When Beijing officials could strike economic deals with the Khartoum regime, in part underwriting Sudan’s military campaign against their own civilians, they did. When China’s leaders could sell arms to Sudan that have been used against Darfuri civilians – they have.
“Darfuris languishing in camps have heard nothing but heart-wrenching rhetoric from world leaders who claim solidarity with those suffering and dying, yet cast their lots with those who abet and enable genocide. Rhetoric means nothing to Darfuris who continue to suffer violence, malnutrition and disease. Rhetoric means nothing to Darfuris who continually see their homes destroyed and way of life shattered.
“The president could have heeded the broad-based, bipartisan calls from activists and lawmakers who urged him to not attend the opening ceremonies unless the UNAMID peacekeeping force was fully and effectively deployed. The message would have been clear: Beijing must apply more pressure on the Khartoum regime to end their obstruction and permit the peacekeeping force to protect Darfuri civilians. Instead, the president ignored those calls.
“The president can still take meaningful action. His attendance of the opening ceremonies will provide an opportunity to personally press Chinese leaders on their Darfur policy. The president must take advantage of that opportunity.”
Darfur activists earlier this year released a joint position paper outlining the necessary and essential steps China needs to take to end the growing public outcry over China’s hosting of the Olympics Games while underwriting a genocide in Darfur.
As Sudan’s chief diplomatic sponsor, major weapons provider, and largest foreign investor and trade partner, China is in a unique position to help bring peace and security to the people of Darfur. Specifically, China should use its influence on the Sudanese government so that it permits the swift, full and effective deployment of the UNAMID peacekeeping force; implements the North-South peace deal and participate constructively in the Darfur peace process; and allows the unfettered delivery of humanitarian aid in Darfur and Eastern Chad.
Save Darfur Press Release