Protesters Call for Intervention in Darfur
STEVE YDSTIE, host:
Here in Washington, thousands rallied on the National Mall yesterday to demand international intervention to stop the violence in Darfur.
NPR's Allison Keyes was there.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Not on our watch! Not-on-our-watch!
ALLISON KEYES reporting:
Protestors chanted, not on our watch, and brought blankets, banners, and giant papier-mâché figures to a rally organizers hoped would send a clear message that the world can no longer tolerate what they call atrocities in Sudan.
The list of speakers for the rally included actor George Clooney, civil rights activist Al Sharpton, and Presidential Letter recipient Paul Rusesabagina, who saved more than 1,200 people from the genocide in Rwanda, twelve years ago.
Mr. PAUL RUSESABAGINA (Presidential Letter Recipient): Today, it is our mission not to remain bystanders, but to stand up and fight and try to help all of those people in need.
KEYES: Jewish organizations stood with clusters of Darfurians, African-American families, and groups of whites, chanting and waving signs reading, never again. People held their children on their shoulders so they could see the signs and the stage.
Looking out over the multiracial crowd, Rabbi Marc Schneier told them this movement is a rejuvenation of the historic black-Jewish alliance from the 1960s.
Rabbi MARC SCHNEIER (Founder, The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding; President, North American Board of Rabbis): The spirit of interracial, inter-faith, inter-ethnic cooperation, provides the model for our actions against the atrocities in Darfur.
KEYES: President Bush said Friday he supported the rallies after meeting with Darfur advocates at the white house. He wants to see the United Nations and NATO supplement the African Union troops already in place in Sudan.
President GEORGE W. BUSH: We have got AU troops on the ground. Those troops need to be augmented and increased through strong United Nations action.
KEYES: But it isn't clear how to accomplish that. The Sudanese government is against a U.N. mission there. The charge d'affair at the Sudan mission to the U.N., Yasser Abda Salam(ph), says the Bush administration and the international community should butt out.
Charge d'Affair YASSER ABDA SALAM (Charge d'Affair, Sudanese Mission to the U.N.): I appeal to the American administration to just wait for peace in Darfur, instead of instigating apartheid and waging war.
KEYES: Allison Keyes, NPR News, Washington.