Amnesty International Delivers Global Petition on Darfur to White House; Instant Karma Campaign Generates Close to Half a Million Signatures
WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --
Amnesty International USA, marking United Nations Day, on Wednesday delivered to the White House a global petition with close to half a million signatures urging the Bush administration to press for deployment of the U.N. peacekeeping force to Darfur by early 2008 to urgently save lives.
The petition, signed by notables including Nobel Peace Laureate Jose Ramos-Horta, rock star Michael Stipe, lead singer of R.E.M., and actor Gael Garcia Bernal, among others, was generated by "Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur." The project combines the power of John Lennon's recorded by some of today's best known artists, together with cutting-edge online and mobile activism. Lennon's widow Yoko One generously granted rights to Lennon's entire songbook to Amnesty International to call attention to the urgent situation in Darfur. More than 50 musical artists are featured on a CD and music downloads, including US, Aerosmith, Green Day, Christina Aguilera, Ben Harper and others (http://www.instantkarma.org/).
With the date uncertain for the deployment of the multi-national peacekeeping force and new blocks being thrown up by the Sudanese government, Larry Cox, executive director of AIUSA, and Lynn Fredriksson, advocacy director for Africa, pressed White House officials in a meeting to use their influence with key countries for the speedy deployment of the 26,000 U.N. peacekeepers.
The violence and atrocities that have befallen civilians in Darfur since 2003 have sparked new outrage internationally with recent reports of another brutal massacre in South Darfur. Witnesses told the United Nations and the African Union that government troops killed more than 30 civilians in the village of Muhagiriya, slitting the throats of several men praying at a mosque and shooting a 5-year-old boy in the back as he tried to run away.
"The viciousness of this latest attack only adds to the urgency of our message," said Cox of Amnesty International. "Are the U.S. and other key governments willing to sacrifice more lives while the deployment process moves slowly into gear? As a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, the United States has an obligation to use its influence to save lives now in Darfur by pushing ahead swiftly to get the peacekeepers on the ground early next year. This force is the only hope that the suffering will end."
Amnesty International warned in a report this week that the peacekeeping force approved by the U.N. Security Council is being delayed by Sudan's failure to accept the list of troop-contributing countries, and open the land assigned to the force, among other things. The report also said the international community is failing to supply urgently-needed supplies, including military helicopters.
United Nations officials estimate that more than 200,000 people have died in Darfur's conflict since 2003 and more than 2.5 million have been driven from their homes and depend on international aid to survive.
Source: Amnesty International USA
CONTACT: Ben Somberg of Amnesty International, +1-212-633-4268
Web Site: http://www.instantkarma.org/