Issue 12: September 2009 Take Action

September 21, 2009; International Day of Peace and World Day of Fasting

On Monday September 21, 2009, UN declared International Day of Peace, we ask you to join others worldwide to fast for Peace and Justice in Sudan.

WHAT: Water-only fast from midnight-midnight on Monday September 21, 2009. For those who are unable to fast water-only we encourage you to participate by eating refugee rations of 800 calories for the entire day.

amouna_sm_with_kids.jpgWHO: It began April 27, with Mia Farrow’s 12-day hunger strike. Others, including Sir Richard Branson, Peter Gabriel, Maria Bello, Congressman Harold Payne, Senator Bill Frist, and many more, taking the baton, water-only fasting — a personal expression of outrage — a global community standing in solidarity with innocent civilians in extreme danger.

Those already committed to the September 21 fast include Don Cheadle, Mia Farrow, Sir Richard Branson, Pamela Omidyar, John Prendergast, Taylor Hansen, Shannon Sedwick-Davis, James Michael, Oregon’s Secretary of State Bill Bradbury and many more from around the world. Over 200 people have already signed up on the Facebook Event!

JOIN: Send an email to join[at] that includes your NAME, LOCATION, TYPE OF FAST, and DATE.

WHY: The situation in Sudan is urgent. Nearly 3 million Darfuris living in camps face the threat of rape and aid cut-offs; the country’s president remains wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity; and a return to full-scale North-South civil war looms. The Obama administration and other world leaders must:

1. Lead a more effective and urgent peace process for Darfur
2. Build an international coalition for strict implementation of the North-South peace deal
3. Implement a policy that creates real consequences* for those who continue to attack civilians, block life-saving aid, undermine peace, and obstruct justice

FURTHER ACTION: More than 10 members of the i-ACT team will join in the fast. We personally challenge you to get at least 10 people you know to fast in solidarity with the people of Darfur.

2 replies on “September 21, 2009; International Day of Peace and World Day of Fasting”

I, Brent Joseph Walker, am fasting today, Monday, September 21, 2009, in solidarity with the victims of the genocide in Darfur. May we all find a way to end this horrendous situation as soon as we can !!!!!

Save Darfur”: Fast the Eid!

“Save Darfur” isn’t about Sudan, or indeed Darfur, at all–it’s about an imagined empathy and generating a domestic American political agenda.

posted by Alex de Waal

America’s Darfur campaign sometimes goes beyond parody. The last few weeks have shown this to the full, beginning with the fantastical “Sudan Now” campaign and culminating in the proposal to fast the Eid. It beggars belief.

Having spent most of the last few months in Sudan, especially Darfur, it is increasingly evident that “Save Darfur”—here meaning not just the Save Darfur Coalition but the wider movement—is out of touch with realities. What they describe and prescribe has little or no relation to what is happening and what should be done. Three recent “Save Darfur” activities highlight this.

First is their campaign to push Obama to “keep the promise” and the ridiculous advertisements in newspapers and the Obamas’ vacation destination. They might do well to recall John Maynard Keynes’s well-known riposte to someone who accused him of inconsistency: “When the facts change, I change my mind? What do you do sir?” The facts have changed, the campaign hasn’t. A few months ago I asked rhetorically, “Can Sudan activism transform itself for the Obama era?” So far, the record is dispiriting.

There’s an episode in Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 where the principal character, Yossarian, is tending to a badly wounded young airman, Snowden. He goes about stemming a leg wound in the airman’s leg, while the boy mutely nods, until Yossarian realizes that he is meaning that there’s another wound too—a piece of shrapnel has got inside Snowden’s flak jacket and torn open his side. Yossarian has been busy bandaging the wrong wound while the poor boy is dying. It’s the defining trauma of the book. And it’s the defining error of the “keep the promise” campaign—money misspent on a campaign that is only hampering General Scott Gration the task he has correctly identified, which is finding a workable political settlement for Sudan as a whole. The efforts by “Save Darfur” to try to link its clamour on Darfur with the national issue stretches credibility.

Next was a revealing quote from John Prendergast in response to the remark by Gen. Martin Agwai, outgoing UNAMID Force Commander, that the war in Darfur was essentially over. He could not dispute Gen. Agwai’s facts nor his integrity. Prendergast’s criticism was that this was “something that takes the wind out of the sails of international action.”
This was perhaps more illuminating than Prendergast intended: his campaign is not about domestic solutions but international (read: U.S.) action. That’s Save Darfur’s second big error: if there is to be a solution, it will come from inside Sudan, and must be political, addressed at the structural political challenges of Sudan. A campaign focused on a genocide that isn’t happening, for the U.S. to step up its pressure to stop killing that has already ended, is just making Save Darfur look poorly-informed, and America look silly. Intermittently, “Save Darfur” has tried to rebrand itself as a peace movement—but its origins as an intervention campaign make it virtually impossible to make the transformation. Peace cannot be forced or dictated. If “Save Darfur” is interested in peace, the best it can do in the cause of peace is to fall silent.

Third–and simply stunning–is the choice of date for a fast for Darfur: 21 September. Muslims have been fasting since the beginning of Ramadhan and Eid will fall on 20 and 21 September. As soon as I mentioned the date to my wife, who is a Muslim, she laughed out loud. Not just her: every Muslim, Sudanese or otherwise, I have mentioned this to (trying my best to keep a straight face) has guffawed in amazement. Just as Darfurians are breaking their fast, Save Darfur’s campaigners will be starting theirs. The choice of day is astonishingly ignorant of, and insensitive to the Muslim world. “Save Darfur” may be a multi-faith initiative, but Muslims hardly count. “Save Darfur” isn’t about Sudan, or indeed Darfur, at all–it’s about an imagined empathy and generating a domestic American political agenda. Shame on you, Prendergast and your fellow “activists”, shame, shame, shame.

Leave a Reply