Association of Canadian Students for Darfur

April 10, 2010 08:00 ET

Activists from 19 Countries Join Global Day of Action Ahead of Elections to Urge ‘No Business as Usual’ With Sudan

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - April 10, 2010) - On April 10th and 11th, activists from 19 countries will drum a "beat for peace" in a global demand that the April 11 elections not become a flashpoint for increased violence and human rights abuses. Many opposition parties have withdrawn from the elections citing violent intimidation, fears of vote-rigging, and reports of widespread restrictions on basic freedoms that make election campaigning perilous.

The global Sudan365 (www.sudan365.org) coalition, including Amnesty International, Arab Coalition for Darfur, Darfur Consortium, Enough Project, FIDH, Human Rights Watch, Italians for Darfur, IKV Pax Christi, Refugees International, Save Darfur Coalition, and Sudan Forum Norway, has initiated a one-year/365-day program to promote democracy, justice and peace in Sudan.

Events are taking place from Mali to Norway, South Africa to Israel, Senegal to Northern Ireland (for a full list of locations see www.sudan365.org) as part of a global "beat for peace" backed by famous drummers including Stewart Copeland from The Police, Phil Selway from Radiohead, Ghanaian drummer Mustafa Tettey Addey and Middle Eastern pop star Mohamed Munir.

In solidarity, Canadian Students for Darfur, with STAND UBC, is holding its annual Day for Darfur on April 11 at the Vancouver Art Gallery (Robson Street plaza) between 12:45 and 4 PM, with live music to "beat for peace" including Yoro's amazing talking drum, Dan Beer, the Jarrod Tyler band, and the CJ Thon group with DJ Praise Owora. Speakers include Darfuri refugees, Liberal MP Dr Hedy Fry, NDP MP Bill Siksay, and Adrianne Carr of the Green Party. 

Campaigners are urging world leaders to exercise extra vigilance, warning that the elections environment is unstable, and pointing to the recent offensive in the Jebel Marra region in Darfur, in which hundreds of civilians were reported killed and thousands displaced from their homes, and increased violence in southern Sudan.

'Sudan Watch' will invigilate during the election period. See Sudan Vote Monitor (www.sudanvotemonitor.com), a project launched by Sudanese civil society to report on election violations, and Twitter (twitter.com/sudan365).

"Opposition activists have been prevented from carrying out peaceful activities, arrested and tortured. It is clear that elections carried out in this context will be severely compromised." said Osman Hummaida, Executive Director of the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies.

"Violations of human rights – particularly restrictions on freedom of assembly and freedom of the press – are threatening prospects for a free, fair and credible vote across Sudan," said Georgette Gagnon, Africa Director of Human Rights Watch. "Sudanese authorities are clearly failing to uphold international standards including those agreed with the African Union in Juba in March." said Ms Gagnon.

'The respect, protection and promotion of human rights by all those involved in the election; including the government, candidates, and supporters is of critical importance. Sudan must end the cycle of violence, insecurity and human rights abuses in the country,' said Erwin van der Borght, Africa Director of Amnesty International. 

The elections are intended to be a milestone in the implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Campaigners are calling on the international community to insist that Sudanese parties to resolve outstanding issues ahead of the scheduled referendum in January 2011 and increase measures to protect civilians over the course of the year. The campaign calls for:

  • The Government of National Unity and Government of South Sudan to respect rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, and guarantee freedom of movement to election observers;
  • Election Observation Missions to remain in Sudan for the election period to monitor and publicly report on the human rights context before, during and after the elections;
  • The international community to speak out about any serious human rights violations;
  • The UN mission to increase its presence and patrols in volatile areas, in line with its mandate to protect civilians;
  • World leaders to scale up their support for Sudanese parties in resolving outstanding issues ahead of the referendum and work with Sudanese parties to agree on a decisive strategy for international engagement after the referendum.

"This is a wake-up call to leaders. The elections start tomorrow. The referendum is less than 9 months away. The situation in Sudan remains dire. The recent spike in violence in Darfur shows that the conflict is far from over. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement, that brought an end to a civil war in which over 2 million people died, remains fragile and inter-ethnic violence has increased. We need a first-class, coordinated international response. And we need it now." said Joel Charny, Vice President for Policy, Refugees International, a member of the campaign.

"Farce will turn into tragedy ... if violence is allowed to get out of control and Sudan's people suffer." said Mark Lotwis, Acting President of the Save Darfur Coalition.

The Association of Canadian Students for Darfur raises public awareness of the ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan, and urges the Government of Canada to take world leadership in stopping the genocide, and bringing justice and democracy to Sudan.

The full Sudan365 press release is posted on the ACSD blog site www.darfurcanada.wordpress.com.

The Vancouver, Canada contact is; Bruce Edwards 604-820-3646 darfur@telus.net Canadian Students for Darfur

Contact Information

  • Association of Canadian Students for Darfur
    Bruce Edwards
    604-820-3646
    darfur@telus.net