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Going to Jail to Fight Genocide


Despite what some UN diplomats and squeamish academics might be saying, the genocide by attrition continues in Darfur, through the use of rape and denial of humanitarian assistance as weapons of war. There are no gas chambers; there are not even the dramatic village burnings of 2003-5 Darfur. But the conditions designed to bring about the destruction - in whole or in part - of particular groups of people on the basis of their identity continues.

That is why we decided to hold a protest in front of the Sudanese embassy on Monday, and to get arrested when the Secret Service told us to leave.

That is why we fasted yesterday in support of our friend Mia Farrow in her fast for Darfur.

That is why we are raising our voices as loudly as we can to say "Not on our watch!" We need you to write to your Senators, Representatives and to President Obama urging that full humanitarian access be secured and a credible Darfur peace process be created by the U.S. in the next 30 days. We need your to make your voices heard by calling the White House switchboard at 1-800-GENOCIDE with that message.

We had the privilege of being cellmates with some distinguished human rights and civil rights advocates. The legendary Congressman John L. Lewis was with us, along with four other extremely committed members of Congress, Jim McGovern, Keith Ellison, and on the women's side Donna Edwards and Lynn Woolsey. Jerry Fowler of the Save Darfur Coalition joined us as well.

One of the highlights for both of us was the opportunity to listen to Rep. Lewis talk about his 40 stints in jail during the civil rights movement in the 1960s. His descriptions of the horrendous mistreatment by his jailers in Mississippi reinforced to us the historic contributions he and his fellow marchers (which included the elder co-author of this article) made to ending some of the worst injustices here in America.

We need to do the same now to end the bloodshed and desecration in Sudan. We got arrested to shake up the status quo, to demonstrate that peace is possible, and to affirm that Americans all over this country want to see our great nation do all we can to achieve peace in Sudan as soon as humanly possible.

Millions of lives are at stake.