Darfur Fast in D.C.–Day 1

posted by Mike on August 1st, 2005

The Sudanese Embassy said they would call off plans for a commemorative event for late Vice President John Garang, and closed their consular office for two days, after our group refused to interrupt our 4-day fast and vigil for an end to genocide in Darfur.

Embassy staffer lowers flag to half-mast
Embassy staffer lowers flag to half-mast.

The core group of people fasting for an end to genocide in Darfur started off the day by joining a weekly vigil at the Pentagon.

Then we moved to the Embassy of Sudan, beginning today’s 9am-5pm vigil. It was only the first day of the fast, so everyone felt OK.


Note eroded lawn in lower right of picture.

Several journalists came by to talk to us and the embassy staff, probably because Sudanese Vice President and opposition leader John Garang died yesterday. The reporters were an eclectic bunch, and included a man from al-Jazeera who was in the documentary “Control Room.” Well, his hand was in the documentary–he’s holding a microphone that Donald Rumsfeld is speaking into.

Secret Service agents were hanging around all day, at least ten of them at one point. The Secret Service polices the embassies.

They went in to talk to the Ambassador, and returned with news: the Embassy wanted to invite dignitaries and ambassadors to sign a condolences book for Garang, but not if a bunch of guys holding signs about Darfur were there. Would we consider leaving for part of Tuesday?

No, we would not, but, via the Secret Service, we offered lots of other concessions, out of respect for the Ambassador and the mourning of the Sudanese. This wasn’t good enough for the Ambassador, who asked that we leave for a few hours on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon.

Again, we decided not to leave, but offered to move the vigil across the street at those times. The Secret Service agents were in the Embassy for a long time, finally emerging with word that the book signing was off.

Tom LewisThis hat, improvised from plastic bags, made Tom Lewis look like Dennis Hopper in “Apocalypse Now.”

A handful of other folks arrived to join the core group in demonstrating. We handed out lots of fliers, and everyone was supportive. One man visiting the Embassy said he’d been a general in Sudan in the old days, and had been imprisoned and tortured for five years after the government was overthrown. “They are committing genocide!” he shouted. “They’re killers! They’re killers!”

Late in the afternoon, a sign was posted by the door to the Embassy:

The Consular Section of the Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan in Washington, D.C. is closed.

Consular office will resume regular business hours on August 4, 2005.

Sign outside Embassy

The vigil and fast will continue. Also check out an article previewing the parallel fast in South Bend, Indiana, “Pair hope fast draws attention to Darfur”.

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3 Comments Leave a comment.

  1. On August 1, 2005 at 20:46 Jim Fussell said:

    Apparently the Embassy also shut it’s doors as the result of protests in August 2004. See:

    “Sudan: Embassy in Washington Closes Doors Over Darfur Protests

    allAfrica.com August 23, 2004 Staff Reporter Washington, DC

    Sudan’s U.S. embassy in Washington, D.C. closed Monday, according to its official Web site and a notice posted outside the embassy’s door.

    A sign reading, “Notice from the Embassy: This is to inform that the Embassy will be closed starting from Monday, August 23, 2004 until further notice” was posted in Arabic and English on the embassy’s front door.

    http://allafrica.com/stories/200408231536.html

  2. On August 1, 2005 at 21:16 Adam Villani said:

    Good job! Knowing that you’re making a difference has got to help keep you strong.

  3. On August 2, 2005 at 02:53 Jim Fussell said:

    Family News In Focus, CO

    August 2, 2005 http://www.family.org/cforum/fnif/news/a0037409.cfm

    Prayer And Fasting Against Genocide In Sudan
    By Bill Wilson

    Arab Muslims in Sudan have waged a war of genocide against Christians and others resulting in the death of an estimated 200 thousand to 400 thousand people. A small group of Christians is fasting and praying for peace outside the Sudan embassy in Washington , D.C. Scott Schaeffer-Duffy is in the group.

    “With my own eyes, I witnessed government troops and government-sponsored troops perpetrating some of the genocide. And certainly witnessed many of the victims in the camps for eternally displaced people, who testified to me that they had been driven from their homes by Sudanese army troops and Sudanese sponsored militias.”

    But hopes for a lasting end to the genocide were dashed with the unexpected death of Sudan ’s Vice President and chief peace negotiator, John Garang. United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.

    “Here is a man who lived and fought for peace and one united Sudan and just as he was on the verge of achieving what he lived and fought for, he is taken away from us.”

    Not only are the demonstrators petitioning God – Mike Benedetti from Massachusetts says they are also trying to influence embassy workers. .

    “Fasting, I think to purify our own hearts and our own intentions as a form of prayer. And demonstrating for an end to genocide in Darfur , hoping, you know, to persuade people, maybe some of the Sudanese folks in the embassy.”

    The small group intends to pray, fast and peacefully demonstrate for the next four days. Meanwhile, officials at the United Nations hope that the death of Sudan ’s Vice President does not cause even more conflict.

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