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Ellison, protesting Darfur, arrested outside Sudanese embassy

by Joe Bodell on April 27, 2009 · 2 comments

Congressman Keith Ellison has been arrested along with another member of Congress outside the Sudanese embassy while protesting the ongoing conflict in Darfur. From the AP report:

WASHINGTON (AP) – Eight activists protesting the expulsion of aid groups in Darfur have been arrested in front of the Sudanese Embassy in Washington.

Humanitarian leaders and U.S. lawmakers, including Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison and Maryland Rep. Donna Edwards, were led away from the embassy in handcuffs Monday after crossing a police line.

The activists are urging world leaders to take a stand against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s decision to expel 16 aid agencies from Darfur.

Ellison says it is wrong to deny aid to what he calls “the most vulnerable people on our planet.”

The United Nations says up to 300,000 people have died in Darfur, where ethnic African rebel groups have been fighting the Arab-dominated national government for six years. [Emphasis added]

We’ll try to get some information from Ellison’s office and update you asap. Here’s the statement from Ellison’s congressional office on the matter — no response just yet on an inquiry regarding the arrest…

Darfur Policy Statement

Today, I join with my Congressional colleagues and advocates from Save Darfur and ENOUGH to demand the Government of Sudan immediately take humanitarian action on the situation in Darfur.

The crisis in Darfur remains dire and the humanitarian situation has worsened since the March 4 expulsion of aid agencies.

We protest the expulsion of 13 international NGOs working in Darfur and against the closure of 3 Sudanese NGOs.

Together, these 16 organizations employ nearly 40 percent of the aid workers in Darfur — 6,500 national and international workers.

U.S. Special Envoy Scott Gration recently traveled to Khartoum and secured commitments from the Sudanese government to reverse the negative impacts of the NGO expulsions.

We encourage Khartoum to deliver on its promises to implement policy actions to end the deteriorating humanitarian crisis.

We implore all countries to demand that the Government of Sudan respect and protect human rights and put an end to the acts of atrocities and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

As Members of Congress, we will work to ensure sufficient funding for U.S. diplomatic efforts, bilateral peacekeeping support, U.N. peacekeeping operations, and development and humanitarian projects for Sudan in the FY2009 Emergency Supplemental and the FY2010 appropriation bills.

Actions in Minnesota

Lastly, let me conclude by saying that our actions today are a part of raising awareness about genocide during this, “Genocide Prevention Month.”

In my home state of Minnesota just yesterday, a rally was held at the state Capitol called “Day for Darfur: The Faces of Genocide” organized by state and local groups as part of the national campaign in remembrance of those who died; to protect the remaining survivors; and prevent such tragedies from happening in the future.


JacobGrippen April 27, 2009 at 9:50 pm

via Huffington Post

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

Five members of Congress and two Darfur activists had themselves arrested Monday outside the Sudanese embassy in Washington, D.C., to draw attention to the continuing humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan.

Uniformed Secret Service officers put plastic handcuffs on Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), John Lewis (D-Ga.), Donna Edwards (D-Md.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), along with Save Darfur Coalition president Jerry Fowler and Enough Project co-founder John Prendergast after the group stepped behind yellow police tape in front of the embassy.

Before being taken into custody, each of the arrestees addressed a small crowd of reporters and other activists who had been tipped off about the event. Each speaker called on the Obama administration to do more to stop the conflict in Sudan.

“Almost a half a million people have been killed,” said Rep. Lewis before crossing the line. “This terror, this violence must end and it must end soon.”

After their statements, the gang lifted up the police tape and waited patiently (and quietly) for the police to arrest them. An officer issued three warnings before the cuffs came out. Officers frisked each of the lawbreakers and went through their pockets before stuffing them in a paddywagon and a cruiser.

The group met Monday morning at the Religious Action Center before marching the short distance to the embassy. As they went over their plan, some of the members put their wallets and other personal belongings into plastic bags. Ellison took the extra step of removing his shoelaces. The Huffington Post asked Ellison if he’d been arrested before.

“Not on something like this,” he said.

The protesters had hired criminal defense attorney Laura Rhodes to get them out from behind bars. Rhodes seemed pretty confident in her game.

“For those of you anxious about going to jail, I’ve gotten people out who’ve killed people,” she said.

Minnesota Central April 28, 2009 at 7:41 pm

If Keith Ellison’s name wasn’t in the title, I would have thought that you were reporting old news.  

In May 2006 five Congressmen were arrested after a rally which was sponsored by the Save Darfur Coalition
At that time, the effort was to get President Bush to address the issue.
Speaking at the rally was “U.S. Senator Barack Obama, an Illinois Democrat, co-sponsor of the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act that would bring sanctions against Darfur genocide perpetrators; and U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, who recently led a bipartisan congressional delegation to Darfur.

Sad to say, but only the names have changed.

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