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Darfur in the News

U.S. and European Media

July 31, 2023

Reuters: U.N. Resolution on Darfur Troops Nears Vote. The U.N. Security Council reached broad agreement on a draft resolution to authorize up to 26,000 troops and police for Sudan's Darfur region, with a vote anticipated this week. Britain and France distributed a fourth revised text late on Monday to be sent to governments of the 15 council members. A vote could be held as early as Tuesday or Wednesday on a combined or "hybrid" United Nations-African Union force, diplomats said. In remarks prepared for a Tuesday morning speech at the United Nations, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he hoped the resolution would be adopted later in the day. "We will work hard to deploy this force quickly ... but we must be clear: if any party blocks progress and the killings continue, I and others will redouble our efforts to impose further sanctions," Brown said. Parts of the resolution are under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which makes it mandatory. This includes taking "necessary action," a euphemism for the use of force, in self-defense of UN-AU personnel, to ensure freedom of movement of humanitarian workers as well as to protect civilians "under threat of violence without prejudice to the government's responsibilities." The resolution calls on member states to finalize their contributions to the new force, called UNAMID or the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur, within 90 days. UNAMID would incorporate the under-equipped and under-financed 7,000 Africa Union troops now in Darfur.

Voice of America: US Lawmakers to Step Up Economic Pressure on Sudan Over Darfur. House lawmakers designed the Darfur Accountability and Divestment Act to support the widening grassroots movement in the United States for states, cities and universities and mutual and pension funds to divest from or restrict investments in companies doing business in Sudan. California Democrat Barbara Lee is the bill's main sponsor and notes that, so far, 19 U.S. states, nine cities, and 54 universities have approved divestment measures. "Throughout our country, our constituents are standing up and demanding that their hard-earned money not be used to support a pariah government that is killing its own people," she said. Under the legislation, the Securities and Exchange Commission would compile a list of companies on the New York Stock Exchange with ties to Khartoum, prohibit them from receiving federal contracts, and make it legal to divest from such companies, removing the threat of lawsuits in the case of pension and other fund managers. Bipartisan divestment legislation regarding Darfur is also pending in the Senate, where a measure proposes to identify securities companies with more than one million dollars invested in Sudan's petroleum industry. So far this year, House lawmakers have also approved other measures urging China, and the Arab League, to use their influence with the Khartoum government to help stop genocide and violence in Darfur, and providing funds to help Darfur refugees living in camps in Chad.

The following story by Harvey Araton appeared in today's New York Times.

Good Guy Is Forgotten in Bad Week for Sports

In a little-noticed variation on a widely examined theme, a well-known sports figure stalked the authorities last week as opposed to the other way around. This time, a government played defense while the voice of the people was heard through the mouth of the athlete.

More than 42,000 signatures were delivered to the Chinese Embassy in Washington on behalf of an organization called the Save Darfur Coalition. He went to the front door. Put his finger to the bell.

“Yes?” a voice from the other side said.

“My name is Joey Cheek,” he said. “I am on the U.S. Olympic team. And I am here to deliver petitions that we have collected over the last week imploring China to continue to act strongly to protect the civilians in Darfur.”

That was last Thursday, when Michael Vick was in a Virginia courtroom, beginning his most vital scramble, trying to elude stomach-churning charges brought by federal prosecutors of sponsoring a dogfighting operation that a co-defendant said yesterday was mostly financed by Vick.

Cheek, the American speed skater who won the gold medal in the 500 meters at the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy, was holding his ground that day with a message — stop the slaughter in Sudan — to the host country of next summer’s Olympics in Beijing.

“Only you can come in,” the embassy gatekeeper told Cheek, instructing the coalition members with him, along with a Darfuri refugee named Daoud Hari, to retreat.

Clutching thick binders with signatures collected around the United States, Cheek waited as 5 minutes became 10, 10 became 20, 20 became 30. Just leave them, one of his colleagues suggested.

Not yet, Cheek said, and after more than a half-hour, the front door opened. Into the lobby, to a brief audience with embassy officials, he went to make his drop and propose leading a group of American and Chinese athletes on a trip to Darfur, the violence-racked region of Sudan, a country with which China wields considerable economic clout.

“They didn’t dismiss it,” Cheek said in a telephone interview. “They seemed interested.”

Granted, the timing of his embassy mission wasn’t good, if attention was the desired goal — not in a week when professional sport on so many levels was reeking of malfeasance, from one side of the Atlantic to the other. But shame on us if we can’t take a few moments to applaud Cheek’s patience, conviction and cause.

Today, in this space, the now hounded quarterback Vick, the home run antihero Barry Bonds, the suspected rogue N.B.A. ref, the chemically aided cyclists and even poor, misunderstood Michael Strahan must wait while Cheek explains why mixing politics and sport — specifically the international version — does not violate any sacred, time-honored code.

“The Chinese say, ‘Don’t politicize the Olympics,’ but that’s ridiculous,” Cheek said. “The only reason they wanted it was political, to prove they are a great power on the world stage.”

For the record, he does not support calls to boycott Beijing, only using the Games as leverage to move the Chinese government on Darfur. If his two Olympic experiences have taught him anything, it is that the Games — rampant commercialism and scandals notwithstanding — are as good a stage as any “to fight for an ideal that you believe in.”

More than his medals, Cheek is no doubt remembered for donating his 2006 Olympic prize money to a sport and humanitarian organization championed by Johann Olav Koss, the Norwegian speed-skating legend. For the standard post-Games period, Cheek was the face on the Wheaties box, America’s feel-good Olympian. He became a regular on the corporate speaking circuit, admittedly cashing in to fund a Princeton education he deferred for one year.

Retired from skating, Cheek resumed giving back, formed his own charitable campaign — called it “Where Will We Be?” — to galvanize Olympians and raise money to fund worthy causes.

He began by stepping onto the Darfur soapbox, but the more he learned about displacement and genocide, the more he couldn’t get off it. He spoke at a Washington rally with Barack Obama and Hollywood activists, targeting, in part, Bush Administration policy. He testified before Congress. He traveled to China, Egypt and the troubled area in Chad near its border with Sudan.

He would like to work with Ira Newble, the journeyman basketball player who last spring collected signatures from his Cleveland Cavaliers teammates on a letter to China protesting Darfur — absent, most notably, was the young superstar, LeBron James.

“Most Olympians are nowhere near that level of fame,” Cheek said. “But if it’s a choice between standing up for something I believe in or not because I’m worried about celebrity or money, it’s a no-brainer.”

If only that were the rule, not the exception, a breath of fresh air in the dog days of an uncommonly depressing sports summer.

The following is an excerpt from a column by James Morrison that appeared in today's Washington Times.

China still a target

As a U.S. Olympics gold medalist in speed-skating, Joey Cheek is not used to standing still. However, he waited patiently at the entrance of the Chinese Embassy for more than a half-hour to deliver petitions with 42,000 signatures, urging China to use its influence on Sudan to stop the genocide of the people of Darfur.

Finally, Chinese officials let him in to hand over the petitions, organized by the Washington-based Save Darfur Coalition. Cheek has long been active in raising money for Darfur refugees. He donated his $25,000 in award money from his 2006 Gold Medal to the Darfur cause.

The campaign to pressure China, the largest foreign investor in Sudan, did not stop with the petitions and a vigil outside the embassy last week.

"We absolutely are moving forward," coalition spokesman Allyn Brooks-LaSure said yesterday. "We have no intention of yielding in actions to get China to take more forceful actions."

The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not comment on the petition drive, but the Chinese Embassy in Britain complained after the coalition bought an ad in the London-based Economist magazine. The ad campaign, which also appeared in American publications, linked China's support for Sudan to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. The coalition is not calling for a boycott, as some news organizations have reported. It is highlighting China's role as host of the Olympics to urge it to assume greater leadership in Darfur.

Mr. Brooks-LaSure cited some press reports that said China, in its position as president of the U.N. Security Council, is trying to weaken a resolution to authorize U.N. peacekeepers to patrol Darfur, where Arab militias have been raiding African villages and killing civilians since 2003.

Mr. Brooks-LaSure called on China to end its policy of noninterference in the domestic affairs of other countries in the case of Sudan.

"China consistently uses its 'noninterference' policy as a shield from doing more to stop the suffering in Darfur," he said, adding that Sudanese President Omar Bashir is "all too happy to hide behind" it.


The Darfur Daily News is a service of the Save Darfur Coalition.  To subscribe to the Daily News, please email [email protected]. For media inquiries, please contact  Ashley Roberts  at (202) 478-6181, or [email protected].


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