Central Park Rally Protests Genocide In Darfur
Michael Brown  /  Getty Images file
Khalid Yousif attends a rally with thousands of people in Central Park to call for the immediate deployment of U.N. peacekeepers to protect the innocent victims in Darfur, Sudan in New York City in Sept.
updated 10/20/2006 11:32:39 AM ET 2006-10-20T15:32:39

Survivors of genocide, from the Nazi Holocaust to Rwanda, called on Friday for European Union sanctions to stop the Darfur conflict, saying so far the EU has done almost nothing to stop mass killing in western Sudan.

“I didn’t survive a Nazi concentration camp to sit back while genocide is repeated,” said Holocaust survivor Martin Stern, one of 120 people to sign an open letter to EU states.

“Europe can play a leading role in stopping this slaughter but it has to act now,” he added.

Violence worsening 
Sudan is resisting international pressure to allow 20,000 U.N. troops to replace African Union peacekeepers in Darfur, where 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced in a three-year-old conflict.

The underfunded and badly equipped AU mission expires on Dec. 31 but so far there is no agreement on what will happen after that date.

In the meantime, violence in Darfur is worsening with government troops and allied militias, as well as rebels, blamed for new attacks.

Aid workers say their access is severely limited by fighting, and some have warned the humanitarian situation could deteriorate to levels seen in 2003 and 2004 when U.N. officials called Darfur the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

‘At a critical time’ - urging action now
Survivors from the Nazi Holocaust, Cambodia, Bosnia and Rwanda signed an open letter to EU leaders meeting in the Finnish town of Lahti on Friday, urging EU sanctions on the Sudanese government.

“We write to urge you to act now to end the genocide in Darfur,” it said. “Through the European Union you have the capacity to put real pressure on the Sudanese Government to stop the killing. But so far the EU has done next to nothing.”

British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s spokesman said Blair urged his fellow EU members to send a strong message to the Sudanese government that it must allow a U.N. force into Darfur.

“We are at a critical time in Darfur,” Blair’s spokesman said. “This is an opportunity for the EU to underline the pressure on the Sudanese government.”

Asked about the possibility of sanctions against Sudan, he said: “Privately, they know very well the consequences in terms of the country but also the leadership.”

Targeted sanctions
The letter called on the EU to implement a U.N.-authorized no-fly zone over Darfur and to apply concerted pressure on Sudan to stop killing civilians and accept a U.N. force.

It also called for targeted sanctions in the form of asset freezes and travel bans on those responsible for rights abuses and for Brussels to set a date for EU-wide trade sanctions if the Sudanese did not respond to the pressure.

U.S. President George W. Bush last week signed a law imposing sanctions on those responsible for genocide and war crimes in Sudan.

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