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Reform Jewish Movement Applauds President Bush for Efforts to Combat Continued Violence In Sudan

Contact:Alexis Rice or Zach Rosenberg
202.387.2800

WASHINGTON, April 16, 2004 - In a letter sent to President Bush this week, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, commended recent efforts to end the atrocities currently being committed in the Darfur region of Sudan and encouraged the President to take all necessary action to restore peace to that war-torn nation. The complete text of the letter follows:

Dear President Bush:

On behalf of the Reform Jewish Movement, encompassing 1.5 million Reform Jews and 1,800 Reform rabbis in 900 congregations throughout North America, I write to commend your recent efforts to end the atrocities currently being committed in the Darfur region of Sudan and to encourage you to take all necessary action to restore peace to that war-torn nation.

As you are well aware, the situation in Darfur is a grave and growing humanitarian disaster. The government of Lt. General Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir and its proxies is perpetrating an all but unspeakable campaign of ethnic cleansing, genocidal attacks on civilians, as well as forced displacement, starvation and other atrocities. But, of course, we cannot let their acts be unspeakable; we must raise our voices, we must take action to end these horrors. The people of Sudan, who have already survived decades of religious and ethnic conflict between forces in northern and southern Sudan, should not be forced to suffer for decades more while the world turns a blind eye to their plight.

For this reason, we are pleased that you have shown leadership by speaking out against the situation in Darfur, and in doing so have sought to raise the conscience of the international community. We commend your efforts to encourage the Sudanese government in Khartoum to complete peace negotiations with the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). We also applaud the creation of a disaster assistance team for Sudan, under the auspices of USAID. In addition, as you are surely aware, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has set a fundraising target of $115 million to provide food, health care, and support for the more than 800,000 Sudanese people who have been displaced by the violence. We encourage you to support this and other efforts to provide needed funding for humanitarian relief work. We also urge you to pressure Khartoum to give U.S. and international relief agencies unhindered access to deliver immediate humanitarian assistance.

At the end of April, the U.S. must determine whether to impose sanctions on Sudan under the Sudan Peace Act of 2002, which bears your signature. We urge you to use this opportunity to further commit the United States to stopping the atrocities and make way for permanent peace in Sudan.

As the world commemorates the tenth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, and with the memory of the Holocaust forever in our minds, we thank you for your efforts on behalf of the people of Sudan. The world has seen time and again the dangers of inaction in the face of human suffering and the repercussions of failure by the international community to hold governments accountable for acts, both implicit and explicit, against their people. We share your hope that Sudan does not become yet another example of the world's indifference.

Sincerely,
/s/
Rabbi David Saperstein

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis(CCAR) whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis.

 



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