Muslim groups: 'Arab League must act on Darfur'

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The Arab League must do more to address the killings in Darfur according to an appeal issued today (Friday) by an unprecedented coalition of Muslim groups. Embargoed until 00:01 28th March 2008

Muslim groups: \'Arab League must act on Darfur\'

The Arab League must do more to address the killings in Darfur according to an appeal issued today (Friday) by an unprecedented coalition of Muslim groups.

The appeal comes as Arab League Foreign Ministers meet in Damascus and
is contained in an open letter that was delivered to the Arab League
Secretary General Amr Moussa earlier this week.

Arzu Merali, Head of Research at the Islamic Human Rights Commission -
one of the organisations in the coalition - said,

\"Arab nations must take a stand to prove their claim that they are not
taking \'ethnic sides\' in the violence in Darfur. The voice of Arab
populations that have deplored the 200,000 deaths of Darfurians needs to
be heard by their governments and acted upon. Today we urge the Arab
League to act urgently to address the crisis by contributing more aid,
demanding an end to the obstruction of peacekeepers, supporting a real
ceasefire and promoting the peace process.\"

The coalition, comprises over twenty Muslim groups, includes many
international and national organisations such as Human Rights groups like Friends of Al-Aqsa and the Islamic Human Rights Commission; aid agencies including Muslim Aid and Islamic Aid and other Islamic groups from countries as diverse as Britain, Pakistan, Germany, Malaysia, Iran, Turkey, the US, Australia and Bahrain.

In the open letter the groups criticise the lack of attention paid to
the crisis so far saying, \"The crisis has cost the lives of at least
200,000 Muslims yet has not yet captured the attention of the Muslim world in the way that it should.\"

The coalition acknowledges that intervening in a member state\'s
internal affairs is difficult but the letter says; \"recognising the gravity of the situation, it becomes incumbent on organisations like the Arab League to find a viable solution, as it is quite clear that Sudan itself needs outside support.\"

The letter accuses the Sudanese Government of blocking the full
deployment of the UN peacekeeping force by placing \"many obstacles in its path\" and urges the Arab League to, \"call for an end to the obstructions on the deployment and call on those countries which have the capability to offer their own resources and manpower to support this for the protection of civilians.\"

The letter also calls on the Arab League to \"contribute much more to
the humanitarian operation\" and to \"put pressure on all sides to engage
honestly in the talks and encourage all sides to show flexibility.\"

In the wake of increasing attacks in the past month, particularly in
West Darfur, the letter also calls for the Arab League to speak out
against the violence; \"President Bashir has said he would consider a
ceasefire but we also know that many such ceasefires have been broken in the past. The Arab League as well as calling for a ceasefire should speak out against anyone, government or rebels who breaks it.\"


Editors notes:

For more details and interviews please contact:

English:
- Brendan Cox, Crisis Action on + 44 20 7269 9450 or + 44 7957 120 853
- Seyfeddin Kara, Islamic Human Rights Commission on + 44 20 8904 4222

Arabic
- Nadim Hasbani, + 324 8533 6372

Interviewees:
- Arzu Merali, Head of Research, Islamic Human Rights Commission,
English only
-
- Adam Tordjok, Darfuri Imam, English and Arabic
- Ishag Mekki, Darfuri Refugee, English and Arabic
-


The full copy of the letter with signatories is below:

Dear Secretary General,

We write as fellow Muslims from around the world to ask you to pay
urgent attention to the crisis in Darfur.

The crisis has costs the lives of at least 200,000 Muslims yet has not
yet captured the attention of the Muslim world in the way that it
should.

There are many ways the Arab League can discharge its responsibility to
help, specifically:

1) The Arab League can contribute much more to the humanitarian
operation in Darfur that is keeping 3.5 million people alive in a member state of the Arab League.

2) The Sudanese Government has agreed to the deployment of a UN
peacekeeping force but since that agreement has placed many obstacles in its path. As a result of this and the failure to contribute enough troops and resources, so far very few peacekeepers have been deployed and only a few Arab countries have offered substantial support. We urge the Arab League to call for an end to the obstructions on the deployment and call on those countries which have the capability to offer their own
resources and manpower to support this for the protection of civilians.

3) While peacekeepers are essential it will take time to deploy them
fully. To halt the killings now the Arab League can demand an immediate
ceasefire from all sides. President Bashir has said he would consider a
ceasefire but we also know that many such ceasefires have been broken
in the past. The Arab League as well as calling for a ceasefire should
speak out against anyone, government or rebels who breaks it. We are
sure you agree that the killings must come to an end now.

4) Finally, while all of these steps are essential none of them is
sustainable unless there is an inclusive and genuine peace process. Whilst the Arab League can not ensure this happens but they can put pressure on all sides to engage honestly in the talks and encourage all sides to show flexibility.

The suffering in Darfur is on a scale few of us can imagine. It is the
duty of all of us, from whatever background, wherever we are, to do
what we can to alleviate it, and we urge the Arab League to show good
leadership in this.

We understand the concern that discussions around Darfur suggest
external interference in the workings of a member state. However, recognising the gravity of the situation, it becomes incumbent on organisations like the Arab League to find a viable solution, as it is quite clear that Sudan itself needs outside support.

It is now time to speak with one voice, to help the needy, protect the
weak, stop the killings and build a new peace.


Signed:


Muslim Council Britain

Muslim Association of Britain

Friends of Al-Aqsa

Crescent International

Islamic Aid

Islamic Human Rights Commission

Muslim Aid

Federation of Student Islamic Societies

Woman\'s Rights Association Against Discrimination (Turkey)

Organization of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed People
(Turkey)

Bahrain Center for Human Rights

Australian Federation of Islamic Councils

Citizens International (Malaysia)

Organization for Defending Victims of Violence (Iran)

Arakan Rohingya (Germany)

Sufi Muslim Council

Muslim Bar Association of New York

Minhaj ul Quran International (Pakistan)

Minaret

British Muslim Forum

Jamiat Ahle Sunnat

Muslim Global Relief

Helping Hands

Faith Matters

Crescent Life


ENDS