Often when I speak with people about the genocide in Darfur, I hear "that's so sad that there is nothing I can do about it." My breath catches every time. Not because I'm tiring of this excuse, but because I know it is not an excuse. People truly believe there is nothing we Alaskans on the other side of the world from Darfur can do to help. We Alaskans, as Americans living in the greatest democracy in the world, feel powerless to help the people of Darfur. I assure you all, we are not powerless! We are each the epicenter of power...an incredible power.
Before I became involved with the Save Darfur campaign, I had never once written, called, or emailed my state or national representatives. This activism thing is all new to me. I can't say I'm yet completely comfortable with it, but I simply cannot and will not tolerate genocide. It's genocide for pete's sake! As a child I could not understand how we as a country waited so long to help end the Holocaust, how people in America went about their lives without demanding more government action as other human beings were being brutally killed en mass.
I now know how. For three years, I heard bits and pieces about Darfur, and did nothing. I did my laundry, I worked, I grocery shopped, I watched Grey's Anatomy, but I never once made an extra effort to learn more and do more until about six months ago. I am ashamed it has taken me this long and I plan on wasting no more time. I truly believe that as an American I am one of the luckiest people in this world because I am free to speak out, free to ask more of my government on this issue, and free to do those two things as often as I need to to be heard.
Today I wrote Senator Murkowski and Senator Stevens to ask them to vote in favor of the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act. The Act would authorize states and local governments to prohibit the investment of State assets in any company that has a qualifying business relationship with Sudan. As Senator Sam Brownback put it, "We've said often 'never again' and taken up the pledge of 'not on our watch.' We also need to take up the pledge 'NOT ON OUR DIME.'"
President Bush doesn't want Congress to administer any new sanctions because he thinks there is progress towards reconciliation. I asked our Senators not to be as gullible as our president. After all, just today the Sudanese government and their militias attacked a Darfur town -- the town controlled by the only Darfur rebel group to sign a 2006 peace deal!
Unlike President Bush, I don't want to wait and see, because what I think I'll see is just more of the same...evil brutality. I also don't want my money going toward prolonging this genocide. I want Alaska to divest our state pension funds and the permanent fund, and I want the right of states to divest to be beyond question. Please write, call, or email Senators Murkowski and Stevens to vote in favor of the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act. Exert your power, my fellow lucky and powerful Americans!!