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NCC EXECUTIVE BOARD ASKS URGENT INTERVENTION IN THE SUDAN

Full Text of the Resolution Follows

May 18, 2004, CHICAGO, Ill. - Urgent intervention to stop the killing in Sudan was the call of the National Council of Churches USA Executive Board in a resolution adopted unanimously today during its spring meeting here May 17-18.

The Board committed the NCC and its member churches "to intensifying their efforts" to stop the apparent attempt at ethnic cleansing in Darfur, western Sudan, that already has claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced a million people, and that risks deepening to genocide.

It condemned the involvement of all parties perpetrating genocide in the Sudan and called upon the government of Sudan to bring an end to this practice immediately, including stopping attacks by its military and proxy militia against civilians in Darfur.

And it called on the U.S. government "to continue to press the Sudanese government to bring to a halt this unfolding horror and to support appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian, conflict resolution and peace enforcement efforts by the United Nations to these ends."

Today’s resolution also called upon the international community and non-governmental organizations to investigate and monitor reports of crimes against humanity being committed in Sudan.

Among those voicing passionate support for the action was Bishop Vicken Aykazian of Washington, D.C., Ecumenical Officer of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America. It is estimated that 1.5 million Armenians perished between 1915-23 in the Armenian Genocide, and that a million were deported forcibly.

"My family is victim of the first genocide of the 20th century," scattered to the far corners of the earth, said Bishop Aykazian. "I am very much concerned when I see that people in other nations now are being massacred as well - in Sudan, simply because they are black. Ten years ago, in Rwanda, in front of the civilized world, one million people were slaughtered. The same thing is happening now in Sudan. The NCC must take this very seriously and do something."

On April 23, the NCC sponsored an observance of the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide, held in Los Angeles and featuring Samantha Power, who won the Pulitzer Prize for her book "’A Problem from Hell’: America and the Age of Genocide."

She and other speakers noted that despite the world’s pledge to "never again" allow genocide, the world is not stepping up effectively to stop the killing in Sudan.

"Knowing the history of genocide in the 20th century, beginning with the Armenian Genocide through the Jewish Holocaust and ending with the Rwandan Genocide, we are appalled that this legacy of death and destruction should be carried into the 21st century," the Board stated.

Today’s resolution by the NCC’s Executive Board, whose 80 members are delegates from the Council’s 36 Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican member churches, reaffirms and extends the Board’s extensive 2002 resolution on the continuing crisis in the Sudan.

In today’s action, the Board also commended actions already taken by member communions and recommended that they prayerfully consider further actions that they might take, individually and together as the NCC, conducive to the establishment of peace in Sudan.

NCC General Secretary Bob Edgar urged U.S. churches not to let current preoccupation with Iraq, the elections, the Middle East and the U.S. economy distract them from action on Sudan. "This is an urgent moment," he said.

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TEXT: RESOLUTION ON THE CONTINUING CRISIS IN SUDAN
Adopted by the NCC Executive Board
May 18, 2004

The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has observed with great concern and foreboding the continuing crisis in Sudan. With reports coming in about thousands upon thousands of people being killed in an apparent attempt at ethnic cleansing, and one million forcibly displaced from their homes in the Darfur region of western Sudan, we fear we are watching the beginning of yet another preventable genocide.

Knowing the history of genocide in the 20th century, beginning with the Armenian Genocide through the Jewish Holocaust and ending with the Rwandan Genocide, we are appalled that this legacy of death and destruction should be carried into the 21st century. Therefore, the NCCCUSA and its member churches are committed to intensifying their efforts to stop the killing in Sudan.

We make this commitment cognizant of our calling as Christians, and of the Church’s mission, to actively participate in God’s sanctifying work in the world (Heb 3:14). Indeed, as churches walking together on the ecumenical journey, despite the theological differences among us, we are united in our belief that the Gospel of Jesus Christ calls us to be agents of healing and hope. Especially in the face of widespread death and destruction, as in the case of Sudan, as followers of the Christian Gospel we must pray that God will soften the hearts of those who make war, and demonstrate our faith in a loving God by upholding the dignity of each and every human being; bringing comfort to those who suffer; seeking justice for the oppressed; fostering reconciliation among peoples; and proclaiming peace to the world.

In 2002, the executive board of the NCCCUSA approved a resolution on the 20-year civil war in Sudan, calling upon the United States Government “to support the development and implementation of a multilateral Sudan policy through the U.N. system and regional initiatives that can facilitate an end to the conflict and the creation of a just peace for the Sudanese people.” This resolution also called upon the NCCCUSA’s member communions to engage in education, advocacy and other activities that would contribute to these same ends.

In light of this history, the NCCCUSA:

Reaffirms the 2002 resolution on Sudan and the principles upon which it was based;

Condemns the involvement of all parties perpetrating genocide in the Sudan and calls upon the government of Sudan to bring an end to this practice immediately, including stopping attacks by its military and proxy militia against civilians in Darfur;

Calls upon the international community and non-governmental organizations to investigate and monitor reports of crimes against humanity being committed in Sudan;

Calls upon US government to continue to press the Sudanese government to bring to a halt this unfolding horror and to support appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian, conflict resolution and peace enforcement efforts by the United Nations to these ends; and,

Resolves to undertake actions consistent with its policies to help end this crisis.

Also, the Executive Board:

Commends actions already taken by member communions, and recommends that they prayerfully consider further actions that they might individually take and that they might take together as the NCCCUSA, that are conducive to the establishment of peace in Sudan; and after such reflection, bring proposed actions before the executive board for consideration at the September meeting.

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Recommended Reading: Samantha Power, “A Problem From Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide (New York: Basic Books, 2002).

Media Contact: 212-870-2252; cfouke@ncccusa.org

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