One day before the scheduled opening ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, Jewish World Watch (JWW) hosted a vigil outside the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles to urge the Chinese government to act on behalf of Darfur.
More than 100 members of JWW, including activists and representatives from 60 Los Angeles area synagogues, rallied today to ask the Chinese government’s to help stop the ongoing genocide in Darfur.
Organized by JWW Co-Founder and President Janice Kamenir-Reznik, the event featured speeches from U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters (35th-CA), Rabbi Joshua Grater of Pasadena Jewish Temple, Haig Hovespian of the Armenian National Committee of America, Pastor Samuel Chu of Immanuel Presbyterian Church and Rabbi Ari Leubitz of Bnai David Congregation. To open and close the ceremony, Rabbi Ahud Sela of Sinai Temple blew the shofar to signify a call to action.
The gathering at the Koreatwon facility aimed to call attention to the responsibility China has to the world as a country, world leader and Olympic host. “We can’t transcend national boundaries while hundreds of thousands of people are killed. It becomes a sham,” Reznik said.
China is currently the chief diplomatic sponsor and largest foreign investor to the Sudan. It is also reportedly supplying arms to Sudan, for use in Darfur, in breach of a United Nations arms embargo.
Since 2003 close to 400,000 civilians in Darfur have died as a result of violence, disease and malnutrition. As one of Sudan’s largest oil exporters and closest allies, China has opposed continuous efforts to enforce international sanctions on Sudan.
Addressing the consulate directly, Hovespian said “You have an opportunity to take pride in yourselves in your nation for doing the right thing.” As the speeches concluded and marching began, protestors repeated, “Never again; never again.”
For the past six months, Jewish World Watch has held monthly vigils outside the Chinese Consulate as part of the four-year-old organization’s efforts to bring attention to the problems in Darfur. Other projects include helping fund medical clinics to aid Darfurian refugees, sending backpacks with educational, health and hygienic supplies, and providing solar cookers to minimize trips for firewood outside refugee camps. Reznick told the group that the Torah tells us “not to stand idly while blood of others is shed.”