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June 20th, 2008
New Arab Coalition Speaks Out on Darfur

The newly formed Arab Coalition for Darfur condemned the Muslim world for its silence on the atrocities in Darfur during the 35th Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), a meeting of the foreign ministers of 57 Muslim nations, which took place in Kampala, Uganda, from June 18-20.

“The Islamic world’s response to the daily killings and suffering of millions of Muslims in Darfur has been largely silent, from both civil society as well as the institutions and majority of Islamic governments,” the coalition said in a statement. “The Islamic world must decide to end its wall of silence, before it is too late.”

Formed in May 2008, the Arab Coalition for Darfur is made up of human rights groups from Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Algeria, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Mauritania, Kuwait, Palestine and Saudi Arabia.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni also chided the OIC for its inaction on Darfur. “It is hypocritical to concentrate on the Palestine crisis and pay little attention on the African conflicts involving OIC member states,” he said.

Despite the criticisms from the new coalition and President Museveni, the final report issued at the OIC bears no mention of Darfur, and calls for “solidarity with the Republic of Sudan.” The United Nations has accused the government of Sudan of war crimes, and the U.S. holds it responsible for genocide in Darfur.

The lengthier Kampala Declaration, also issued at the OIC, includes expressions of solidarity with “our Muslim brothers and sisters in Northern Cyprus” and “the Kosovar people,” and calls for “respect of the human rights of the Kashmiri people,” but does not express solidarity with the people of Darfur, who are also Muslim.

The declaration does call upon OIC member states to contribute to efforts to stabilize Darfur within the framework agreed upon by the government of Sudan, the United Nations, and the African Union.

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