NCC leader speaks to thousands at Darfur rally
New York City, September 18, 2006??Don?t let another day pass, another woman be raped, another child be starved, another man be butchered, another village burnt to ground,? said Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos at yesterday?s rally for Darfur in Central Park.
Dr. Kireopoulos, associate general secretary for international affairs and peace at the National Council of Churches USA, shared the stage with singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Olympic speed skater Joey Cheek and other entertainers, public officials and celebrities. An estimated 30,000 came to the East Meadow on the eve of the United Nations General Assembly session opening here today. Thousands more rallied yesterday at demonstrations worldwide.
?We say all these things to you, believing that the human race cannot bear another shameful day in the future when, looking back if we do nothing, all we will be able to say is ?never again.? Something we have said too many times before,? said Dr. Kireopoulos.
The U.N. is facing a decision about sending peace keeping troops into Sudan. African Union troops currently in Sudan have been told by the Khartoum government to leave by October 1. Without independent peace keepers it is feared continued genocide will wipe out more people in Darfur.
It has been estimated that a half million people have been killed by government sponsored militia in Darfur. Relief agencies say more than two million have fled villages and are living in refugee camps. Several NCC member churches have helped resettle Sudanese refugees throughout the United States.
The National Council of Churches USA is America's leading ecumenical voice of 35 member denominations of Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican, historic African American and peace churches with 45 million members in 100,000 congregations.
Complete text of Dr. Kireopoulos? speech follows.
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Remarks of Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, Associate General Secretary for International Affairs and Peace, National Council of Churches USA, at the Rally for Darfur, Central Park, New York City, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2006
Good Afternoon. My name is Tony Kireopoulos, and I am here on behalf of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, which counts as its members the Episcopal Church, the mainline Protestant Churches, the Orthodox Churches, the Historic Peace Churches, and the Historic African-American Churches, Churches to which many of you belong.
These Churches, representing 45,000,000 Christians in 100,000 congregations across the country, motivated first of all by the moral necessity to overcome violence and end the killing, and guided by the memory of one of our member Churches, the Armenian Orthodox Church, whose people were slaughtered in Turkey in the first genocide of the last century, are together united with all of you to end this genocide in Darfur.
As a member of the executive committee of the Save Darfur Coalition, I am gratified to see so many people here today, New Yorkers and citizens of the world, united with people in other cities in the United States and around the world today, to call upon the leaders of our various countries to get the United Nations peacekeepers into Sudan.
To all the presidents and prime ministers gathering in New York for the opening of the UN these days, we say Put diplomatic pressure on Sudan to allow peacekeepers in.
We say Enforce sanctions on Sudan to force Sudan to let peacekeepers in.
We say Commit troops to the UN peacekeeping force to save the lives of the people of Darfur
And we also say Don?t let another day pass, another woman be raped, another child be starved, another man be butchered, another village burnt to ground.
We say all these things to you, believing that the human race cannot bear another shameful day in the future when, looking back if we do nothing, all we will be able to say is ?never again.? Something we have said too many times before.
As Christians, together with Jews, Muslims, and Sikhs, and Hindus, and Buddhists, and people of all faiths, we join hands with you today, and we pray that the people of Darfur will find peace and security once again. Thank you.