Citizens of Darfur who have been forced out of their homes and into refugee camps are aware and appreciative of the efforts Americans are making on their behalf, Darfuri Liaison Officer Niemat Ahmadi told the crowd at Tree of Life/Or L’Simcha on Oct. 12.
From North Darfur, Ahmadi promotes cooperation between the The Pittsburgh Darfur Emergency Coalition and the Darfuri diaspora within the United States and abroad. She has testified about war crimes in Darfur at the U.N. Security Council, and was at a recent meeting with International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Campo in New York City.
The PDEC sponsored her Pittsburgh appearance with additional support from Tree of Life Congregation, the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Jewish Committee and Global Solutions Pittsburgh.
Ahmadi “spoke about how the democracy effort was appreciated,” said David Rosenberg, coordinator of the PDEC. “She said the refugees were encouraged by the efforts that are being made at this end of the world.”
She told the audience at Tree of Life/Or L’Simcha about the importance of expediting the criminal judicial proceedings against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur, and for calling “those responsible for genocide into account,’” said Rosenberg.
Earlier in the day, Ahmadi addressed the third-through sixth-graders at Temple Emanuel of South Hills Religious School, telling the students about the lives of Darfuri refugees.
Ahmadi’s visit coincided with the kickoff of Pittsburgh’s participation in the national Tents of Hope Campaign. Fourteen local organizations, including Tree of Life/Or L’Simcha Religious School, Rodef Shalom Congregation, Temple Emanuel of the South Hills, and Temple Sinai, Temple Emanuel of South Hills have purchased, pitched and decorated tents on their respective premises in an effort to raise awareness of the genocide continuing in Darfur. Although many of the Pittsburgh tents have been pitched indoors, a few, including those of Temple Emanuel and Temple Sinai are displayed outside.
The Tents of Hope Campaign will culminate with a rally Nov. 9, when hundreds of these tents from all over the country will be erected on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
“We’re hoping to get 300 tents on the Mall,” said Rosenberg. “We’ll be bringing 12 from Pittsburgh.”
“It should be quite a sight,” said Rabbi Jessica Locketz, associate rabbi and temple educator at Temple Emanuel.
The tents, which are similar to those used by the refugees for sleeping, will eventually be shipped to Darfur where they will be used as classrooms, Locketz said.
On Oct. 27 the Pittsburgh City Council will issue a proclamation “in honor of the tents effort,” said Rosenberg. “One of the tents will be put up on the portico of the City-County Building.”
(Toby Tabachnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)