WASHINGTON, D.C. – Minnesota’s 5th District Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison was arrested today, along with a handful of other congressional members, for crossing a police line outside of the Sudanese Embassy here during a protest against the expulsion of aid groups from Darfur.
In a statement released after the arrest, Ellison said that the group’s actions were part of an effort to raise awareness about genocide during Genocide Prevention Month.
“Today, I join with my congressional colleagues and advocates from Save Darfur and ENOUGH [Project] to demand the Government of Sudan immediately take humanitarian action on the situation in Darfur,” Ellison said in the statement.
The protest outside the embassy was focused on the expulsion of 13 international non-government organizations working in Darfur and against the closure of 3 Sudanese NGOs, according to Ellison’s office.
The group of lawmakers and activists spoke on the steps of the embassy here and were then asked to leave by police, according to the Save Darfur Coalition, an alliance of more than 180 faith-based advocacy and human rights organizations.
When the protest continued, they were arrested.
“The crisis in Darfur remains dire, and the humanitarian situation has worsened since the March 4 expulsion of aid agencies,” Ellison said in the statement.
Ellison was joined by Reps. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., John Lewis, D-Ga., Donna Edwards, D-Md., and Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., and Darfur activist leaders.
In 2006, seven members of the Congressional Black Caucus were arrested outside of the Embassy of Sudan, where they were also protesting atrocities in the country’s Darfur region.