Damanga is a new organization that works on human rights and advocates for peace and democracy in Darfur and Sudan. Mohamed Yahya, Damanga’s volunteer Executive Director and one of Damanga’s founding members, is the Chairmen of the Representatives of the Massaleit Community in Exile (RMCE), a human rights Group that was founded in Egypt by Yahya and others in 1995 to alert the world of the abuses unfolding in Western Sudan. Mr. Yahya and Damanga’s other founding members have established Damanga to expand upon the human rights work and support efforts undertaken by RMCE in the past.
As a student living in Cairo in 1995, Mohamed Yayha started to receive first hand reports of the terrible crimes that were being committed by the Sudanese government and its Janjaweed pro-Arab militias. It quickly became apparent to Mohamed Yahya that Sudan’s NIF Regime was engaged in a policy to rid Western Sudan of its Black African ethnic population. Mohamed Yahya and other Sudanese students living in Cairo sought to alert the international community of the humanitarian crisis that had begun to unfold in Western Sudan so they started an organization called the Representatives of the Massaleit Community in Exile (RMCE). Since that time the RMCE has been dedicated to ending the human rights abuses perpetrated by the Sudanese government against the people of Darfur.
RMCE’s founding members came form many different ethnic Sudanese backgrounds including the Massaleit, Fur, Dajo, Zagawa, Bargo, Gimir, Tama, Berty, Barno, Meme, people from the Nuba Mountains, South Sudan, and other parts of Sudan. Believing that the pen is mightier than the sword, the members of the RMCE sought to protect the people of Darfur through peaceful means such as advocacy and education. With no financial resources, Mohamed Yayha and other members of the RMCE began this work by writing reports and circulating them, on foot, to all the Embassies in Cairo, Egypt. Their first major open letter to the international community was distributed in this way in 1995 and within weeks of its distribution it was widely referenced by the international community, including the UN General Assembly Publication. Kofi Annan has often quoted this letter in his speeches. In this way the RMCE was the first group to alert the world to the genocide that was unfolding in Darfur. Since this time the RMCE has been working relentlessly, and with no outside funding, to continue distributing the information it receives from those living in Darfur, and the refugee camps in Chad, in order to focus attention on the continuing atrocities unfolding daily in the Sudan.
Working in Cairo with the office of the United Nations High Commission of Refugees (UNHCR), RMCE was also able to sponsor nearly 95% of refugees fleeing Sudan. Mohamed Yahya helped ensure that these refugees received political asylum and resettlement in many countries around the world, including the USA and Canada, Europe and Australia. In 2002, fearing reprisal from the Sudanese government for the humanitarian work that he was doing, Mr. Yahya decided to apply for political asylum to the USA. He has continued to lead the RMCE and advocate for the people of Sudan while in exile in the USA. The Damanga Coalition of Freedom and Democracy was founded to expand on the work of RMCE here in the USA.