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Acting for Sudan Faith McDonnell November 8, 2011
IRD’s Church Alliance for a New Sudan is now a member of a new, exciting alliance of activists dedicated to stopping genocide and mass atrocities in Sudan. Act for Sudan only announced its creation on October 28, 2011, but already our alliance is shaking up the status quo of Sudan policy in Washington. On November 3, we released an open letter to President Obama with an accompanying press statement.
In the late 1990s, IRD was a co-founder and co-director of The Sudan Coalition, organizations working together until the mid-2000s to strengthen U.S. policy to stop Omer al-Bashir’s genocidal jihad against South Sudan, the Nuba Mountains, and Blue Nile. The composition of the coalition was one of its most striking, effective elements, and helped us achieve such victories as The Sudan Peace Act, the appointment of Sudan Special Envoy John Danforth, more strategic distribution of U.S. food aid through channels other than the UN’s Operation Lifeline Sudan, and mass divestment from oil companies doing business with Sudan. The Sudan Coalition included advocates and activists from across the political spectrum. Protestant and Catholic Christian ministries and Jewish groups, liberal and conservative secular organizations, and Sudanese refugees were all included. One reporter joked after a congressional hearing that “he had whiplash” from looking from Right to Left so often.
Our new Act for Sudan alliance is similarly striking. At present, the alliance contains 46 member groups from across the United States. Some members began their advocacy as activists for Darfur but have widened their scope to embrace all of Sudan’s marginalized people, as such groups named “Darfur and Beyond” and the “New York Coalition for Darfur and All Sudan” suggest. Darfuri, Nuba, Beja, and Sudan-wide organizations also are participants. We expect our alliance to continue to grow.
There is no time to waste. The Khartoum regime of ICC-indicted war criminal Omer al-Bashir began slaughtering Sudanese civilians in the Nuba Mountains/South Kordofan on June 5 of this year. I have written about this extensively in articles for Front Page Magazine. To summarize, Khartoum’s armed forces, aided by militias and others, have been systematically conducting a campaign of ethnic-cleansing and extermination in the Nuba Mountains:
Regular aerial bombardment has killed many and sent hundreds of thousand into the Nuba hills seeking refuge in caves.
Islamist militias conducted a door to door search looking for Nuba with orders from al-Bashir to “sweep out the trash,” whenever they find a Nuba to “clean it up.”
Actor George Clooney’s Satellite Sentinel Project, has evidence of mass graves from some 7000 people that were rounded up at the UN compound by Sudanese government collaborators. They were sent to an arena and massacred.
To add to the nightmare, Khartoum began attacking another region, Blue Nile State, in September. Unknown numbers of men, women, and children have been killed and tens of thousands have been displaced, even as the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North, Sudan’s resistance movement, fights to protect the people and maintain territory. The people of Blue Nile and the Nuba now face starvation in government-orchestrated famine. Sudan’s rainy season has ended and Khartoum has resumed land attacks in addition to aerial bombardment. Although Congressional hearings have outlined the critical need for action, the Obama Administration has limited its response to tepidly denouncing the “alleged” atrocities and urging both sides to stop fighting.
There is another reason why there is no time to waste. Sudan’s marginalized people, from every corner of the country, and many of the northern Arab Sudanese want the experience of “Arab Spring.” Right now we have an opportunity to empower the Sudanese people in bringing freedom, peace, and secular democracy to their country. The Sudanese, and we activists along with them, wonder why the US government would force a Mubarak out of Egypt, but will not force the indicted war criminal al-Bashir out of Sudan. They wonder why the West would bomb Libya and support “freedom fighters” that have recently killed black, African Libyans, and now want to impose Shariah on the country, but will not stop Sudan from bombing its own people, and support true freedom fighters that would bring to reality Dr. John Garang’s vision of a New Sudan with peace, equality, and non-Al Qaeda-related, non-Muslim Brotherhood-related democracy.
I hope that you will join us in this new advocacy campaign for Sudan. Act for Sudan will provide you with many opportunities for action. The people of Sudan need your prayers. They also need your voice, your emails, your tweets on Twitter, your Facebook posts, and whatever other creative ways you can act for Sudan.
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