November 22, 2011
Dear Candidates for President of the United States of America,
We write to you as concerned Americans and Sudanese representing 55 organizations with members from every state across the country. We include national and regional human rights and anti-genocide advocates, faith-based groups, and members of the Sudanese diaspora.
Together we recently formed Act for Sudan, a national alliance of advocates working together to end genocide and mass atrocities in Sudan. Our advocacy is directly informed by the situation on the ground and by Sudanese people who urgently seek protection, justice, and peace.
At tonight’s debate, and during the ongoing campaign, we would like to hear what you would do, if elected President, to help the people of Sudan. We ask that your plans include prioritizing civilian protection and taking steps to change the ruthless political calculations of Sudan’s government led by the National Congress Party.
As we write this letter, hundreds of thousands of civilians in South Kordofan and Blue Nile face relentless aerial attacks, violent displacement, and starvation due to the Sudanese government’s ongoing military assaults. Residents of these areas are now also experiencing additional ground attacks as the rainy season has ended and the government has activated militias and ground equipment that were staged for deployment. Further, the government is denying humanitarian aid access to these vulnerable men, women and children as well as the IDPs who fled Abyei months ago. In Darfur, civilians continue their years of living in insecurity and under government oppression and attack.
We are deeply concerned and distressed by the Obama Administration’s current Sudan policy in the face of ongoing government-sponsored genocide that has spanned more than two decades and resulted in the death and displacement of millions of people. We believe the United States is not doing enough to uphold its responsibility to protect innocent civilians from atrocities perpetrated by the Sudanese government.
As a candidate, and if elected President, we ask that you will address the following urgent matters:
1. Civilian Protection. Accelerate decisions and related actions regarding protection of Nuba, Blue Nile, and Darfuri populations from air attacks. Please seriously consider the destruction of offensive aerial assets and/or (as long requested by the affected Sudanese civilians) imposition of a no-fly zone.
2. Humanitarian Aid. Immediately initiate a cross border emergency aid program to the Nuba Mountains, Darfur, Blue Nile and Abyei regions.
A reason for past failures to secure peace in Sudan has been a sequential approach to conflicts perceived as individual crises when the root causes are systemic. We, therefore, ask that your Administration would formulate longer term strategies to:
3. End Impunity; Support Justice
a. As the Government of Sudan has blocked almost all independent reporting from these affected areas, (a) lead the actions required to establish independent commissions of inquiry into the South Kordofan and Blue Nile attacks, as recommended by Ambassador Lyman, and (b) reconstitute the UN Panel of Experts on Darfur (or similar body) that reports on a regular, timely and unedited basis.
b. Lead effective international coordination to apprehend individuals subject to outstanding and any future International Criminal Court arrest warrants and actively support the work of the ICC.
c. Impose draconian financial sanctions against officials (and their associated businesses) responsible for attacks against civilians.
4. Secure Peace, Leading to Democratic Transition.
a. Refocus the disparate ongoing “peace” negotiations toward one comprehensive process including all marginalized populations and their concerns.
b. Provide tangible political, logistical and financial support for Sudanese organizations urging democratic reform, the rule of law and civil rights.
c. Coordinate the necessary regional and multinational support for internationally observed elections.
5. The Eradication of Slavery. Refocus attention on the tens of thousands of people still enslaved in Darfur, Kordofan and other areas of Sudan by committing to the eradication of government-sponsored slavery and making a focused effort to ensure that all remaining slaves be set free.
We look forward to learning more about your views.
Act for Sudan