December 12, 2011

Questions for 2012 Presidential candidates

Filed under Public Statements

December 9, 2011

Dear Presidential candidate,

On November 22, 2011, Act for Sudan sent you a letter expressing concern about the ongoing violence perpetrated by the government of Sudan against its own people. Act for Sudan is an alliance of over 55 U.S.-based organizations working to end the genocide and mass atrocities in Sudan and bring protection, justice and peace to the people of Sudan.

The situation in Sudan is dire, not only in Darfur, but particularly for the Nuba people and throughout the South Kordofan and Blue Nile regions. Aerial attacks are accompanied by the denial of access to vital humanitarian aid for hundreds of thousands of people. Strong leadership by the United States government is essential to end the violence, protecting civilians and bringing the perpetrators to justice.

Government-sponsored genocide has spanned more than two decades in Sudan, resulting in the death and displacement of millions of people. The United States played a leading role, working with NGOs, allies and other international partners, in forging the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The United States also played a leading role in ensuring that the January 2011 referendum and the subsequent independence of the Republic of South Sudan was relatively peaceful. Currently, the CPA’s promise of freedom and self-determination for all parts of Sudan is being held hostage by Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir. We in Act for Sudan believe the United States is not doing enough to uphold its responsibility to protect innocent civilians from atrocities perpetrated by the government of Sudan.

Act for Sudan looks forward to receiving your answers to the following questions about the Sudan policy you would pursue if elected President.

  1. Sudan Policy: If you have a statement on your Sudan policy, please provide a link that is publicly available.
  2. Civilian Protection: As President, how will your administration protect innocent civilians and address the government of Sudan’s ongoing brutality against its own people? Please explain your diplomatic strategy and indicate if you support the implementation of a No-Fly Zone, selective destruction of offensive military assets by drones or cruise missiles, or other civilian protection actions.
  3. Humanitarian Aid: The government of Sudan has hampered and restricted humanitarian assistance for years. It is now altogether blocking desperately needed humanitarian assistance for IDPs in South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Organizations such as Samaritan’s Purse have witnessed, or been victims of, violence perpetrated by the government of Sudan. Other aid organizations have either withdrawn from the region for security reasons or have been expelled by the government of Sudan. What will you do to facilitate aid reaching those who need it the most? Do you support a cross-border aid delivery program? If so, what steps would you consider the most critical? If not, what would you propose and how would you implement that option?
  4. Justice: In 2009 and 2010, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued warrants for the arrest of Sudan’s President, Omar al-Bashir, for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The ICC has outstanding warrants for other senior members of Bashir’s regime. Will your administration support the ICC’s efforts to implement these arrest warrants? How will that support be reflected in US policy towards Sudan and other countries?
  5. Peace Process: The Obama administration has been supporting the Doha peace process for Darfur and a separate process for South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Further, it has been hesitant to engage in a more comprehensive peace process with the newly formed Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) which unifies the major rebel opposition groups from Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan. Do you support the current approach or a more comprehensive process that includes all the marginalized people of Sudan? Building on the 2005 CPA, what diplomatic steps do you see as critical to create a comprehensive peace process leading to a lasting agreement between marginalized populations, rebel groups and government officials? Are there members of your foreign policy advisory team with experience in conflict mitigation, or the resolution of and advocating for justice in the wake of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide?
  6. Democratic Transformation: There is a growing movement inside Sudan (including the SRF) to promote democratic reform for Sudan. What resources will you commit to helping Sudanese organizations transform their country into a democratic, secular state?
  7. Freedom of the Press: The government of Sudan restricts press access, including preventing press coverage of conditions and attacks in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. In 2005, NBC News’s Chief Foreign Correspondent Andrea Mitchell was the victim of rough physical treatment by aides to Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir during a visit by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Many other journalists, especially local reporters and other observers, have been prevented from reporting at all, or are not able to report their findings in a timely fashion. Recently, the government of Sudan arrested Sudanese reporters, including reporters from Radio Dabanga. With freedom of the press embedded in our Constitution, what steps would you take to encourage or preserve this fundamental right of a free people?
  8. Terrorists and International State Sponsors of Terror: The leader of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, recently visited Khartoum, Sudan. Ahmadinejad and Bashir announced their increased partnership and continuing mutual support, including military cooperation. The leader of Hamas, Khalid Mishaal, recently visited Khartoum. Mishaal and Bashir announced their continuing strong mutual commitment and support. Sudan is recognized as a major delivery route for arms to Hamas. Iran is recognized as a major arms supplier to Hamas and to Sudan. What is your understanding of Iran’s expanding influence in Sudan and Sudan’s support for Iran and Hamas? What elements of your Sudan policy relate to Iran and Hamas? Under what circumstances should the US remove Sudan from the list of State Sponsors of Terror?
  9. Slavery: Thousands of people remain enslaved in Sudan. Their bondage is rooted in a number of issues, but among them are ethnic and religious persecution. What diplomatic or other measures do you believe are appropriate to address slavery in Sudan? Are you committed to the eradication of government-sponsored slavery and making a focused effort to ensure all remaining slaves be set free?
  10. China: China is a major supporter of Sudan. China buys roughly two-thirds of Sudan’s oil and has invested $7 billion in development/infrastructure projects. At the United Nations Security Council, China has also blocked or watered down strong statements and actions addressing the ongoing violence in Sudan. How would you engage China’s leaders to ensure that China uses its leverage with the Sudanese government to help end ongoing violence in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile?

Please respond prior to January 2, 2012. We believe that the specifics of your Sudan policy are an important addition to the national dialogue. Act for Sudan will share your responses with our alliance and publish them on our website.


Eric Cohen
Act for Sudan Co-founder

Download a copy of the letter here.

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