April 1, 2014

Letter to President Obama: April, 1 2014

Filed under Media & Press

Download the pdf of the letter here

April 1, 2014

The Honorable Barack H. Obama
President, United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC  20500

Dear Mr. President:

We urge you to adopt and immediately implement a new pro-democracy and civilian protection-oriented policy on Sudan that holistically addresses the root cause of Sudan’s multiple conflicts: the repressive and genocidal Sudan regime.

In 2007, you said that genocide is “a stain on our souls” and promised, “As president of the United States, I don’t intend to abandon people or turn a blind eye to slaughter.”

However, under your leadership, the current U.S. policy on Sudan has failed to prevent the tragic loss of countless civilian lives and the mass displacement and starvation of countless more innocent people. The U.S. policy on Sudan must change in order to change the political calculations of the government of Sudan.  Without a shift in U.S. policy, the suffering of the people of Sudan will surely continue, and, we fear, your presidency will ultimately be remembered as one stained by genocide, much as President Clinton’s legacy is stained by the genocide in Rwanda.

We implore you to do more to provide strong leadership to end the government-sponsored violence and protect civilians in Sudan, ensure unhindered humanitarian access for those in need, and bring the perpetrators of genocide and mass atrocities to justice at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Over the years, you have made many statements — as senator, presidential candidate and president — emphasizing the importance to the United States of acting to stop mass atrocities.  You have repeatedly stated that the U.S. must take an active role in helping to end the genocide in Darfur.  As early as 2004, you recognized that a great deal of pressure needed to be placed on the Sudanese government to change its behavior.  In 2006, you emphasized that not enough was being done to protect people and stop genocide in Sudan.  In 2006, you declared that Darfur was “an important test case” for the United States and noted not only the humanitarian imperative, but also national security interests of the U.S., in acting to stop the genocide.  Every year as president, you have made statements in January for International Holocaust Remembrance Day and in April for Yom HaShoah committing to prevent and end atrocities, often resolving to ensure “that never again is more than an empty slogan.” As president, in 2009 and 2012 you promised to do “everything we can to prevent and end atrocities.”  In 2011, you formally established as U.S. policy that “preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States of America” and ordered the creation of the Atrocities Prevention Board.

Unfortunately, your actions and those of your Administration do not live up to your words.

In October 2009, the State Department announced your new Sudan policy.  Its three principal objectives were to (1) end the Darfur genocide, (2) implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), and (3) ensure that Sudan does not become a safe haven for terrorists.  None of these objectives has been met; in fact, the underlying conditions have worsened.

Upon adoption of the ill-fated policy, you stated:

“Going forward, all of our efforts must be measured by the lives that are led by the people of Sudan. [Emphasis added.] After so much suffering, they deserve a future that allows them to live with greater dignity, security, and opportunity.  It will not be easy… .  But now is the time for all of us to come together, and to make a strong and sustained effort on behalf of a better future for the people.” 

Your aims and hopes for U.S. policy on Sudan policy were stellar, but the results have been a failure, including by your own measure, and the U.S. has not done “everything we can to prevent and end atrocities” in Sudan.

A few facts illustrate how completely U.S. policy has failed the people of Sudan.

In 2009, Sudan’s President Bashir expelled 13 international humanitarian aid agencies (approximately 60 percent of the capacity) from Darfur without criticism by the U.S. or the international community.  To this day, that humanitarian aid capacity has not been restored.

In 2011, the NCP renewed its ethnic cleansing campaigns in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan and Blue Nile areas, with ground attacks, frequent bombings, and killings, resulting in near starvation conditions for hundreds of thousands, and one million people displaced internally or across the border.

Security in Darfur has deteriorated significantly, in villages and in IDP camps, and aid workers have been attacked and killed.

In 2013 alone, 460,000 Darfuris were displaced, and in the first three months of 2014, over 215,000 were newly displaced (each, according to U.N. estimates).

In 2014, the government of Sudan expelled the ICRC and ACTED from Darfur.

Now, in 2014, Sudanese government-supported Rapid Support Forces are on the rampage in Darfur, a reprise of the notorious and deadly Janjaweed militias. Dozens of Darfuri villages were destroyed, and tens of thousands of newly displaced civilians have been prevented from entering Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps.

“Genocide by attrition” (starvation, thirst, disease and lack of humanitarian aid) continues in the IDP camps in Darfur, in the Nuba Mountains, and in Blue Nile. Delivery of humanitarian aid is restricted or altogether blocked by the government of Sudan.

Civil liberties—freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and the rights of women – continue to be denied by the Sudan government and its security forces across Sudan.

Sudan provides safe haven for Mali jihadists and facilitates shipment of weapons from Iran to Hamas and Hezbollah.

Your administration has frequently expressed grave concerns regarding actions by the government of Sudan, but has pursued a policy of engagement, employing conciliatory diplomacy rather than confronting the regime in Sudan with consequences for genocide and crimes against humanity.  Despite the attention of multiple Special Envoys, the U.S. policy has failed.  Over the years, Sudan’s President Bashir and the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) have learned that there are few or no real consequences for their actions, there are no consequences for breaking commitments, and there is no action beyond condemnation in response to continuing and expanding mass atrocities and genocide.

We respectfully request that you adopt a new Sudan policy that would begin to achieve the objectives set in 2009 and would support with actions the words you have spoken so eloquently over the years.

Specifically, the U.S. should:

1.  Deliver sufficient humanitarian aid to starving and ill Sudanese civilians in the Nuba Mountains/South Kordofan, Blue Nile, Darfur and Abyei with or without agreement from the government of Sudan or the U.N. Security Council, with multilateral partners or unilaterally, and with the means necessary to deliver it to the people in need and with the urgency required to save starving and ill people.

2.  Build the capacity of Sudanese groups on the ground to become partners in humanitarian relief, including working with groups aligned with the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF).

3.  Not only enforce all current U.S. sanctions, but also oppose debt relief and cash transfers to the government of Sudan, discourage investments in Sudan and trade missions to Khartoum, and work to increase economic pressure on Sudan both unilaterally and multi-laterally, thereby strengthening the effects of U.S. sanctions.

4.  Support an end to the NCP’s control of the government of Sudan and support the movement within Sudan for democratic transformation. This support need not require the deployment of U.S. forces, and involves less risk than that taken when the U.S. supported regime change in Libya and less risk than the current U.S. support for regime change in Syria.

5.  Support the SRF who are under attack by their government, are fighting for regime change, and are united with a vision for a democratic, secular, inclusive Sudan and a program for democratic transformation.

6.  Work with governments that are members of the ICC to arrest the perpetrators subject to warrants and bring them to justice.

In conjunction with negotiating an end to the violence in South Sudan, lead a multilateral effort to complete implementation of the CPA to eliminate the open issues as flash points for Sudan/South Sudan conflict.

Mr. President, when your legacy on human rights, genocide and mass atrocities is written, let it not be said that you failed to prevent “never again” from happening again and again in Sudan.  Please do not leave a legacy stained by genocide.  Please do not abandon the people of Sudan.  Instead, please uphold your commitment to end genocide and mass atrocities and help pave the way for a future Sudan that is democratic, inclusive, secular, and at peace with itself and its neighbors.



Act for Sudan
Martina Knee, Co-Founder
San Francisco, CA USA

Abyei Solidarity Group (UK & Ireland)
Paul Muortat, Chairman

Aegis Trust
Professor Mukesh Kapila,
Special Representative

African Freedom Coalition
Al Sutton M.D., Founder
New York, NY USA

African Soul, American Heart
Debra Dawson, President
Fargo, ND USA

AFSC Wage Peace
Stephen McNeil, Director
San Francisco Wage Peace
San Francisco, CA USA

Ahmed H.Adam
Visiting Scholar
Program on Peace-Building and Rights
Co-chair of the Two Sudans Project
Institute for the Study of Human Rights (ISHR)
Columbia University
New York, NY USA

Armenian Assembly of America
Bryan Ardouny, Executive Director
Washington, DC USA

Arry Organization for Human Rights
Osman Naway, General Director
Kansas City, MO USA

Blue Nile Association For Peace And Development 
Omer Abdelsawi Omer
Mulberry, FL USA

Brooklyn Coalition for Darfur & Marginalized Sudan
Laura Limuli, Coordinator
Brooklyn, NY USA

CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center
Kiel Majewski,
Terre Haute, IN USA

“Change the world. It just takes cents” TM 
Sara Kaine Kornfeld, Founder/Educator
Denver, CO USA

Christian Solidarity International – USA
Pastor Heidi McGinness, Director of Outreach
Denver, CO USA

Richard D. Clark, Ph.D.
Director, Peace, Justice and Human Rights Program
John Carroll University
University Heights, OH USA

Collectif Urgence Darfour
Dr. Jacky Mamou, Chairman

Colorado Coalition for Genocide Awareness and Action
Roz Duman, Founder/Director
Denver CO USA

Community Empowerment for Progress Organization
Edmund Yakani, Executive Director

Myra Dahgaypaw
Hunter College
New York, NY USA

Darfur Action Group of South Carolina
Richard Sribnick, MD, Chairman
Columbia, SC USA

Darfur and Beyond
Cory Williams, Co-Founder
Phoenix, AZ USA

Darfur Human Rights Organization of the USA 
Abdelgabar Adam, Founder/President
Philadelphia, PA USA

Darfur People’s Association of New York 
Motasim Adam, Vice President
Brooklyn, NY USA

Darfur Interfaith Network
Martha Boshnick, Co-Chair
Washington, DC USA

Darfur Relief and Documentation Centre
Abdelbagi Jibril, Executive Director

Darfur Women Action Group
Niemat Ahmadi, President and Founder
Washington, DC USA

Darfurian Association of Greater Houston
Suliman Awadalla, Officer
Houston, TX USA

Khalil “Haji” Dokhanchi
Professor, Political Science
University of Wisconsin – Superior
Superior, WI USA

Mia Farrow

Dear Sudan, Love Marin
Gerri Miller, Founder and Coordinator
Tiburon, CA USA

Genocide No More–Save Darfur
Marv Steinberg, Coordinator
Redding, CA USA

Genocide Relief Project
Lee Ann De Reus, Co-Founder
Hollidaysburg, PA USA

Genocide Watch
The International Alliance to End Genocide
Gregory H. Stanton, President
Arlington, VA USA

Georgia Coalition to Prevent Genocide
Melanie Nelkin, Chair
Atlanta, GA USA

The Harry Potter Alliance
Andrew Slack, Executive Director/Co-Founder
Somerville, MA USA

Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust
The Baroness Caroline Cox, Chief Executive
and Member, House of Lords, Parliament of the United Kingdom

Humanity Is Us
Kimberly Hollingsworth, Founder
New York, NY USA

Human Rights and Advocacy Network for Democracy (HAND)
Abdalmageed S.Haroun
Brooklyn, NY USA

Idaho Darfur Coalition
A.J. Fay, Co-Founder
Boise, ID USA

The Institute on Religion and Democracy
Faith J. H. McDonnell
Director, Religious Liberty Program and Church Alliance for a New Sudan
Washington, DC USA

International Justice Project
Katie Flannery, Program Director
Newark, NJ USA

Investors Against Genocide
Eric Cohen, Chairperson
Boston, MA USA

Italians for Darfur
Antonella Napoli, President

Jerusalem Center for Genocide Prevention 
Elihu D Richter MD MPH, Associate Professor
Jerusalem, ISRAEL

Jewish World Watch
Michael Jeser, Executive Director
Los Angeles, CA USA

Jews Against Genocide
Eileen Weiss, Co-Director
New York, NY USA

Joining Our Voices
Slater Armstrong, Founder/Director
Baton Rouge, LA USA

The Honorable David Kilgour
Former Canadian Secretary of State
for Africa and Latin America
Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA

Living Ubuntu
Barbara English, Executive Director
Newport Beach, CA USA

Long Island Darfur Action Group
Nancy Walsh, Coordinator
Farmingdale, NY USA

Beth Woskow McDaniel
JD, South Texas College of Law
Houston, TX USA

The MagkaSama Project 
Max Dana, Founder

Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur
William Rosenfeld, Director
Boston, MA, USA

Moro Association of United States  
Daldoum D. Angelo, Chairman
Kansas City, MO USA

Never Again Coalition
Diane Koosed and Lauren Fortgang, Co-Chairs
Portland, OR USA

New York City Genocide Prevention Coalition
Staci M. Alziebler-Perkins, Convener
New York, NY USA

New York Coalition for Sudan
Neiki Ullah, Communications Director
New York, NY USA

New York Darfur Vigil Group
Helga Moor, Coordinator
New York, NY USA

Nuba Mountains Advocacy Group
Gogadi Amoga, Co-Chair
Batavia, OH USA

Nubia Project
Nuraddin Abdulmannan, President
Silver Spring, MD USA

Pittsburgh Darfur Emergency Coalition
David Rosenberg, Coordinator
Pittsburgh, PA USA

Hawa Abdallah Mohammed Salih
Recipient, 2012 U.S. Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award
Philadelphia, PA USA

San Antonio Coalition Against Genocide
Susan Smylie, Coordinator of Advocacy
San Antonio, TX USA

San Francisco Bay Area Darfur Coalition
Mohamed Suleiman, President
San Francisco, CA USA

Shine a Ray of Hope
Carmen Paolercio
New Rochelle, N.Y. USA

Robert Skloot, Ph. D.
Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, WI USA

Society for Threatened Peoples
Sharon Silber, US Director
New York, NY USA

South Sudan Health Care Organization 
Timothy P. Page, M.D., Chairman
Birmingham, MI USA

Stop Genocide Now
Gabriel Stauring, Executive Director
Redondo Beach, CA USA

Nikki Serapio, Director
San Francisco, CA USA

The Sudanese National Rally of Philadelphia, PA
Dr. Ali Dinar, President
Philadelphia, PA USA

Sudan Advocacy Action Forum
Eleanor Wright PhD, Moderator
Birmingham, AL USA

Shakir Abdelrasool, Chairman
Louisville, KY USA

Sudan National Democratic Forum
J. Magoub, Executive Office
Santa Clara, CA USA

Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Agency |SRRA
Hashim Orta Adaw, Deputy Executive
Blue Nile State, SUDAN

Sudan Unlimited
Esther Sprague, Director
San Francisco, CA USA

Temple Ahavat Achim
Lakshmi Linda Sirois, Chair,
Darfur Social Action Committee
Gloucester, MA, USA

Unite for Darfur Organization
Bahar Arabie, CEO
Gaithersburg, MD USA

United to End Genocide
Thomas H. Andrews, President
Washington, DC USA

Use Your Voice to Stop Genocide RI 
Sandra Hammel, Director
Portsmouth, RI USA

Voices for Sudan
Jimmy Mulla, President and Co-Founder
Washington, DC USA

Waging Peace
Rebecca Tinsley, Founder

John H, Weiss, Ph.D.
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY USA

World Without Genocide at William Mitchell College of Law
Ellen J. Kennedy, Ph.D., Executive Director
St. Paul, MN USA

Adeeb Yousif
President of Africa Working Group (AWG)
School for Conflict Analysis & Resolution (S-CAR)
George Mason University
Arlington, VA USA