We are launching a petition to urge the US to keep sanctions on Sudan as a measure to end the longstanding genocide and to dismantle terrorist ties with the government of Sudan.
Lifting sanctions is the equivalent of enabling genocide. What does lifting sanctions mean? More trades, more investment, and more money will be in the hands of Sudanese government leaders, who have committed crimes of genocide against their own citizens and who have built strong relations with terrorism that also poses serious threats to US national security.
Background on Darfur- the longest genocide in history:
Towards the end of 2002, the government of Sudan began a genocidal campaign in Darfur. It started with the use Arab militias, the Janjaweed, and Sudanese Armed Forces targeting the indigenous people. Many of those targeted were from the Fur, the Massalete or the Zagawa tribes. The genocidal campaign appalling actions include burning villages and destroying food and water sources. They also kill innocents and rape women and girls. Mukesh Kapila, a UN representative in Darfur, has characterized the situation as "the worst humanitarian crises in the world."
By 2006, over 300,000 civilians, most of whom were women and children, had been slaughtered. Government soldiers continue to attack and to rape those who have survived. These soldiers utilize rape as a weapon of war and a method of terror and leave a trail of despair wherever they go. Millions have been forced out of their homes, with nowhere to go. Often, these people end up living in deplorable conditions, where they then against face attacks.
As a response, in 2004, the United Nations created an international commission of inquiry. The commission investigated and found that the government of Sudan had committed genocidal activities, and acknowledged that about 150 government officials were partially responsible for the crimes committed in Darfur. As the result of the investigation, in 2005, member states of the United Nations Security Council unanimously referred the case of Darfur to the International Criminal Court.
Simultaneously, the US, under President Bush's leadership, took a proactive approach by sending Secretary of State Colin Powell to Darfur on a fact-finding mission. Based on Mr. Powell's report, both the executive branch and the legislative branch of the US government declared the situation in Darfur as genocide in 2004. The US government called for an immediate end to the crises. They demanded accountability, and further authorized humanitarian assistance. However, the government of Sudan continued to obstruct and drain away any effort that was made to halt violence or bring peace to Darfur. To help resolve the crises, the US imposed economic sanctions on Sudan for the purpose of limiting Sudan government's financial resources. The condition of the sanctions requires that a verified change and significant progress toward peace, and accountability for perpetrators must take place before lifting sanctions.
In 2008, during the presidential campaign, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, Samantha Power (who at the time was Mr. Obama's Senior Campaign Advisor), and the then Senator Hillary used strong words to criticize the actions of the Sudanese government and to promise an end the genocide in Darfur. The affected communities, the advocates from the anti-genocide movement and the bipartisan members of Congress who have championed the cause from both side of the aisle, were very hopeful that, if elected, the Obama administration would do something to end the genocide in Darfur.
Unfortunately, after taking office, President Obama and his entire administration except for Susan Rice merely took a conciliatory approach to the regime in Sudan. The approach of the Obama administration resulted in the continuation and escalation of the violence. Without any action taken by the US or any other country in the world, the Sudan government extended attacks even beyond Darfur to South Kordofan and the Blue Nile region. We were very disappointed realizing that the Obama campaign's promises were just a ticket for their campaign trail. We were even more shocked at the thought that the US government would lift sanctions. Instead of condemning Bashir's actions it became apparent that the US would reward the regime that committed genocide, continued to kill innocent people and hosted Osama bin Laden.
Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir is currently wanted by the International Criminal Court for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in Darfur. He continues to carry out his genocidal policy with impunity because the international community has failed to bring him to justice. Consequently, the situation in Darfur continues to deteriorate. The fact is that in the last four years Darfur had witnessed escalations of violence, destructions and horrific damages on people's lives and livelihood.
President al-Bashir has used every effort to isolate Darfur including the prevention of international human rights agencies or journalists from obtaining information. Due to this, Darfur eventually dropped from the world's attention.
Some of you may think the crisis in Darfur has ended because it is not being reported in the news, but the truth is that over 460,000 Darfuris were displaced in 2013. In 2014, another 500,000 were displaced. And in the span of twenty-four hours on October 14, 2014, 221 women and girls were raped in Tabit village. Those who committed such a vile act have suffered no consequences. What happened to those 221 women and girls is not an isolated incident, but it is a systematic tactic and deliberate policy of the regime. In the first three months of 2015, 233,000 people were, and 2016 saw 400,000 people displaced. While declaring a false cease-fire, the Sudanese Armed Forces have massacred 13 people and over injured over 50 in Nertiti, West Darfur. Similar attacks took place in Elgeneina, the capital of West Darfur, as recent in June of 2017 The government has indiscriminately attacked over 20 villages in North Darfur where thousands have fled their homes and are still in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.
Recent Norwegian Aid released a report confirming the facts that there are over 4 million refugees in Sudan. Most of these refugees are Darfur genocide victims displaced for 14 years.
Violence is still inflicted on the Darfuris at an alarming rate. However, world leaders keep remaining silent and not taking actions to stop the genocide against our people. That is why we are appealing to you today.
Listen to the voices of the victims
Despite the unimaginable pain and suffering the people of Darfur continued to face, in his last week in office, President Obama announced his decision to lift sanctions against Sudan, even though the government of Sudan had not complied with the conditions set for sanction removal. The conditions were to end the genocide in Darfur, to hold perpetrators accountable, to open an unhindered humanitarian assistance, to disarm Janjaweed militias, to stop human rights abuse, to bring lasting peace to Darfur and Sudan at large, and to demonstrate valid evidence of cutting its existing ties with international terrorist organizations.
The disastrous results of lifting sanctions include providing Sudan with full access to international trade, giving Sudan access to foreign investment and to freely conduct international transactions. These results will increase the flow of currency and increase the amount of money in the hand of Sudan government to support further heinous crimes.
We and many other advocates, including members of Congress, have expressed outrage and opposed the US government's decision to lift sanctions against Sudan. President Obama and his former special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan presented fictional justifications for their decision. These justifications were not in line with the voices of the victims on the ground in Darfur or those who are speaking on their behalf or working to end the crises in Sudan know to be true. The Obama administration's justification was that sanctions would hurt the people of Sudan. However, the truth is that the government of Sudan is the only thing hurting the Sudanese people. The Sudanese government attacks the people of Darfur, Nuba Mountains, and the Blue Nile, the most productive and hardworking Sudanese people, who provided over 60% of Sudan's total food production and contributed to the national general income by over 70% in agriculture, livestock and gum productions before the crises. These three regions were the strongest professional and domestic labor markets in the entire country. Today they are sadly driven out of their homes, which make them entirely dependent on food aid for survival instead of being dignified breadwinners for their families and contributors to the workforce in their society.
As of today, millions of genocide victims are still in camps, facing a great deal of suffering, and are oppressed. Their fate is left to be decided by their killers: the rapid support forces who are in their full operating capacity to commit more atrocities and the government of Sudan led by the convicted international criminal President al-Bashir. Based on the international governing norms, the responsibility to protect is a primary responsibility of the nation's government, which means that the government shall safeguard and provide a conducive environment for all of its citizens and guarantee their lives with dignity regardless of ethnicity, religion, race or color. However, when a government targets its own citizens, such as the case of Darfur, the international community has the responsibility to provide protection for people facing systematic killing under the Genocide Convention, International Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights and humanitarian laws.
What we are asking is one of the least - keep sanctions on Sudan. Keeping the sanctions will limit the government of Sudan's ability to buy more weapons to kill innocent civilians, by limiting their access to international trade. Thus, if we can convince the US to keep sanctions on Sudan, we will help save many lives that otherwise will be lost.
That is why we ask for your support and your voice. And to reach out to others to add their voices as well so that we can make our cries louder to ensure that the Trump administration does the right thing by simply keeping the existing sanctions until we can build a sustainable and peaceful future for Darfur.
By signing our petition, you demand that US leaders confront and eliminate the horrifying act of genocide. We as human beings have a moral and ethical obligation to do whatever is in our power to stop genocide.
We have failed to do so in the past, and all humans bear the scars of ignorance. We ask you to think back to the mistakes of our previous leaders, who let so many innocents die through pure ignorance and help us ensure that humanity will never again have to suffer through another genocide.
Please show your support by signing and sharing with others. Together we can work to build a peaceful and sustainable future for the people of Darfur.
Click here to view our petition.
Thanks for your continued support! Sincerely, Niemat Ahmadi Founder and President
(c) 2017 Darfur Women Action Group