AMID REPORTS OF ETHNIC CLEANSING, SUDAN ACTIVISTS REQUEST ESCALATED ACTION
Citing responsibility to protect, rights groups issue open letter to President Obama
CITIES NATIONWIDE – July 19, 2011 – Amid reports of government-sponsored aerial bombardment of civilians, summary door-to-door executions and evidence of mass graves in Southern Kordofan, 54 human rights and anti-genocide organizations in 27 states have issued an open letter to President Obama asking for limited military action to destroy carefully selected military assets of the government of Sudan. The organizations represent U.S. citizens and members of the diaspora from all parts of Sudan, including Darfur and the Nuba Mountains, and from the Republic of South Sudan. This letter is the first broad-based call by activists for a military response. The letter was also signed by leading genocide scholars, Eric Reeves, Samuel Totten and Daniel Jonah Goldhagen.
The letter states, “It is time for significantly escalated action by the United States consistent with the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, for both The Republic of South Sudan and the marginalized people of Sudan. Condemnations of new war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide are necessary, but not sufficient. We strongly believe that only concrete, escalated action will change the calculations of the government of Sudan and reverse the pattern of grave crimes, human rights abuses and humanitarian crises.”
According to the letter, “recent events in Darfur, Abyei and Southern Kordofan prove that the government of Sudan is continuing to use the same deadly methods that it has employed for years against its own people: attacking civilians on a broad scale with its army, militia, and air force; limiting and blocking humanitarian assistance to millions displaced by attacks; and focusing the attention of the west on negotiations that are not honored and the struggles of providing humanitarian assistance.”
U.S. State Department Special Briefing on the Current Situation in the Horn of Africa: July 19, 2011
QUESTION: Can I ask a Sudan question while we have Johnnie Carson here?
MS. FULTON: If you want.
QUESTION: There’s – I mean, there’s a letter going around today with a lot of activists talking about much tougher action against Sudan, including the possibility of drone strikes or cruise missile strikes to prevent ethnic cleansing going on in Southern Kordofan and Abyei, and I wonder if you’ve received these recommendations, whether you have any concerns about – what are your latest concerns about what’s going on in those two regions?
MS. FULTON: Would you indulge us?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Just —
MS. FULTON: Thank you.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: — very, very briefly, only to say that we remain very focused on Sudan and the need to encourage both parties, North and South, to complete all of the elements of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that have not yet been resolved. These issues are Abyei, they are also oil and transitional financial arrangements, they also include the need to resolve issues related to citizenship, and five, issues related to border demarcation. It is important that both sides resume their discussions as quickly as possible to move towards a resolution of all of these issues.
We also remain deeply concerned about the continuing violence that we have seen in Southern Kordofan, and we urge the Government of Sudan to move as quickly as possible to stop the violence that is being perpetrated by its soldiers, and to align itself, again, with its commitments under the global – under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
MS. FULTON: Thank you.
MR. STEINBERG: Can I —
MS. FULTON: Oh, yes.
MR. STEINBERG: — just comment very, very quickly? Because USAID is indeed launching, in a whole-of-government approach, a very aggressive response to the humanitarian crisis that we’ve talked about here with about 180,000 people driven from their homes, both from Abyei and from South Kordofan. We do, as Assistant Secretary Carson said, have a very serious access problem, and in – especially in the NubaMountains. And we have called aggressively, both bilaterally but also multilaterally, on the Government of Sudan to open up access to those regions, to allow humanitarian workers in, to, as Assistant Secretary Carson said, to cease the violence that is occurring now, and to reach a permanent solution to the question of the SPLM’s North role in that region.
MS. FULTON: Okay. With that, I’d like to thank our briefers and thank you, everyone, for joining us today.
Join the Global Hunger Strike for Darfur!
July 22 – 23, 2011 noon to noon
Speak out for the victims of genocide! On July 22nd, join Darfuris Against Genocide’s 24-hour global hunger strike to re-invigorate international engagement in Darfur.On July 9, 2011, the world recognized South Sudan’s independence from Khartoum’s brutal regime.
On July 22, 2004, this same regime was accused by Congress of committing genocide in Darfur. Seven years later, the protection of civilians remains unattainable as violent attacks against civilians, blockades of humanitarian access, systematic rape, brutal arrests and torture continue in Darfur. Join by visiting http://fastdarfur.org/ or attending the Hunger Strike Facebook Event.