On Aug. 1, Mohamed Suleiman, an American from Darfur, sent an open letter to President Obama, imploring him to change course on his approach to the genocide and humanitarian crises in Sudan or face a stained legacy and the condemnation of history. The letter, one of a series to be sent to the president by Sudanese people, conveys a personal plea that expresses dramatically the years of frustration experienced by the Sudanese people with President Obama's failed Sudan policies.
"When you were a senator and a candidate for president, you spoke often and strongly about America's responsibility to end genocide in Darfur," Suleiman wrote in his letter. "Upon your first election in 2008, as the President of the United States of America, many Darfuris named their newly born boys after you -- Obama. "
"Now, in the second term and fifth year of your presidency," he continued, "the elders, grandparents, and mothers, in the nights of Darfur, pass on the horrible stories of the genocide to the younger generations. [...] They tell how an American president who pledged to end the Darfur genocide instead stood by when President al-Bashir effectively ended humanitarian aid in Darfur, when civilians were killed by government forces and militias, and when the government re-initiated ethnic cleansing in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile."
He concludes, "Mr. President, I implore you to take the necessary actions to save the lives of Sudanese civilians not yet killed by their government. As you said in 2007, genocide is 'a stain on our souls.' Please don't let the Sudan genocide become a lasting stain on your legacy."
In 2007, Mr. Obama promised that "as a president of the United States I don't intend to abandon people or turn a blind eye to slaughter." Yet, according to Act for Sudan, a national alliance of American citizen activists and Sudanese U.S. residents, six months into his second term, President Obama's approach has failed to prevent the tragic loss of countless lives and the mass displacement and starvation of countless more innocent people in Sudan.
According to the national alliance, President Obama should immediately instruct the National Security Council to develop and implement a new pro-democracy and civilian protection-oriented policy on Sudan. The alliance maintains that unless President Obama acts now to protect innocent civilians from their genocidal government, he will ultimately be remembered for his stained legacy on genocide.
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that "since the beginning of 2013, more than 300,000 people have been forced to flee their homes" in Darfur, and over 1.2 million people are displaced in South Kordofan and Blue Nile with more than 220,000 seeking refuge in South Sudan and Ethiopia, in addition to 48,000 from Abyei who remain displaced in South Sudan.
Suleiman's letter will be followed by a series of letters from Sudanese people in the weeks and months to come, and all letters will be amplified via social media by Act for Sudan. Details on the campaign are posted here.