At 3 a.m., I received an email from my colleague and dear friend, Mohamed. Usually calm and measured in his communication, Mohamed raged in his email against the Obama administration and its Sudan envoy, Princeton Lyman, for their complicity in supporting the brutal regime of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur. The subject line of the email was "U.S. Sudan policy is killing us."
Now living in the United States, Mohamed is from the village of Umbarow in Darfur. Members of Mohamed's family were killed in the Darfur genocide. His village of Umbarrow was burned and destroyed by the government of Sudan and its proxy militia, the Janjaweed. His mother and siblings still live in Darfur.
In Mohamed's homeland, al-Bashir and his National Congress Party are the architects of an ongoing government-sponsored genocide that has spanned more than two decades and resulted in the death and displacement of millions of people. Its targets have included the tribes of Darfur, South Kordofan, Blue Nile, Nubian North, Beja East, and South Sudan. Currently, the situation is particularly dire throughout South Kordofan and Blue Nile where government-sponsored aerial attacks are accompanied by the denial of access to vital humanitarian aid for hundreds of thousands of people.
"Sometimes I just wonder if the president and men and women around him are made of stone. Or if they have lost that moral compass inside their hearts," Mohamed wrote. "There will be NO peace with al-Bashir and his regime in power."
While the United States has recently condoned the ouster of brutal dictators in Libya and Syria, and supported opposition groups in those countries, it has adamantly refused to take sides in Sudan. Recently, the U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan Princeton Lyman gave an interview to the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, where the special envoy said the following:
"Frankly, we do not want to see the ouster of the [Sudanese] regime, nor regime change. We want to see the regime carrying out reform via constitutional democratic measures."
However, with a decades long track record of genocide, any cursory review of the facts makes abundantly clear that Sudan's regime has no intention of reforming itself by democratic measures. Sudan's dubious track record also includes innumerable broken commitments made at countless negotiating tables.
"Why are the lives of our loved ones expendable in exchange for appeasement of a genocidal regime???!!" Mohamed wrote. "Could somebody scream in the ears of Ambassador Lyman that the U.S. Sudan policy is NOT working for the oppressed but working for the oppressor? The regime in Khartoum is broken beyond repair or reform."
In his email, Mohamed cites a short list of atrocities committed by the government of Sudan in just the past two weeks:
- In Darfur: Intensive areal bombings carried out in North and South Darfur, especially in the areas of Abu Karinka and Jawgan. In Al Lait Jar Al Nabi locality, in North Darfur, bordering Adila and Ed Daein in South Darfur, bombing was reported on December 29 from morning until midday. Air strikes were also reported last week killing three members of one family.
- In Blue Nile: On December 27, air strikes and heavy artillery were reported in Bao locality, Blue Nile state, killing 84 residents including 24 children.
- In South Kordofan: There are reports that the Sudanese air force bombed areas south west of Dilling county in South Kordofan on December 22.
- In South Sudan: On December 29, at least 17 people, mostly civilians, were killed in Western Bahr el Ghazal State, following an aerial attack allegedly carried out by Sudan.
For those who follow events in Sudan, the list above is eerily similar to those of so many other weeks. Yet there continues to be no action taken by the U.S. government or the international community to prevent more deaths, displacement and starvation. There has also been very little coverage by the mainstream media. Contrast this situation with Syria where the U.S. is weighing options for increasing pressure on the Assad regime and the media is rightly giving the situation front page coverage.
Mohamed works tirelessly in efforts to bring an end to the years of genocide in Sudan in addition to his demanding full-time job. He is one of the co-founders of Act for Sudan, a bipartisan, multi-faith, alliance of 55 American and Sudanese advocacy organizations across the country who advocate for an end to genocide and mass atrocities in Sudan.
Recently, Act for Sudan coordinated an open letter to President Obama signed by 66 organizations asking the United States to urgently address civilian protection and humanitarian assistance. It also worked together with international organizations to deliver a petition to Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and members of the U.N. Security Council, and issued a questionnaire to Republican president candidates regarding their proposed Sudan policy if elected.
Still, in spite of this dedicated activism, the Obama administration seems blind and deaf to the ongoing genocide in Sudan. In Mohamed's words, "It is morally wrong to keep millions of Darfuris in the IDP camps for almost a decade, Nuba Mountain people trapped in the caves, Blue Nile people refugees in another country (Ethiopia) away from their homes. We see clearly this administration has made its choice. Yet history is taking notice."