July 25, 2014
What kind of an example is the US to South Sudan?

The internal conflict that upended South Sudan has been a source of sorrow and frustration for those who invested heavily in helping Southern Sudanese secure freedom and democracy.  This week at a press conference, US Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, Ambassador Donald Booth, noted, “The United States is by far the largest contributor of humanitarian assistance to South Sudan. This is one of the reasons the United States is determined to try to bring about serious peace talks.”

The United States has served as a friend, champion and mentor to South Sudan, but what kind of an example has it set since South Sudan gained its independence in 2011?  The United States Congress has not modeled respect, dialogue, compromise and cooperation among its members and with the Administration in order to best serve the interests of its citizens.  Our institutions of business and finance have become known for greed and corruption that have compromised our country’s integrity and security, while our entertainment industry produces a steady diet of violence that plays out in our school yards and college campuses.  Discrimination, intolerance and self-righteousness have taken the place of loyalty and goodwill towards our country and for each other.

While the responsibility for starting and ending the crisis in South Sudan lies squarely on the shoulders of South Sudan’s leaders and their advisers, the United States does have a role to play beyond applying pressure and providing aid that starts perhaps with acknowledging our own failures at creating a more perfect union and re-committing ourselves, as an example to South Sudan and for our own good, to becoming again, “one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” 

July 24, 2014
Bashir Must Go

7 years ago these little buttons were introduced…since then, Bashir has rigged national elections; intensified and expanded his war against the Sudanese people in Darfur, North and South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Abyei; delayed and obstructed implementation of the CPA including recognition of the referendum on Abyei; arrested, tortured and killed Sudanese who oppose his policies; ignored and violated Sudan’s constitution; flaunted the weaknesses of the international community by avoiding arrest while engaging in talks regarding debt relief; manipulated for his own purposes the agenda of the African Union and Qatar; promoted and facilitated the spread of extremism; fueled regional conflicts including South Sudan’s; bombed hospitals and destroyed places of worship; re-introduced deadly diseases by blocking humanitarian access to vulnerable populations; starved and intentionally neglected marginalized populations from the East to the West; and squandered international resources to support artificial peace talks and to respond to manufactured humanitarian and security crises.  Bashir must go.

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July 23, 2014
How Khartoum successfully neutralizes US Policy on Sudan through well-meaning US politicians and leaders

Subcommittee Hearing:  The Troubling Case of Meriam Ibrahim

Testimony at 2:27:30

Congressman Meadows unwittingly illustrates Omer Ismail’s point regarding the government of Sudan’s strategy for changing US policy on Sudan.  They are smart enough not to ask for sanctions or the terrorist designation to be removed, but they have managed to conduct meetings with a US Congressman and religious leader and to create enough of a relationship where a sense of “mutual trust and respect” is established and the hope is born that a relationship can be built that is of “mutual benefit” to both countries.    

Rep. Meadows:  Mr. Ismail, I want to come to you.  You said something earlier that said that your belief is the Sudanese is…they’re wanting something from this.  What basis…why would you say that?  So you’re saying the release would be predicated on Congress giving them something?

Omer Ismail:  Just a speculation on my side that some of the elements inside of the government might see this as an opportunity to gain something from the United States.  This government is desperate to get recognition especially from the United States because this is the country that is using all kinds of sanctions against it.  This is the country that designated this government to be a sponsor of terrorism and this is the country that is supporting international law in the sense that President Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court and so on and so forth.  So, and this is the country where we have a testimony like this from all these wonderful people who are trying to support this woman in need, and this support, I don’t see the support to Meriam Ibrahim only, there are a million Meriam Ibrahims in Sudan that are Christians, that are Muslim, that are practitioners of other faiths that are persecuted daily.  The women that were sentenced to 40 lashes or 50 lashes because they’re wearing pants or the women that were, without any kind of respect to the decency of human beings, were considered indecent in public and they were faced with all kinds of threats and harassment.  This is a case where the Government of Sudan is trying to see if they can – or at least some elements there – to see that…if we do this, what is it in for us.  We have seen from Naivasha and even before that when the negotiations for the peace agreement, when the negotiations for the secession of South Sudan, this government has always…is demanding something.  They create obstacles so that when they come and they release these obstacles, somebody would say, “Oh, they did this.  They are good, so let us reward them.”  And they do just enough to get this monkey off their back that is called the international community and they are not sincere in going the extra mile to make sure that they do this in good faith.  Every single step that they have done, be it negotiations with the rebels, be it, you know, letting the South go as they boast - it wasn’t because of them, it is because of the will of the people of South Sudan that they seceded that country.  So the government is willing to do everything including incarcerating people or detaining them by force or putting them in house arrest so that they can gain something out of it.

Rep. Meadows:  Well, let me comment on that because I’ve…we’ve met with some of the Sudanese officials here in Washington, DC as I know Mr. Perkins has and the relationship is one that I think any relationship has to be built on mutual trust and respect, but negotiating for Meriam’s release with financial or other concessions is not something that is on the table.  I think we’ve made that very clear. But I am hopeful that if there is a new day in Sudan that this can be the start – it may be very embryonic, but it could be the start of perhaps a new relationship built on where religious freedoms are not only held up but a relationship that is to both countries of mutual benefit.  But to negotiate because there is a woman in prison or being held or thousands of others for small incremental changes is not what this is about.

July 14, 2014
House of Lords: Human Rights in the Republic of Sudan

Today, Baroness Cox led a debate in the House of Lords on Human Rights in the Republic of Sudan.  She highlighted the Enough Project’s recent report on the RSF and she included information and recommendations from the recent SRRA report.  Specifically she raised the need for cross border aid and the implementation of sanctions.  
The debate is recorded here http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=15712  It starts at 19:32:55 and ends at 20:23:11 with the government’s response, which includes, among other things, consideration of sanctions and the delivery of aid through the church as recommended by the Bishop of Carlisle and notes that debt relief is not an option until Sudan’s internal conflicts are resolved while acknowledging that the government’s actions throughout the country are undermining its stated intention for national dialogue.
The debate by members of the House of Lords provides an excellent overview of current conditions in Sudan; and needless to say, we are so appreciative of Baroness Cox’s leadership and steadfast support for the people of Sudan.

April 28, 2014
"The UN Security Council is charged with maintaining international peace and security. UNAMID was meant to provide a modicum of security in the midst of a shameful, heartbreaking tragedy perpetrated by the Sudanese government. If the United States cannot use its position on the Security Council to ensure that UNAMID does its job, there is nowhere left to turn for the people of Darfur."

http://www.internationaljusticeproject.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CSO-UNAMID-Letter-to-Ambassador-Power.pdf

April 28, 2014
Statement Responding to Recent Atrocities and Violence in South Sudan | Humanity United

"We strongly condemn these vicious attacks against civilians,including at medical and religious institutions."

March 4, 2014
Five Years of Impunity: The Man Behind the Darfur Genocide Remains Free - Bashir Watch

March 2, 2014
Throughout My Travels, Glimpses of Hope

I’ve been a Sudan activist since 2003 when I met Mamer, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan who was concerned about the genocide in Darfur.  Together we celebrated the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and its promise of democratic transformation – a promise that was broken five years later as we witnessed rigged elections that were sanctioned by an indifferent international community and that guaranteed Southern Sudanese second class citizenship.  As a result, Southern Sudanese voted for independence; Mamer began to re-build his life in his new country; and I continued to support those in Sudan who struggle and suffer to establish the country envisioned in the CPA – a country “based on the free will of its people, democratic governance, accountability, equality, respect, and justice for all citizens.”

Read More

March 2, 2014
Throughout my travels, glimpses of hope - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan

December 10, 2013
U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan, Ambassador Richard Williamson

What I liked best about Special Envoy Williamson is that he was matter-of-fact and always operated from a clear set of values.  At the March 2013, Act for Sudan Emergency Action Summit, he acknowledged that while the Bush administration “over reached”, the Obama administration has “over corrected, where the Administration wants to disengage and retrench, which is another way to say, ‘we want to do as little as possible unless we feel politically compelled to act.’”  He reminded us of the independence of South Sudan and “what happens when the President of the United States does get engaged, and gets his Vice President engaged, and gets the Secretary of State engaged personally…it [became] critical for Bashir to recalibrate…and allow the referendum.”   Williamson asked, “is it too much to expect that type of commitment, as least every once in awhile, to move what is an ongoing humanitarian crisis?”  He went on to say, “the moral test of a foreign policy for the U.S. government is how a government helps the suffering, the voiceless victims and gives hope to the hopeless, and in Sudan, we failed the test.”  Williamson was the first government official to publicly debunk the value of Sudan intelligence on the war against terror, characterizing it as “not worth the spit on your shoes.”  He summed up how Khartoum outsmarts the U.S. and the international community with a strategy of “deny, delay, divert and replay.”  He explained, “so they deny what’s happening, violate humanitarian law by denying humanitarian access, and they create elaborate negotiations schemes, which are a diversion, and then they stretch it out in delays…then when they’ve played that string out, they start over again, and the death and the despair and the destruction continue.”  Williamson recognized President Obama’s commitment to a legacy of social justice and he urged activists to get the attention of the President, especially with the regard to the concept of accountability and the rule of law, which have been American driven, in order to stop the suffering in Sudan.  Williamson concluded his remarks by reminding us that “values should animate foreign policy…that’s what’s distinguishes America, that’s why [Obama] should engage - it is his responsibility, it is his opportunity, don’t let him off the hook.”  Washington needs more voices like Ambassador Williamson.  May he rest in peace.

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