- Vice President Mike Pence
Don't Let the US Lift Sanctions Against Sudan
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We are launching this 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 makes 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 indicted 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.
- Vice President Mike Pence
- Donald Trump
I am writing this urgent message to you to share our concerns regarding the situation in Sudan. I ask that your Administration maintains sanctions on Sudan, as it would be an important first step our government takes to end the long suffering of the Darfuri people as the 14-year genocide continues alongside massive human rights abuses in Sudan.
We are gravely concerned about the ongoing violence, rape, arrests and torture that have devastated the lives of innocent civilians in Darfur. Countless men, women, and children have lost their lives, while the living endures unimaginable suffering with nowhere to escape.
President al-Bashir of Sudan stands accused by the ICC of the world’s worst crimes - genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Bashir in addition to his crimes against the people of Darfur, he has perpetrated multiple conflicts across Sudan. His regime continues to order the rape of its civilians, and as a result, thousands of women and girls face the most brutal and dehumanizing act of abuse. In most cases those who are targeted for rape are minors, constituting the worst violations of our morals and values in which America believes.
Moreover, President al-Bashir’s regime has reportedly used chemical weapons against the people of Darfur as recently as September 2016. Although documented by credible sources, the occurrence has not yet been investigated, victims have not yet been treated, nor has accountability taken place.
Furthermore, President al-Bashir has used starvation and the blockade of humanitarian assistance for years to kill more people in Darfur, the Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile region.
President Trump, Vice President Pence and Secretary Tillerson, as if this were not enough, President al-Bashir’s government continues its close connection with terrorist groups across the Middle East and Africa to destabilize the region. This, of course, threatens the national security of the United States and the international community.
As the crimes against the people Darfur, President al-Bashir has also ordered the destruction of churches throughout Sudan along with the arrest and torture of Christian minorities in Sudan. They are consistently forced into exile demonstrating a violation of religious freedom for Sudanese citizens. Al-Bashir’s regime continues to systematically arrest and torture human rights defenders, students, journalists and civil society leaders from Darfur and other conflict areas while restricting freedom of assembly, expression, and association.
To date, over 3 million victims of genocide, particularly in Darfur, are still without their homes and face the threat of death daily. Another million are displaced from South Kordofan and the Blue Nile region. Over 4 million people are without a home with no security or peace in place to allow them to return. The Janjaweed’s Arab militias, the notorious Rapid Support Forces, and the border guards are still in full capacity as perpetrators with total impunity of atrocities against innocent civilians.
The Sudanese government has recently presented a new false narrative in order to get away with its crimes. The government perpetuates the idea that the situation in Darfur has improved, even as several attacks against civilian have taken place and have been documented, including the massacre in January 2017.
The fact of the matter is that the Sudanese government is responsible for all the crimes including when to attack. Creating a false narrative that ignores protection and accountability for 4 million people is an additional crime, one which we cannot and must not tolerate
Given the current conditions on the ground, lifting sanctions will only reward and help the regime gain access to more financial resources, international trade and investments, which will help them purchase more weapons that endanger the lives of millions of civilians, many who are already under attack. In addition, rescinding sanctions will help the al-Bashir administration continue to support terrorist groups.
If the US lifts sanctions and ignores the above-noted facts, it would be a clear affront to the human rights’ norms that are enshrined in our American values. Lifting sanctions on Sudan will not only legitimize President al-Bashir and enable him to continue the slaughter of his citizens but will send a message to other criminals around the world that they will not be held accountable.
We believe that US engagement with Sudan must be built on the basis of protection of human rights, accountability, and sustainability. President Trump, now your administration can make this possible.
Accordingly, we urge you to stand with the genocide victims in Sudan and uphold US legal and human rights’ norms by implementing the following recommendations:
Maintain the existing US sanctions on Sudan until al-Bashir seize attack on civilians
Integrate targeted sanctions and impose a travel ban on individuals responsible for committing crimes in Darfur and across Sudan
Support the implementation of the arrest warrants against Sudanese criminals wanted by the International Criminal Court.
Pressure al-Bashir government to disarm militias committing atrocities in Darfur
Lead the UN Security Council in providing effective civilian protection in Sudan
Provide exception for Darfur genocide victims and other crises affected refugees from Sudan to be admitted to the US.
Provide support to the historically excluded and victimized communities in Sudan to rebuild their lives and bring sustainable peace in Sudan.
President Trump, Vice President Pence and Secretary Tillerson, the people of Sudan and the American public looks up to you to do what is right to end the suffering in Sudan. We thank you for your consideration.
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