Sudan: Activists Urge Action Against Darfur Atrocities


5-25-05, 11:05 am

US activists released an open letter to President Bush at a press conference Tuesday (May 24) calling for specific and immediate actions to stop ongoing atrocities in the Darfur region of the Sudan. The press conference was hosted by US-based Africa Action, a national organization focused on human rights issues related to Africa. Three UN Security Council resolutions passed earlier this year condemned the Sudanese government’s role in the atrocities, ordered tightening of sanctions, establishing a peace-keeping mission, and referred war crimes to the International Criminal Court because of the Council’s belief that the Sudanese government would fail to properly prosecute war criminals.

Since the Bush administration described the atrocities as genocide last year, it has reestablished friendly relations with the Khartoum government, promised $1.7 billion in aid, is fostering intelligence ties through the CIA, and has characterized the Khartoum government as an ally in its faltering 'war on terrorism.'

Africa Action spokesperson Mvuselelo Ngcoya described the Bush administration’s new-found friendship with the Sudan as 'disturbing.' Robert Zoellick’s visit to Khartoum in early April signaled the administration’s backtracking on its earlier Sudan position. According to Ngcoya, while in Khartoum, Zoellick 'blatantly refused to call (Darfur atrocities) genocide.' At best, he was 'ambivalent' and 'evasive' because, as Ngcoya puts it, the administration is 'trying to curry favor' with Khartoum.

To prop up faltering efforts in the administration’s 'war on terror,' Bush seems willing to back away from its responsibility to make a substantial effort to stop ongoing activities it once described as genocide.

Despite the new period of friendship with Khartoum, human rights organizations such as the Sudan Organization Against Torture continue to report arbitrary arrests, political repression, and violence against refugees, often committed against children, by government soldiers in Nyala, Darfur.

IRIN News agency reports continuing humanitarian crisis fueled by growing refugees, food shortages, and violence in southern parts of the Sudan.

To read the open letter go to Africa Action.

--Reach Joel Wendland at