by Faith J. H. McDonnell
Mohamed Suleiman, an America citizen since 1992, is a Zaghawa from the village of Um barrow in the North Darfur region of Sudan. Um barrow, like so many other places in Darfur, was burned down and destroyed by the Sudanese government-backed Janjaweed, an Arab-Islamist militia. A refugee camp near Um barrow became the home to as many as 13,000 people displaced by the Janjaweed and the Sudan Armed Forces. This is just one of many refugee camps, housing millions of displaced Darfurians. Many members of Suleiman’s family have been killed in the Darfur genocide, and his mother and siblings still live in Darfur.
Recently, Suleiman sent an open letter to President Barack Obama. The letter launched an August campaign by Act for Sudan, a coalition of individuals and organizations from across the political spectrum working to stop the genocide and mass atrocities against Sudan’s marginalized and persecuted populations by the government of ICC-indicted war criminal, Omar al Bashir. Conservatives and counter-jihadists, as we know, continually condemn and warn of Obama’s penchant for supporting Islamists and not true freedom-loving resistance movements. But some members of Act for Sudan have willingly put aside their own political preferences in this public call out to President Obama for letting down the Sudanese people, demonstrating that they care more about stopping genocide than they care about their political preferences.
The Act for Sudan Obama’s Stained Legacy campaign reminds President Obama of the promises he made about Sudan, quoting his own words back at him. “While campaigning for the presidency,” says Act for Sudan, “Mr. Obama said that genocide is ‘a stain on our souls’ and promised that ‘as a president of the United States I don’t intend to abandon people or turn a blind eye to slaughter.’” Act for Sudan expresses disappointment with Obama’s failure to follow through on those promises, his failure to act on ongoing multiple genocides perpetrated by Sudan’s jihadists against the black, African Sudanese in Darfur, the Nuba Mountains, and Blue Nile regions. Today, “more than four years into his presidency, President Obama continues to oversee a disastrous approach to the ongoing genocide in Sudan,” says Act for Sudan. “This approach has failed to prevent the tragic loss of countless lives and the mass displacement and starvation of countless more innocent people. Unless President Obama ACTS NOW to protect innocent civilians from their genocidal government, he will ultimately be remembered for his stained legacy on genocide,” Act for Sudan warns.
Suleiman’s letter will lead the way in the campaign for a series of letters from Sudanese representing the regions of Sudan that are – and have been for many years – under attack by the Islamist regime in Khartoum. The attacks are part of a repeatedly-declared genocidal jihad that first targeted1 South Sudan and the Nuba Mountains/Blue Nile regions, resulting in the death of some 2.5 million people. The purpose of the jihad is, and always has been, to establish an Arab Islamic hegemony by eradicating both the Sudanese Christians and the indigenous black, African Muslims.
In his letter to Obama, Suleiman writes of the great anticipation that Obama’s words once created in the suffering, beleaguered Darfuri:
When you were a senator and a candidate for president, you spoke often and strongly about America’s responsibility to end genocide in Darfur. 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. Darfur people, in their tradition, name their children after the dearest people in their lives or a person that made a significant change in their lives for the better. They were very optimistic that you were the one who would stop the first genocide in the new millennium, the genocide in Darfur.Then Suleiman describes the current feeling of abandonment and betrayal of the Darfurians:
Today, in the summer of 2013, millions of Darfuris live, or are more accurately simply existing, in wartime conditions you really cannot imagine. They feel abandoned by you and America. One expressed the desperation of the men, women and children there saying, “We have no choice other than to fight to the death.”Obama’s failure to make good on the promises he made while campaigning for the presidency – and was condemning President George W. Bush for “reckless and cynical” negotiating with Khartoum – has deeply disappointed his supporters who also care about Sudan. The President’s lack of action on Sudan became more and more unfathomable to many as the “Arab Spring” took place. Sudan activists observed the Obama Administration taking action, when it came to Egypt and Libya, and not taking action as a literal slaughter took place in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile State. Not only not taking action, but censuring the civilians’ only defenders – the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/North.
Now, in the second term and fifth year of your presidency, the elders, grandparents, and mothers, in the nights of Darfur, pass on the horrible stories of the genocide to the younger generations. They pass on the fact that the world chose to accept and tolerate those who have committed the crime of genocide. 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. They cannot understand that you, a two-term president, may leave office with a legacy of failing to stop the Darfur genocide and failing to bring any of the responsible criminals to justice.
The Obama Administration seems to believe that, at least for its staunch supporters, impassioned speeches about Sudan and the creation of South Sudan (for which all the groundwork was laid during the Bush Administration) is enough to ensure a shining legacy for President Obama. But, writes Suleiman:
If you do not adopt and promptly implement, together with U.S. allies, a revised comprehensive and coordinated policy toward Sudan, your legacy will forever be tied to failing to stop the genocide in Darfur.For many people, Obama’s legacy is already a legacy of death – whether from economic policies that are dividing and bankrupting the nation; violations of conscience and religious freedom; ever-increasing restrictions on free speech; continuing erosion of the military; foreign policies that have resulted in Benghazi and Morsi, and opened the hell-gates a little wider en route to the establishment of a global caliphate; or the actual intention behind all of those policies – the fundamental transformation of America. To those people, if they consider it at all, Obama’s failure to keep his promises on Sudan is part of the same pattern. To those who believed in Obama, it may be a game-changer. But to many of the people of Darfur, Nuba Mountains, and Blue Nile State, it is a death sentence.
Twenty years from the day you leave office, any time new mass graves are uncovered in a remote village in Darfur, your legacy will turn, in the books of history, into a legacy of death.
Fifty years from now, it will be incomprehensible to those who will learn the history of genocides that you sat as an American president for two terms, and allowed al-Bashir, the mastermind and executioner of the Darfur genocide, the first sitting head of state indicted by the International Criminal Court for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, to continue to commit these terrible crimes. History will remember that you failed to stop the killing, displacement, rapes and other destructive consequences called genocide by the U.S. Congress and by you.
Faith J. H. McDonnell
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