August 27, 2012

To: President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, Special Assistant to the President Samantha Power.

From: The Undersigned Genocide Scholars

Subject: Humanitarian Catastrophe in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States of Sudan

Dear President Obama, Secretary of State  Clinton, Ambassador Rice and Special Assistant Power:

On June 6, 2011, the Sudanese regime, led by indicted war criminal Omar al-Bashir, unleashed a wave of targeted ethnic killings against the people of the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan state, Sudan. Since then this state-sponsored violence has spread to engulf much of South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

The continuing multiple atrocities amount to at least crimes against humanity. This, in and of itself, is alarming. According to the tenets of the Responsibility to Protect now is the time to protect the targeted population.

Satellite imagery has revealed mass graves, razed communities, and the indiscriminate low altitude aerial bombardment of civilian areas in South Kordofan state. Reliable eyewitnesses continue to report systematic government shelling and bombing of refugee evacuation routes, helicopter gunships hunting civilians as they flee their homes and farmland to hide in caves, and a deliberate and widespread blockage of humanitarian aid into South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. Anecdotal evidence of perpetrators screaming racist slurs as civilians are killed and raped are familiar to anyone who knows what has been happening in Darfur since 2003.

Sufficient evidence exists for us to believe the Sudanese regime is attempting to annihilate those whom the government suspects of supporting the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North’s (SPLM-N) aimsHence many local people are automatically targeted regardless of their true political affiliations.

Hundreds of thousands of Sudanese remain trapped in South Kordofan, the victims of forced starvation, unable to farm their land. This critical situation largely mirrors what the same regime perpetrated in the 1990s, a case of genocide by attrition.

Meanwhile in Blue Nile state, a scorched earth campaign by government forces has forced the SPLM-N to retreat, leaving tens of thousands with no protection from the perpetrators.

As genocide scholars we have a solemn responsibility to educate the public about the horrors of the past in the hope of creating a future free of such crimes. We are the keepers of the chapters of human history that are difficult to confront, casting a dark shadow on all of humanity. We study the past to find ways to prevent such egregious actions in the future. We exist to remind the world of humanity’s capacity to commit genocide anywhere and against any group of people.

It is because of that responsibility that we write to you.  We call on  you to fulfill your responsibilities as global leaders when it comes to confronting mankind’s most terrifying of crimes.

Although we welcome your efforts to aid the refugees who have found their way to camps in South Sudan, we must point out that as world leaders you have the moral authority granted by the UN’s unanimous 2005 declaration of the Responsibility to Protect to demand delivery of aid to those inside Sudan. As guarantors of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed that same year, moreover, you have not fulfilled your legal and moral obligation to sanction violators of that agreement.

The Sudanese regime continues to slaughter its own civilians, while denying them access to aid and in defiance of various international treaties and conventions it has signed, not to mention the Sudanese constitution.

The Tripartite Agreement signed on 4 August 2012 in Addis Ababa, called upon the Government of Sudan to allow humanitarian access to all areas of the Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile state dependent on certain conditions. Yet the Bashir regime’s track record leads us to fear it will interfere with aid delivery to those in most need. Seasonal inaccessibility also requires extraordinary and timely arrangements, such as airdrops.  Hence we beseech you to take the following steps immediately to ensure aid is delivered to South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

  • Establish a land and air humanitarian corridor through which aid can be delivered without interference or hindrance from Sudanese security, military or other forces or proxies.
  • Secure arrangements with the SPLM-N for the airlifting of these supplies directly into territory in their control.
  • Inform relevant Sudanese officials that, due to the urgency of the catastrophe created by their actions, the United States will deliver relief directly into the war-affected areas underneath SPLM-N control.
  • Invite relevant Sudanese officials to observe the cargo to be delivered so they can verify the contents.
  • Use the most effective means possible, including airlifts, to get supplies into affected areas in SPLM-N control.
  • Keep armed escort planes on standby for the protection of aid delivery planes if necessary.

It is therefore unwise to respond to the Khartoum regime’s various crimes with appeasement. By allowing the NCP to behave with impunity, the U.S. and the rest of the international community signals a weakness that only emboldens those who would flout its own international agreements.

Furthermore, it is unwise to assume, as the international community does, that Khartoum intends the best for its citizens. Therefore we call on your administration to end Khartoum’s effective blockade of aid to South Kordofan and Blue Nile. The regime will continue to kill their own people if once again the United States declines to use the economic and diplomatic leverage at its disposal to enforce the delivery of aid into South Kordofan and Blue Nile states under internationally acceptable terms.

We strongly urge you to act now to stave off the starvation of an entire people. Nothing would speak louder to the United States’ concern for the protection of international human rights than an immediate operation to deliver aid to the Nuba Mountains people while they are still alive and able to be helped.

If your administration chooses to stand with the victims of Sudan’s continuing campaign of ethnic cleansing, then history will accord you respect and honor. If you do not stand with the victims, history will be much harsher.

We very much look forward to hearing from each of you in regard to our letter and the suggestions therein.

In solidarity with the victims, and with respect,


Dr. Samuel Totten

Professor Emeritus, and author of Genocide by Attrition: Nuba Mountains, Sudan (2012)

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville


Dr. John Hubbel Weiss

Associate Professor, History

Cornell University


Mr. David Kilgour, J.D.

Former Canadian Secretary of State for Africa

Ottawa, Canada


Dr. Israel W. Charny (dual citizenship, U.S. & Israel)

Director, Genocide Prevention Network and Past President of the International Association of Genocide Studies, and Chief Editor, Encyclopedia of Genocide

Jerusalem, Israel


Dr. Helen Fein

Chair of the Board, Institute for the Study of Genocide, and author of Human Rights and Wrongs: Slavery, Terror and Genocide

New York, NY


Dr. Roger Smith

Professor Emeritus and Past President of the International Association of Genocide Studies,and editor of Genocide: Essays Toward Understanding, Early Warning Prevention

College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA


Dr. John Hagan

MacArthur Professor, and Co-Director, Center on Law & Globalizations, American Bar Foundation Co-author of Darfur and the Crime of Genocide (Cambridge University Press, 2008)

Northwestern University, Chicago, IL


Craig Etcheson

Author of After the Killing Fields: Lessons from the Cambodian Genocide.

Canton, IL


Dr. Ben Kiernan

Whitney Griswold Professor of History and Director of Genocide Studies Program (Yale University

Author of Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur

Yale University, New Haven, CT


Dr. Herb Hirsch

Professor, Department of Political Science and Co-Editor of Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal and author of Anti-Genocide: Building An American Movement to Prevent Genocide (Praeger, 2002)

Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA


Dr. Hannibal Travis

Associate Professor of Law and author of Genocide in the Middle East: The Ottoman Empire, Iraq and Sudan (2010)

Florida International University College of Law


Professor Linda Melvern

Department of International Politics, and author of A People Betrayed: The Role of the West in Rwanda’s Genocide

University of Aberystwyth, Wales


Dr. Henry Theriault

Professor and Chair, Department of Philosophy, and Co-Editor of Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal

Worcester State University, MA


Eric D. Weitz

Dean of Humanities and Arts and Professor of History

City College, City University of New York


Dr. Gregory Stanton

President of Genocide Watch, Research Professor in Genocide Studies and Prevention, School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution

George Mason University, Fairfax, VA


Dr. Rouben Adalian

Director, Armenian National Institute

Washington, D.C.


Dr. Susanne Jonas

Professor (retired), Latin American & Latino Studies, and author of The Battle for Guatemala: Rebels, Death Squads and U.S. Power

University of California, Santa Cruz


Dr. Robert Skloot

Professor Emeritus

University of Wisconsin-Madison


Mr. Nicolas A. Robins

Co-editor, Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal, and author of Genocide by the Oppressed: Subaltern Genocide in Theory and Practice

Raleigh, North Carolina


Dr. John D. Ciorciari

Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor


Dr. George Kent

Professor, Department of Political Science

University of Hawaii, Honolulu


Dr. Elisa Von Joeden-Forgey

Visiting Scholar, Department of History

University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA


Dr. Peter Balakian

Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor in Humanities, and author of The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response

Colgate University, Hamilton, NY


Dr. Ernesto Verdeja

Assistant Professor of Political Science and Peace Studies

University of Notre Dame


Mr. Stephen D. Smith

Executive Director, USC Shoah Foundation, and Adjunct Professor of Religion

University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California


Dr. Paul Slovic

Professor, Department of Psychology

University of Oregon, Eugene


Dr. Jason Ross Arnold

Assistant Professor of Political Science

L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA


Dr. Jason K. Levy, Associate Professor,

Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and Director, National Homeland Security Project,

Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA


Dr. Amanda Grzyb (Dual Citizen, U.S. and Canada)

Assistant Professor, Information and Media Studies, and editor of The World and Darfur: International Response to Crimes Against Humanity in Western Sudan

University of Western Ontario (Canada)


Dr. Alan L. Berger

Reddock Family Eminent Scholar in Holocaust Studies, and Director, Center for the Study of Values and Violence After Auschwitz

Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton


Dr. Douglas H. Johnson

International Expert, Abyei Boundaries Commission, 2005, Author of The Root Causes of Sudan’s Civil Wars

Haverford, PA and Oxford, UK


Dr. Gagik Aroutiunian

Associate Professor, Department of Art, Media & Design

DePaul University, Chicago, IL


Dr. Gerry Caplan

Independent Scholar and Author of Rwanda: The Preventable Genocide

Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada


Dr. Dominik J. Schaller

Lecturer, History Department, and author of The Origins of Genocide: Raphael Lemkin as a Historian of Mass Violence

Ruprecht-Karls-Univeristy, Heidelberg, Germany


Dr. Philip J. Spencer

Director of the Helen Bamber Centre for the Study of Rights, Conflict and Mass Violence

Kingston University, Surrey, England


Dr. Maureen S. Hiebert

Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

University of Calgary (Canada)


Dr. Eric Reeves

Professor, and author of A Long Day’s Dying: Critical moments in the Darfur Genocide

Smith College, Northhampton, MA


Dr. Robert Hitchcock

Professor, Department of Geography, and co-editor of Genocide of Indigenous Peoples

Michigan State University, Lansing


Dr. James Waller

Cohen Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies, author of Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing

Keene State College, Keene, New Hampshire


Dr. Rubina Peroomian

Research Associate

University of California, Los Angeles


Dr. Colin Tatz

Visiting Fellow, Political and International Relations, and author of With Intent to Destroy: Reflecting on Genocide

Australian National University, Canberra


Dr. Kjell Anderson

Project Manager, The Hague Institute for Global Justice

The Hague, The Netherlands


Dr. Adam Jones

Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, and author of Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction

University of British Columbia


Dr. Elihu D. Richter, MD MPH

Jerusalem Center for Genocide Prevention and Hebrew-University-Hadassah School of Public Health and Community Medicine

Jerusalem, Israel


Matthias Bjornlund


Danish Institute for the Study Abroad, Copenhagen, Denmark


José Carlos Moreira da Silva Filho

Professor, Criminal Law Post Graduate Department

Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul, Port Alegra RS - Brazil


Tamar Pileggi

Co-Founder, The Jerusalem Center for Genocide Prevention

Jerusalem, Israel


Dr. Uriel Levy

Director, Combat Genocide Association

Jerusalem, Israel


Dr. Penny Green

International State Crime Initiative

Kings College, London


Dr. Tony Ward

Professor of Law

University of Hull, UK


Ms. Amy Fagin

International Association of Genocide Scholars

New Salem, MA


Dr. Ann Weiss

Director, Eyes from the Ashes Educational Foundation, and author of The Last Album: Eyes from the Ashes of Auschwitz-Birkenau

Bryn Mawr, PA


Dr. Rick Halperin

Director, Embrey Human Rights Program

Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX


Mr. Geoff Hill

Bureau Chief, The Washington Times

Johannesburg, South Africa


Dr. Frank Chalk,

Director, The Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies

Concordia University


Mr. Tadej Slapnik,

Director of INEA Institut for South East Europe

Ljubljana, Slovenia


Isabel V. Hull,

Professor of History


Gérard Prunier, PhD

Private consultant and fellow of the Atlantic Council


Mr. Dzemal Sokolovic,

Professor, Institute for Strengthening Democracy in Bosnia

Konjic, Bosnia


Gamal Adam, Ph.D.

Private Scholar

Head of the Canadian Darfuri Community


Mr. Tomo Kriznar

Former Slovenian Presidential Envoy to Sudan, Co-author of documentary films on Nuba, Darfur



Mr. Norman L. Epstein

Co-chair CASTS, Canadians Against Slavery and Torture in Sudan


Dr. Robert G. Blanton III

Professor of Political Science, University of Memphis

Memphis, Tennessee, USA


Dr. Rene Lemarchand

Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science

University of Florida, Gainesville


Dr. Herbert-Ekwe

Independent Scholar and author of Readings from Reading: Essays on African Politics, Genocide, Literature

London, England


Dr. Deborah Mayersen

Vice Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Institute for Social Transformation Research, Faculty of Arts

University of Wollongong

New South Wales, Australia


Dr. Donald W. Beachler

Associate Professor of Politics

Ithaca College

Ithaca, New York


Michael P.E. Hoyt

Retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer

Santa Fe, NM