For Immediate Release
Date: August 27, 2012
Contact: Samuel Totten, 479-927-0318
Memphis, TN USA- Experts from 10 countries are calling on the US to intervene to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of Sudanese being targeted by their own government.
In an open letter to U.S. President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, and Advisor to the President and Director of the Atrocities Prevention Board Samantha Power, 67 of the world’s top genocide experts from the United States, Australia, Canada, Denmark, England, Germany, Brazil, Slovenia, Israel and the Netherlands called on the US to end the humanitarian blockade in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, Sudan.
“After a full year of a denial of humanitarian aid, it has become clear that the regime of indicted war criminal Omar al-Bashir appears to be committing a second genocide by attrition against the people of the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, Sudan. This is the same regime that starved to death an untold number of innocent people in the 1990s in the exact same area of Sudan,” asserts Samuel Totten, an internationally recognized genocide scholar and professor at the University of Arkansas.
The open letter calls for the Obama administration to live up to the responsibilities outlined in the internationally-recognized Responsibility to Protect doctrine and the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide: to actively prevent harm to a group of people who are facing crimes against humanity and/or potential or actual genocide.
The open letter particularly focuses on the critical need for the U.S. government and the international community to immediately begin airlifting aid supplies directly into war-affected areas. This is absolutely imperative as some 200,000 to 300,000 people are currently seeking sanctuary in caves and on ridges of the Nuba Mountains where food is virtually nonexistent and the people have resorted to eating insects, tree leaves, plants, and roots.
Scholars argue that road inaccessibility due to seasonal rains, coupled with a long history of Khartoum’s breaking of international-brokered agreements, argues in favor of an emergency aid operation.
“Denying humanitarian aid to those victims that Khartoum has failed to bomb to death is the Bashir regime’s habitual weapon,” says John Hubbel Weiss of Cornell University. “The world witnessed this during the north-south war and in Darfur, so we should not be surprised that Bashir’s cronies are using it again. This is a calculated action meant to annihilate those who support the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North political and military movement. At the local level, this means that many people are automatically targeted based on geographic location and ethnicity regardless of their true political affiliations.”
Both professors also note that the genocide scholar community warns of the severity of the crimes being committed in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states. The letter draws attention to reliable documented eyewitness accounts of perpetrators screaming racist slurs as they target innocent people, as well as the use of heavy weaponry such as attack helicopters by government forces to hunt unarmed, fleeing civilians. It also mentions months’ worth of satellite imagery documenting mass graves and troop movements in both areas.
Totten says that despite a failure to act decisively for over a year there is still time to change course.
“It has become impossible for us to remain silent. We exist to remind the world that genocide is not a crime merely found in history books, but something we must stand strongly against in both word and deed right now. If we do not stand with the victims, then we are automatically standing with those who commit such crimes. We urge the Obama administration to take a stand against these atrocities now for this very reason; otherwise, history will be unforgiving for further inaction.”
Operation Broken Silence is a nonprofit that strives to protect the innocent by confronting social affliction and building a new generation of abolitionists who envision a world without mass atrocities and modern slavery. The organization partners with private citizens, like-minded organizations, and victims to work towards a future without these heinous crimes. To learn more about OBS and how you can join the Second Abolition, go to obsilence.org.