A few days ago we learned that a Sudanese war criminal had been invited to attend the 2015 National Prayer Breakfast. Sudan Foreign Minister Ali Karti's invitation to this esteemed annual event was surprising considering his violent background.
As a senior official within the government of Sudan, Mr. Karti, along with many other Sudanese officials, has played a direct role in Sudanese government war crimes for many years. His resume includes an extended stint as coordinator and leader of Popular Defense Forces (PDF), who were responsible for widespread abuses in southern Sudan during the 1990s. He has reinforced his government’s decisions to expel U.N. humanitarian aid officials on several occasions. Today, he represents a government led by internationally-indicted war criminals.
In light of the Prayer Breakfast’s remembrance of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, it was stunning that a known, active war criminal was invited. We launched the #JustSayNo Campaign to get him univited. You responded with great passion and incredible energy in an attempt to right this wrong. Here are the results you achieved.
Hundreds of you took to Twitter and Facebook to tell the world what was happening:
You spoke loudly through an online petition, on Facebook and Twitter, and by calling your Congressional offices. Within just two days, ordinary people and leaders from around the world joined their voices together to show their alarm.
Here's what Congressmen and Parliamentarians had to say after you called them to action:
1. U.S. House Representatives and TLHRC Co-chairs McGovern and Pitts:
“We are deeply alarmed by reports that two alleged perpetrators of genocide in Sudan, Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti and Dr. Ibrahim Ghandur of the ruling National Congress Party, have been invited to the National Prayer Breakfast. Quite simply, these officials should not have been invited to attend an event held in the name of the U.S. Congress, which has passed legislation denouncing the Sudanese government for acts of genocide and crimes against humanity. This breakfast, an occasion where the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide will be recognized, should be a moment to ensure that the words `Never Again!’ have genuine meaning. We call upon all participants at the National Prayer Breakfast, including the President of the United States, to publicly and forcefully denounce the continuing human rights crimes being carried out in Sudan by the government of Omar al-Bashir, especially the atrocities taking place on a near daily basis in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.”
2. Senator Wicker's Chief of Staff (Wicker was a Breakfast co-chair this year):
I wanted to let you know that Karti has been "uninvited" from the pre-breakfast meet and greet with administration officials; however, he is still invited to (and attending best we know) the breakfast.
3. House of Lords Member Baroness Caroline Cox (the United Kingdom) released an extended statement. You can read it in full here »
Here's what the media and press had to say:
Jake Tapper Tweets: Objecting to Sudan Foreign Minister Ali Karti's presence at prayer breakfast.
Greta van Susteren Tweets: How can u invite a genocide pres' foreign minister to a prayer breakfast ? To pray don't get caught?
You Made This Happen! Thank You!
Although Mr. Karti attended the National Prayer Breakfast, your voices were heard loud and clear. Mr. Karti was uninvited from an important meeting with senior U.S. officials because of you. Key U.S. Congressional offices and other world leaders heard you and spoke out alongside of you. People from several countries signed the petition. Our primary objective was not achieved, but you threw a big wrench into Mr. Karti's plans and let him know that the world is watching.
There are too many people and organizations to thank here. In fact, this campaign grew so quickly that we're still tracking down every organization and person who participated. Whether you acted in a small or large way, you showed up. And you showed up on time.
What Can I Do Now?
If you participated in this campaign, you probably saw elsewhere on our website that we have a lot of other things going on. Here's a few other ways you can keep fighting alongside of us for peace and justice in Sudan.