Sudan has a population of 39 million people. Inland area, it is the largest country in Africa. In the fifty years since Sudan gained independence from the United Kingdom, civil war has raged for all but ten of those years.
In January 2005, the government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army signed a peace accord ending the war between the north and the south, but genocide continues in the Darfur region and conflict has also erupted in the east.
During the 1990s, Sudan gained attention in the United States as a state sponsor of terrorism. In fact, Osama bin Laden operated out of Sudan until 1996. Since September 11, 2001, there has been increased intelligence cooperation between the United States and the authorities in Sudan, but Sudan is still designated as a state sponsor of terrorism by the United States.
Sources: Grand Jury Indictment of Osama bin Laden; PBS; U.S. State Department; The Washington Post (1/9/05).
About the Darfur Genocide
Since 2003, almost two million people have been displaced by a campaign of genocide undertaken by the Sudanese government against the people of Darfur. Estimates of those killed range from 80,000 to 400,000. Sudanese government troops and aircraft have supported bands of Janjaweed militia as they destroy villages in the Darfur region displacing and killing civilians by the thousands.
A small African Union (AU) mission – less than 3000 peacekeepers – has been observing a “ceasefire” throughout a region the size of Texas since the summer of 2004. Not only are there not enough peacekeepers, but the mission lacks necessary financial, material, and political support from the international community. As a result, killing and rape continue.
On July 22, 2004, the United States Congress unanimously declared the crisis in Darfur a genocide. On September 9th, 2004, Secretary of State Colin Powell testified before the United States Senate that the killings in Sudan constitute a genocide. As recently as June of 2005, President Bush reaffirmed the finding of genocide in Darfur.
In March of 2005, Senators John Corzine and Sam Brownback introduced the Darfur Accountability Act (S.495) in the Senate. Among its provisions, the legislation provided for an arms embargo against the government of Sudan; freezing of assets and visa restrictions against the architects of the genocide; and a military no-fly zone over the Darfur region. In May of 2005, the substance of the bill was passed by the Senate (as an amendment to the FY05 Emergency Supplemental bill) but stripped in Conference Committee under White House pressure.
On June 30th, 2005 a bipartisan bill – the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act (H.R. 3127) – was introduced in the House of Representatives. H.R. 3127 includes the recommendations of the Darfur Accountability Act (S.495) and authorizes NATO “reinforcement” of the AU “including but not limited to” logistical support.
Sources: The Washington Post (9/10/04); The Washington Post (6/2/05); Office of Senator Jon Corzine; Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times (5/3/05).
What you can do
First, if you haven’t done so already send a message and tell the major American TV Networks: “Cover the Genocide in Darfur.” Send a message. Second, we have compiled a list of a few other ways to take action and make a difference. Take action.
Other resources from the Center for American Progress and the Genocide Intervention Fund
More Resources and Information