The Demand for Real Change: Putting the Interests of the Sudanese People First

Historically, the U.S. and Europe have championed the cause of the people of Sudan; however, over the last few years, a movement has been underway to align more closely with the Sudan regime in order to further certain political and economic interests.  The U.S. has found a source of information with regard to the war on terror; the West’s ally, Saudi Arabia, has found a source of soldiers for the war in Yemen; and Europe has sourced Sudan’s brutal military to stop Africans and other refugees from seeking safety within its borders.  In return, the U.S. has lifted key Sudan sanctions that has opened up markets and investment opportunities for companies such Baker Hughes, currently a G.E. subsidiary, which is providing assistance to the Sudan regime in its oil and gas operations, and Squire Patton Boggs, a Cleveland-based law firm that is representing the Sudan regime in Washington and beyond for $40,000 a month.

The U.S., in particular, is taking every opportunity to change the perception of the Sudan regime in order to justify engagement.  Besides lifting sanctions, U.S. restrictions on banking have been fully lifted, the designation of Sudan as a Temporary Protected Status Country is being terminated in November, and members of Congress and the Administration are making regular trips to Khartoum.  The U.S. insists that Khartoum has met its first set of benchmarks and it is expected that Sudan’s role in the recent South Sudan negotiations will bolster their argument, despite Bashir’s role in perpetuating conflict in South Sudan to further his own agenda, which is playing out before our eyes.  The U.S. is preparing the case to remove Sudan, an Islamist government with known ties to terrorist organizations, from the list of states that sponsor terrorism.  Removal from the list will allow the regime to have access to debt relief, supposedly for development of the country, which is questionable given its recent purchase of Chinese fighter jets despite the country's current economic crisis.

Sudanese and human rights defenders, however, are not fooled.  While the regime has made some minor concessions to garner international favor, it continues to bomb and attack civilians, blocks humanitarian aid from reaching Sudanese in need, arbitrarily detains and tortures opposition and civil society leaders, shuts down the press, persecutes Christians and moderate Muslims, and has bankrupted the country due to gross corruption and mismanagement.  While the U.S. and European governments are willing to look the other way, Sudanese and activists refuse to be silent.

On June 13, 2018, Act for Sudan organized a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo, which was signed by 84 Sudanese, scholars, human rights organizations and leading activists urging a "fresh, clear-eyed look at U.S. policy on Sudan": 

Despite decades of engagement by hundreds of thousands of activists and by the U.S. government itself, our collective work over the years has not been enough.  Not enough to stop the government sponsored killings.  Not enough to force a breakthrough so that the millions of displaced can get humanitarian assistance.  Not enough to end the marginalization and targeting of Sudanese citizens, human rights defenders and journalists.  Not enough to transform the political model in Sudan that victimizes millions while advancing extremist ideologies.  Not enough to end the regime that is the root cause of Sudan’s problems.  Not enough.  Not yet.  

On June 22, 2018, the Never Again Coalition organized a letter, signed by 58 organizations and activists, to the UN Security Council regarding the proposed reduction to the UNAMID mandate in Darfur:

If UNAMID truly intends to uphold its mandate to protect, the UNSC must take stronger actions in response to the violence perpetrated and supported by the Government of Sudan in Darfur. Protection of IDPs and civilians must remain a priority. We urge members of the UNSC to vote against any further reduction of the UNAMID mission and instead consider a restructuring of existing resources to better meet the peacekeeping mandate and protect civilians.

On June 30, 2018, Waging Peace, HART and Sudanese in the UK organized a protest that was replicated in over 100 cities around the world to mark 29 years of poor governance by the Sudan regime.  Their letter to Prime Minister Theresa May stated:

We, the undersigned, object to the UK Government seeking to promote positive relations with the Government of Sudan, which consistently ignores the human rights and democratic voices of an equal citizenry, creating a society where its people are driven to emigrate or seek asylum abroad.

The U.S. and Europe seem to expect that its engagement and concessions will mean cooperation by the Sudan government, economic recovery for Sudan and a better life for Sudan’s citizens.  These expectations are based on the assumption that the Sudan government will be a trustworthy ally and will manage the country’s resources well and govern appropriately.  Unfortunately, this has not been the case for almost 30 years and the Sudan regime demonstrates every day, as it harms Sudanese and blocks humanitarian aid from reaching those in need, that nothing has changed.  The people of Sudan have had enough and they are demanding their right to real change.