Sudan activists have been understandably upset lately. Since the release of the Obama administration’s Sudan policy, eight months have passed and so far it seems like the conditions in Sudan have only slipped backwards. An estimated 500,000 Darfuris have been displaced since Obama took office, and this year has already seen the highest level of violence in two years.
As the Darfur peace process in Doha falters and Sudan hurtles toward the January 2011 referendum on southern secession, widely regarded as a potential flashpoint for large scale violence, many of us have been asking: Where have our president’s lofty promises gone?
For the next few weeks a network of grassroots activists – with your help – will be demanding from our leaders: Don’t be absent on Sudan! We’re launching a campaign of weekly actions that use both social networking sites and other advocacy tools to bring attention to the fact that the Obama administration is AWOL on its Sudan policy. We’ll be updating our asks and targets according to new developments on the ground, so check in with us regularly!
Last week, three Sudanese students were arrested and allegedly tortured while in the custody of security services, apparently due to their association with Girifna, an organization involved in peaceful political activities and critical of the ruling National Congress Party, or NCP. The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies said in a statement:
These arrests are the latest in a string of attacks on civil society in Sudan, which has seen an increasingly repressive environment for human rights defenders in the months since the elections. The tactic of referring detainees from police custody to NISS offices has begun to be employed systematically, sending clear signals to civil society and the broader human rights community that any offence will be treated as a national security issue.
Activists across the United States are demonstrating online to express our disappointment that President Obama and his senior officials have been silent about this latest state-sponsored crackdown on opposition voices in Sudan.
On Facebook: Leave messages for Secretary Clinton, U.N. Ambassador Rice, and President Obama on Facebook using the links above (you’ll have to click the “like” button on each page first) and ask them:
Why are you silent as Sudan tortures its peaceful youth leaders? Please don’t be AWOL on Sudan. http://bit.ly/b5E2z0
On Twitter: Tweet this message: Why is #Obama silent as Sudan tortures its peaceful youth leaders, @presssec? http://bit.ly/b5E2z0 Why is he AWOL on #Sudan?
By Phone: Send a message by phone on these three comment lines, Monday – Friday, 9-5 EST:
- Secretary Clinton: 202-647-9572, any time
- Ambassador Rice: 212-415-4050, any time
- President Obama: 202-456-1111, Monday – Friday, 9-5 EST
This is [your name] calling from [city, state]. I’m calling to ask [Secretary Clinton, Ambassador Rice, or President Obama] to speak out about problems in Sudan. In particular, why have you been silent about the recent news of Sudan arresting and torturing peaceful youth leaders? Please don’t be AWOL on Sudan.
Naama Haviv is the assistant director at Jewish World Watch.