To mark the 50 days until Sudan’s nationwide election, grassroots activists around the United States have kicked off Sudan Sham Elections 2010, a campaign to press U.S. leaders to take a firmer line in Sudan. In particular, activists are expressing their distaste for the U.S. government’s decision to allocate $100 million in taxpayers’ money to an election they believe “will be anything but free and fair,” said Tzivia Schwartz Getzug, Executive Director of Jewish World Watch and one of the campaign’s leaders.
During the 50 days of the campaign, each state will sponsor a day of activism to advocate for a shift in U.S. policy. The campaign centers on concern among activists that there is no way for elections to be credible in the face of political intimidation, ongoing insecurity in Darfur, and in light of the expectation that incumbent President Omar al-Bashir will be re-elected. Gabriel Stauring, Director of Stop Genocide Now, one of the groups coordinating the campaign, was incredulous:
"You have an indicted war criminal, Omar al-Bashir, as the candidate. The candidate and current president of Sudan, a post he attained through military coup, and his government is responsible for millions of deaths across Sudan. They control the elections, and they continue to terrorize Sudanese citizens in the days leading up to this sham. We, as Americans, cannot legitimize al-Bashir in any way."
State chapters are finding creative ways to get their message across to elected officials. In Hawaii, activists are mailing a different photo and story of a Darfur refugee, a Peace Lei, and petition to Senators Daniel Inouye (D) and Daniel Akak (D) each day until the election. On March 13, Hawaii’s day of action, participants will follow up by calling their senators’ offices.
Stop Genocide Now reports that while activities have already begun in all states, they are still seeking leaders to volunteer to direct events in Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wyoming. If you live in one of those states and would like to take the lead with Sudan Sham activities, send an email to contact(at)sudansham2010(dot)org.
For information on how to get involved in events across the country, visit www.sudansham2010.org.