“This is the only way that we can bring the promise of never again into reality — by working together, people to people, to take steps that match words with deeds.” In late August, I had the privilege of addressing over 250 people, including various national and regional leaders from across Sudan and South Sudan (representing Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile, Darfur, eastern Sudan, Equatoria, Bar el Gazal and Upper Nile) in Iowa to protest the killings in Sudan by President al-Bashir.
We were joined by non-Sudanese activists interested in challenging the ineffective approach of the international community and supporting the Sudanese people.
These members of Sudanese Diaspora gathered to bring much needed attention to the long-standing suffering of their friends, family and countrymen at the hand of Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir and the inaction from the international community. For nearly a decade the world has witnessed the killing and the destruction of livelihoods in Darfur. The Darfur conflict began just as over 20 years of war between North and South Sudan was ending. Altogether, it is estimated that around 2.5 million people have lost their lives in Sudan as a result of various conflicts.
The government of Sudan is now launching a military campaign that has seen the extensive targeting of civilians in the border states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile. The Sudanese military is now fighting on three major fronts (Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile) as popular dissent continues to rise with protests occurring in the capital of Khartoum and elsewhere.
The international community has failed in its moral obligation toward the people of Sudan by not holding the Sudanese government accountable. Bashir and others wanted by the International Criminal Court remain at large.
Despite all of Sudan’s broken promises, the international community continues to allow the government to renegotiate the terms of agreements and treaties that it has never upheld. Sadly, this only serves to re-victimize those impacted by the violence and prolong the suffering of the Sudanese people.
Those at the gathering recognized that protesting against Bashir isn’t enough. At the event, the creation of the United Sudanese and Southern Sudanese Community Association was announced. The organization will seek to unite the voices of the Sudanese people and was born with the support of activists like Rabbi David Kaufman, Mark Finkelstein, Peggy Harris and Kristen Anderson.
I was truly amazed by the event and the dedication of the all the activists across the country who have taken stand against the unfolding crises that are devastating lives in Sudan.
With this kind of solidarity and empowerment, the people of Sudan and South Sudan can work together to bring lasting peace to their countries. If a group of committed individuals can launch a robust effort to unite Sudanese people from Iowa, imagine what a government or a group of governments can do with their power if they are willing?
As expressed by my fellow Sudanese at the gathering, I believe that world leaders still have the chance to help bring a lasting peace to the people of Sudan. History will judge us by our action! I hope that the Obama administration and other world leaders will wisely choose where they want to be in the history book.