Earlier this month actor George Clooney met with President Obama at the White House to urge him to prevent bloodshed in Sudan in advance of the controversial referendum planned for January 9 in which the mostly Christian South is predicted to vote to secede from the radical Muslim-led North.
Simon Deng, an escaped slave from South Sudan who is now a prominent U.S. citizen and human rights activist, has recently completed his 300-mile walk from the United Nations in New York to the Capitol in Washington D.C. to call upon President Obama and the U.S. Congress to ensure that Sudan’s Khartoum government–the same radical Islamist government that hosted bin Laden in the 1980’s–honor its commitments under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Those commitments include allowing a peaceful secession for the mostly-Christian South, if Southerners vote for independence in January.
These people, who have been slaughtered by the millions since the 1950s, will almost certainly choose the path of independence, according to Deng.
“You can’t lose three and a half million of your loved ones under that ‘unity’ and want to stay united” with the North, Deng told me earlier this month after he finished his walk. “Being brutalized and being enslaved you can’t want to remain a slave. You can’t go through 55 years of a policy of Arabization and want to remain under the thumb of Khartoum. It is very clear: Southern Sudanese will choose freedom.”
But the Islamist leadership of the North is likely to attempt to crush the nascent state of South Sudan, even though it signed on to the 2005 agreement the Bush Administration hammered out requiring it to abide by the result of the vote. Recently, Omar al-Bashir, the leader of the north, indicated he wants the oil-rich South to stay, not secede.
“Bashir said [earlier this month], ‘Nothing will substitute for unity,’” says Deng. “The agreement does not say it is up to Bashir to decide that.”
Deng adds, “The United States must take leadership because it was they who made that promise [of a referendum.]”
So far, President Obama has been alarmingly quiet on this issue, in which black Africans who have been appallingly victimized are facing the opportunity to be self-governed, but also facing down the threat of a radical Muslim government that continues its violence against fellow Muslims in Darfur - and is making statements that suggest it could be planning to expand the killing.
Clooney recently suggested President Obama use tough diplomacy to prevent bloodshed, and freeze Bashir’s assets if all violence does not stop.
Deng agrees the U.S. President and U.S. citizens as well as all people concerned about human rights must step up.
“If anyone had stepped up when atrocities happened in the South we would not be talking about Darfur today.”
Deng adds, “It is a blessing to see George Clooney saying everything we have been saying for 21 years, but no one heard us because we were not George Clooney. But G-d bless George Clooney for speaking up today.”
Have PoliticalMavens.com delivered to your inbox in a daily digest by clicking here