Sudan and Slavery

A Fact Sheet on “Sudan and Slavery”

FACT: “Overeager or misinformed human rights advocates in Europe and the U.S. have played upon lazy assumptions to raise public outrage. Christian Solidarity International, for instance, claims that ‘Government troops and Government-backed Arab militias regularly raid black African communities for slaves and other forms of booty.’ This despite the fact that there is no evidence for centrally organized, government-directed slave raiding or slave trade.” (Alex de Waal, ‘Sudan: Social Engineering, Slavery and War,’ Covert Action Quarterly, Spring 1997.)

FACT: ‘The charge that [Sudanese] government troops engage in raids for the purpose of seizing slaves is not backed by the evidence.” (Anti-Slavery International and Sudan Update, London, May 1997, pg. 20.)

In their, “Report on a Fact-Finding Mission to the Republic of Sudan and Recommendations” (January 5-13 2001), Melvin P. Foote, Jongomoi Okidi, and Jacques P. Walker quote a leading Sudanese opposition figure by the name of Sadiq al-Mahdi (former Prime Minister) who states: “The United States has been an obstacle to peace in Sudan and also to unity among the opposition. [He said] Sudan is like a pregnant woman that is about to deliver, and needs a midwife to help the delivery. [They] all believe that the United States could act as a midwife. [They] all accept this. But, the United States, instead of helping deliver the baby, killed it…By criticizing the Islamic government in Khartoum and portraying this war as a religious war, [the US] has turned a political war into a religious war and other Christian communities in the Western world have joined this crusade.”

One example of the aforementioned point, is the former Clinton Administration’s policy on Sudan, and former president Jimmy Carter’s criticism of this policy – such as an observation made in April 2001: “For the past eight years, the U.S. has had a policy which I strongly disagree with in Sudan, supporting the revolutionary movement and not working for an overall peace settlement.” And further, “I think Garang (leader of the SPLA) now feels he doesn’t need to negotiate because he anticipates a victory brought about by increasing support from his immediate neighbors, and also from the United States and indirectly from other countries.” (‘Ex-President Opposes Policy of Aiding Khartoum’s Does,’ The Washington Times 9/25/97) It should be noted here that, in addition to other direct support that the opposition forces have received from the U.S. government, it is a widely accepted fact the Clinton Administration’s $20 million grant in military aid to Eritrea, Ethiopia and Uganda in the late 1990s, was a tacit demonstration of support for the overthrow of the Khartoum government.

FACT: The Clinton Administration (and now the Bush Administration) has used the same covert warfare tactics in Sudan that the Reagan Administration used against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua! The National Security Council’s Sudan expert, John Prendergast, attested to this in the following words: “The parallels to Central America in the 1980s are stark. The U.S. provides covert aid to the Contras (and official aid to regimes in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala), and because of domestic public pressure urged numerous reforms on the Contras (and also on the three Central American governments), especially in the area of human rights and institutional reform.” Although the pressures were successfully undercut by an administration in Washington not serious about human rights. (‘Crisis Response: Humanitarian Band-Aids in Sudan and Somalia,’ Pluto Press, London, 1997, pg.77.)

The Washington Times reported on February 8, 2001, that Imam Mohamed Magid, a Muslim American leader of Sudanese heritage was denied access to a meeting on Capitol Hill through a representative of Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va). According to the report, those invited to attend included Christian groups such as Christian Solidarity International and the American Anti-Slavery Group (the two most prominent groups lobbying for sanctions against Sudan), human rights organizations and the Congressional Black Caucus. However, Mohamed Magid could not attend; and this prompted the following reaction from the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR): “Wolf’s decision seems to confirm our suspicions that the sponsors of the Sudan sanctions campaign are not interested in hearing from anyone whose views might differ from their own. We can only hope that foreign policy will be formulated based on American interests, not on those of special-interest groups.”

FACT: Christian Solidarity International (CSI), and the American Anti-Slavery Group (AASG) have well documented associations with the extremist wing of the pro-Israel lobby, and those who are trying to convert residents of Southern Sudan to their particular version of Christianity. AASG founder Charles Jacobs has had associations with at least four hard-line pro-Israel groups, and it is known that one of AASG’s co-founders was an official of the rebel South Sudan Independence Army (SSIA). The State Department notes the SSIA massacred more than 100 residents of the southern Sudanese town of Akot in 1994.

FACT: AASG also publishes communiqu├ęs of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), the largest rebel group fighting the Sudanese government. A December 6, 1999, editorial in the New York Times said of the SPLA: “Though its members claim to be ‘Christians’ resisting Islamization, they have behaved like an occupying army, killing, raping and pillaging.”

According to a May 4, 2001, report in the Washington Post, President George W. Bush announced his administration’s decision to “pressure the government of Sudan, which he called a disaster area for human rights, to end its war against Christians and others unwilling to convert to Islam.” Kowtowing to the will of “Christian conservatives” (among others), Bush declared before the American Jewish Committee, “We must turn the eyes of the world upon the atrocities in Sudan.” Bush reportedly went on to criticize China, Iraq, Iran, Burma, Cuba and Afghanistan – then, amazingly went on to note that one of his administration’s top foreign policy priorities is “the safety and security of Israel” (the apartheid state of the Middle East, and consistently one of the most brutal violators of human rights in the world community)!

FACT: While the conflict has been deliberately mischaracterized as a struggle between the “Arab Muslim North” and the “Black African South,” the truth is that all Sudanese are Africans, and almost all, whether Christian (a distinct minority), Muslim, or animist, would be considered black in America. (Perhaps this is part of the reason why Mohamed Magid was denied admission to the Capitol Hill meeting. As the saying goes, a picture – esp. in the flesh – is worth more than a thousand words!) It should also be noted that there are Christians fighting on the government side and Muslims fighting on the side of the rebels.

One of the most compelling counter arguments to the claims made by CSI and AASG, is one made by the Sudan Foundation: “During the past 13 years, the population of Greater Khartoum has increased by several million. Most of this new population is made up of black people from the south fleeing the civil war. There are many other places they could go – Kenya, Uganda, Chad, and other neighboring countries that have not the ability to seal their borders against refugees. But they have gone to Khartoum. And once in Khartoum, they have proved unwilling to return to their homes. If these people were as much at risk of being enslaved by northerners [as alleged by CSI, et. al.] Khartoum would have been their last place of refuge. It would make as little sense to go there as it would have for Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe to have sought refuge in Berlin. That Khartoum was their first place of refuge must be taken as important evidence against [CSI] claims. [CSI] offer eyewitness testimonies by often unnamed individuals. We offer the actual testimony of millions whom any tourist can see.” (Farce Majeure: The Clinton Administration’s Sudan Policy 1993-2000, pg.68)

To Be Continued….

El-Hajj Mauri’ Saalakhan Director