A photographer and a blogger El Marco has interviewed Sudanese Diaspora leaders, including the AASG's Associates Francis Bok and Simon Deng, about their views on President Obama's Sudan policy.
Here are some experts from the article that originally appeared on Looking at the Left Blog.
October 25, 2010
Asked about the Obama administration’s commitment to peace, Francis Bok said:
"We are so worried now about how the U.S. is going to protect us on this. Because we don’t see them speaking that much. I am not willing to be once again forced into slavery by the northern Sudanese oppressors. For over 50 years my people have been oppressed and marginalized by these people who reached power in 1956. My people want to be a free nation, and rule ourselves like other societies. Three million southern Sudanese people have been slaughtered by the radicalist, extremist fundamentalist regime in Khartoum."
"We know very, very well that we are not being supported like the previous administration has done concerning the issue of Sudan. Both slavery and genocide are in Darfur and southern Sudan, and with this referendum, we’re just afraid. A miracle has to happen to help the people of Sudan. I’m praying every day because I do not want to see my people continue to be kept under apartheid by the radicalist regime."
Dr. Abdelgabar Adam is the Founder and the President of Darfur Human Rights Organization of the USA.
How do you see the Obama administration’s current stance towards Khartoum?
"Now, this last week, the Obama Administration started talking, at a time when we expect them to walk the walk. Talking itself will not solve the problem. We need someone who can step up the position of the U.S. government and lead the world to stop the genocide in Darfur and bring peace to south Sudan. Obama falls very short of that.
"Multilateralism is a failure in international policy at this time. A failure because there is no strong international leader who will step up. When we look at what Bush did during his second term, he was very decisive. At that time we had a no fly zone in Darfur. And the government of Sudan was very much scared and were ready to do what Bush wanted them to do. In about 24 hours, we had this Comprehensive Peace Agreement in south Sudan. It was signed with a warning of just 24 hours. That’s the kind of legitimate international leader we need to see, and Obama is not that person."
When did the situation start deteriorating again?
"When the position of the Obama government became unclear. They didn’t know what they wanted, and the tools they were able to use on Sudan. Bush was very clear. Some senators at that time were even calling for military intervention. Some Republicans and some Democrats, including Joe Biden, John Kerry, and a lot of Republican senators. When it comes to decisive action, trust me, Republicans stand first."
Is there any way to influence the Obama administration to change their posture? I notice they sent John Kerry to Khartoum, and when he came back he was speaking only about cooperation with Khartoum, with all carrots and no sticks.
"That’s the problem with the Democrats in power. They want to explore ideas that have been explored and didn’t work time and time again, while Republicans, for us, they make decisions and they stand by them."
Garelnabi Abusikin is the Director of Communcations of Darfur Human Rights Organization of the USA.
"Obama always kept saying in public and in the news, “I’m going to stop the genocide, and when I become president, no more genocide.” I met Obama face to face in Philadelphia, at the Sheraton Hotel, with the Sudanese community of Philadelphia. We met him, and he promised us, the first thing, he was going to stop the genocide. After he became President, and after we worked for him (campaigning) he forgot us totally, he forgot us. Now every day he talks with the Sudan government, and he gives them more time to kill people. Of course, I feel very bad. And also, this is a shame as a human being."
"Obama, his father comes from Kenya, and Sudan and Kenya have a border. Obama’s father’s tribe is called Luo. Luo is the same tribe who also live in Darfur. No matter what, if his tribe lives in Darfur, or doesn’t live in Darfur, he should say something. Now is the time to say something. He doesn’t even say “President Bashir, from today, don’t kill people in Darfur. stop raping the women in Darfur, and stop killing the children in Darfur. If you continue killing children in Darfur, we’re going to take action, we’re going to do something to you. We’re going to do something to your regime.” But he never says that."
"The Sudan government killed my father. My family is in a refugee camp for nine years. I have a lot of good friends, more than a thousand, who died in Sudan. I think that Obama is close to the Arab Muslim, more than the African. Because Sudan’s problem is between Africans and Arab Muslims. Arab Muslims, in the north, they kill us. They kill Christian people, more than three million in south Sudan, for no reason. And also, they killed two million in Nuba Mountain. Today, in Darfur, we don’t even know how many people died."
"I have to say something very important to Obama. We, the Darfurians in the United States, I am an activist in Philadelphia, in New York, and in Washington we’re going to talk to all the Darfurians. I am an American citizen, and many Darfurians are American citizens. We are not going to vote for Obama at all. Because what he said before is different than what he is doing today. He said, “My father comes from Kenya, and I know what is happening in Sudan”, he went to Darfur in 2006, he visited all the Darfurian refugee camps in eastern Chad, he promised us when he become President, he was going to stop the genocide. Now he never even talks about it. He never says anything about Sudan now, about the genocide. So, next time, from here to 2012, it’s not too far away, we are not going to vote for him."
"We need somebody to say something. Because America has the power. We need somebody to open his mouth and say “Bashir, don’t kill people in Sudan.” Bashir and the Arab Muslims kill us for more than 55 years in Sudan. From 1956 to today, we die. An awful lot of people. Some people in the United States, they think Bush is a criminal. But we, in Africa, especially in Sudan, worship him as a hero. Because he brought peace in south Sudan. When he was in office, he told every day “Bashir, you stop killing the people.” President Bush helped us a lot. And today we feel really bad that Bush is not in office."
"All Darfurians, all the Sudanese community in America are angry at Obama. We are 6,000 Sudanese in Philadelphia, and 5,500 are angry at Obama. I helped Obama to become President. I walked house to house. I was a volunteer. At that time I was a student at Rutgers University. I didn’t go to most of my classes, because I helped Obama. Why did I help Obama? It’s not about color, it’s not about African, or white, or black or latino. It’s because he claimed “I understand the Sudan situation.” But he didn’t understand nothing. Even if he understands, he doesn’t want to do nothing."
"Tomorrow, when the election comes, he’s going to say, if he sees white people, he’s going to say “Oooo – my mother is from white people”. And if he sees black people, he’s going to say “my father’s from black people.” No, we don’t have time to listen. We don’t have time to think about him. We need to stop genocide in Sudan. We don’t care if you are white or black, it’s enough that you are a human being. Today is 2010. And we’re still dying like animals in the Sudan. Sudan’s government kills people every day. Two hundred, three hundred. Why? He should say something!"
Garelnabi and Dr. Adam were featured in this powerfull music video by Green Day.