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August 7, 2004
Column #1,197

                     Should America Stop Genocide in Sudan?
                                                    
     Forty-six evangelical Christian leaders have signed a letter to President Bush urging him to send "massive humanitarian aid" to the Darfur region of the Sudan where Congress charges a genocide is going on, and to consider "sending troops...to stop the killing."

     This is a distinct shift of emphasis for the National Association of Evangelicals, who represent 30 million Americans most likely to support the President. In the past, the NAE successfully pushed the Administration into ground-breaking human rights initiatives such as $15 billion of AIDS relief, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and to halt violence between Muslims and Christians in southern Sudan.

     However, the victims in Darfur are Muslim. "We view this as an opportunity to reach out to Muslims in the name of Jesus," said the Rev. Ted Haggard, NAE president.

     Secretary of State Colin Powell visited Sudan recently to urge the Khartoum regime to halt its arming of a civilian militia called Janjaweed who have destroyed Darfur villages, raped tens of thousands of women and slaughtered 30,000 men, women and children. The terrorism has so frightened residents that 1.2 million have fled their homes to isolated tent refugee camps on the Sudan-Chad border.

     The U.S. Agency for International Development characterizes the crisis in Darfur as the "worst humanitarian crisis in the world today" that could lead to the deaths of 300,000 Sudanese refugees due to starvation, disease or ethnic cleansing violence.  So far, few aid agencies have been able to penetrate the region due to continuing violence. 

     The few groups who are there: CARE, World Vision, AID, have sent back alarming
reports of impending starvation and mass death.

     Evangelicals wrote to the President, "We agree with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum which has named the Darfur crisis a 'full-fledged genocide emergency,' the first such warning in the museum's history.

     "Your Administration's goal to redefine our national interest not as power but as values and to identify one supreme value, what John Kennedy called 'the success of liberty' could be jeopardized by not taking a strong enough position on Sudan's genocidal  behavior. The World Health Organization estimates that ten thousand people are dying each month and that a catastrophe equivalent to what occurred in Rwanda a decade ago could unfold within weeks."

     What has been the Administration's response? It has increased its relief assistance to $146 million, but has failed to enlist other nations to help. The entire European Union has pledged a niggardly $13 million. Last week prodded by America, the UN Security Council sent Sudan a warning that it might face sanctions if it did not stop the Janjaweed militia within 30 days.

     Golly. Khartoum sneered at that failure to take serious action by mobilizing 100,000 Muslim demonstrators on Sunday against the "Crusaders" threatening their holy land.

     That action galvanized the evangelicals to demand that the U.S. government take a more decisive role to prevent further "slaughter and death."

     NAE urged "massive humanitarian aid," of at least $100 million more, if the Europeans won't pony up. More important, NAE urged "active exploration of (ital) all (cl ital) available interventions options including sending troops to Darfur as has been proposed by the United Kingdom and Australia." It noted one option short of military intervention "would be dramatic expansion of the efforts of the African Union Protection Force by providing its soldiers and monitors with much-needed equipment and resources, toward the goal of securing humanitarian relief corridors." Today those troops lack walkie talkies, let alone significant troops or arms.

     The heads of such denominations as the Assemblies of God, the Christian Reformed Church, Free Methodists and the Evangelical Free Church joined seminary and college presidents and the editor of Christianity Today in demanding that Sudan be kicked off the UN Human Rights Commission, that Sudan grant visas to aid workers, and that it arrest and prosecute Sheif Musa Hilel, a former bank robber and killer who leads the Janjaweed militia.

     NAE concluded, "If...the United States government cannot end all evil in a large and complex world, it can nonetheless immediately adopt policies that limit today's persecutions and ensure greater fulfillment of inalienable and internationally recognized rights to freedom of belief and conscience....We vow never to commit the sin of silence whenever we learn of persecution."

     America could earn new respect among the world's Muslims by standing up to a bully who is slaughtering them.

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