September 16, 2012
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Less than a year after the Obama administration came out against regime change in Sudan, it has ordered Americans to flee the genocidal Sudanese regime. A stronger stand early on might have avoided the current crisis, leading Holocaust scholars say.
Although Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir was indicted by the International Criminal Court for sponsoring the Darfur genocide, U.S. envoy J. Scott Gration said in 2009 that the administration was adopting a policy of “giving out cookies” and “gold stars” to encourage Sudan’s leaders to behave better. Gration’s successor as U.S. envoy to Sudan, Princeton Lyman, said last year: “Frankly we do not want to see the ouster of the [Bashir] regime, nor regime change…It is not in our interests to see the ouster of the regime in Sudan, for this will only create more problems.” (Asharq Al-Awsat, Dec. 3, 2011)
“Perpetrators of genocide do not deserve cookies or gold stars,” said Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, in Washington, D.C. “If the U.S. had pursued regime change in Sudan, Americans in Sudan today might not be fleeing for their lives. Appeasing genocidal dictators has never worked and never will.”
Bashir this week refused to let the U.S. send security personnel to guard the American embassy in Khartoum against violent mobs. As a result, the Obama administration has ordered U.S. diplomats and their families to flee the country.
Meanwhile, Bashir continues to carry out mass violence against non-Arabs in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains region. Nicholas Kristoff charged in the New York Times on June 7, 2012, that President Obama is “allowing Sudan’s leaders to get away with mass atrocities [in the Nuba Mountains] that echo Darfur” and “Once again, in Sudan there are starving children, tens of thousands of refugees, rapes and racial epithets, a spiralling death toll and passivity in the White House.”
The Wyman Institute also expressed its “deep disappointment” that the Atrocities Prevention Board, which President Obama launched five months ago, still does not an office, phone number, or email address. “How can the Board prevent atrocities if it doesn’t even have a telephone?,” Dr. Medoff asked.
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The Wyman Institute sponsors the “Bashir Watch” project, which tracks Bashir’s travels and encourages international action to arrest him. Other recent Wyman Institute efforts include:
— A June 2012 petition by 70 Holocaust and genocide scholars supporting Congressman Frank Wolf’s bill to cut aid to countries that host visits by Bashir.
— A January 2012 petition by 85 Holocaust and genocide scholars urging President Obama to condemn the Libyan government for hosting a visit by Bashir.
— A November 2009 letter by 220 prominent Christian and Jewish clergy, on the anniversary of the Nuremberg Trials, urging U.S. action to bring Bashir to justice.
— An October 2009 letter to President Obama by 119 rabbis, urging active U.S. intervention in Darfur.
— An August 2009 petition by 100 Jewish leaders to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, when he visited the U.S., criticizing him for welcoming Bashir to Egypt
— A July 2009 letter by 100 Holocaust and genocide scholars to the government of Uganda, praising it for discouraging Bashir from attending a summit in Uganda.