Letter to Bush Regarding Rapprochement with Sudan

«U.S. Appears to Be Willing to Tolerate Religiously-Based Internal Terrorism»

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WASHINGTON, D.C., NOV. 20, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Below is the text of a letter sent to President George W. Bush regarding U.S. overtures to the Khartoum regime following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

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November 19, 2001

The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We commend you for your leadership as our nation confronts the evil scourge of terrorism. We applaud your repeated affirmation that the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks reflect an ultimate perversion of religious faith, undertaken by radicals who traduce the great traditions of Islam.

We also recognize that national security urgencies necessitate cooperation with countries whose values we do not share and whose human rights practices we oppose. However, in the political context of forging alliances against terrorism, there is always a danger that our government may so compromise basic commitments to religious freedom and human rights that our national credibility and security will be undermined.

We fear that this may happen with respect to the government of Sudan.

Speaking of Sudan before the American Jewish Committee on May 3, you indicated that crimes of a «monstrous» sort are being committed by the government of Sudan. You proceeded to expressly identify some of them, including the fact that in south and central Sudan, the homeland of African Christians and traditional believers, two million have been killed, five million displaced, thousands have been taken as slaves and continue to be held in bondage, and many hundreds of thousands have been deliberately placed at risk of government-induced starvation. You then pledged:

«[M]y administration will continue to speak and act for as long as the persecution and atrocities in the Sudan last.»

In exchange for information on terrorism, said to have been given in late September, the United States has apparently rewarded Khartoum by removing obstacles to the lifting of UN sanctions and by blocking the passage of the Sudan Peace Act. In recent weeks, State Department officials have repeatedly praised Sudan for its «good cooperation.»

In removing Sudan´s status as a pariah nation, the United States appears to have done so without calling on the regime to end its campaign of atrocities that you so powerfully spoke out against. As such, your administration may have inadvertently signaled that the United States will overlook terrorism within Sudan´s borders in exchange for gestures and promises from Khartoum not to export it to our shores.

The evidence points to the horrifying prospect that Khartoum perceives it can wage terror at home without serious American concern or objection. Since September 12, the regime has increased its aerial bombardment of southern Sudan, killing innocent men, women and children, and destroying cattle. On October 4, Sudan´s First Vice president, rallying departing mujahiden troops leaving for the battle front, declared: «The jihad is our way and we will not abandon it.» On October 9, the regime bombed the UN´s World Food Programme forcing the United Nations to evacuate from areas of northern Bahr al Ghazal. It persists in denying extended permission to USAID to deliver relief to communities in the Nuba Mountains that the United Nations has identified as starving to their death. It continues to tolerate and condone slavery; in late September over 4,000 south Sudanese slaves, the vast majority of whom had been forcibly converted to Islam and subject to physical and sexual abuse, were freed by an international, faith-based group acting in defiance of the regime.

By rewarding and praising Khartoum at the very moment it is stepping up its bombing, starvation, and literal enslavement of religious minorities, the U.S. appears to be willing to tolerate religiously-based internal terrorism. We believe that even the perception of such a policy will increase contempt for the United States on the part of all terrorists, not only those in Sudan. In our view, it could cause America to be seen as a country willing to sacrifice people and principles to gain itself a short-term respite from terrorism.

For these reasons, we believe that any understanding apparently reached with Khartoum is inherently unstable; that regimes practicing religiously-based mass terrorism within their own borders will continue to support worldwide terrorism directed against the United States. We believe that such regimes will merely bide their time until current pressures on them abate. Indeed, in an October 9 article on Sudan´s participation in the anti-terrorism coalition, the Wall Street Journal quoted a senior aide to Sudan´s President Bashir as stating: «In the government, the main feeling is that we want to get America off our backs. We are not so concerned about their friendship.»

Mr. President, we urge you to reaffirm U.S. commitments against the terrorism systematically committed by the Khartoum regime. Specifically, we urge you to adopt as policy the four recommendations of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, which were endorsed by the U.S. Senate in November. These consist of pressing Khartoum to honor a comprehensive cease-fire while putting oil revenues in an internationally monitored trust fund, to lift bans on food relief flights, to join the IGAD peace talks, and to guarantee religious freedom. We appeal to you to give resolute priority to these policies in our relations with Khartoum.

In light of events of September 11, some have argued that «the United States doesn´t have time for human rights anymore.» We are confident you do not share this view. Your strong leadership in America´s dealings with Sudan will be a critical test by which much of the world will evaluate America´s determination to eliminate the terrorist scourge that confronts the civilized world.

We look forward with hope and concern to coming developments in the relations your administration establishes with the Khartoum regime.


–Nina Shea, Director, Center for Religious Freedom, Freedom House
–Diane Knippers, President, Institute on Religion and Democracy
–The Rt. Rev. Keith L. Ackerman, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Quincy
–The Very Rev. Canon David C. Anderson, President, The American Anglican Council
–Leith Anderson, Interim President, National Association of Evangelicals
–Major Nancy Banfield, Director of Women´s Programs, Salvation Army Southwest Ohio
–Rev. David Runnion Bareford, Executive Director, Biblical Witness Fellowship, Renewal Movement of the United Church of Christ
–Gary Bauer, President, American Values Coalition
–Dennis Bennett, Executive Director, Servant´s Heart
–Paul T. Bernetsky, Executive Director, Youth for the Third Millennium
–Charlie Butts, Religion Editor, USA Radio Network
–Commissioner John Busby, National Commander of the Salvation Army
–The Most Rev. Fabian Bruskewitz, Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska
–David Bryant, Chairman, America´s National Prayer Committee
–The Rev. Richard Cizik, Vice-President, Governmental Affairs, National Association of Evangelicals
–Lena Cuomo, Assistant Director, Science Technology Entry Program, State University of New York at Farmingdale
–Carey R. D´Avino, Attorney for the Presbyterian Church of Sudan
–Penna Dexter, co-host Point of View Talk Show
–Dr. James Dobson, President, Focus on the Family
–Bernard Dobranski, Dean, Ave Maria School of Law
–William A. Donohue, President, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
–The Rt. Rev. Robert W. Duncan, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh
–Jean Dunethan, President, Holy Spirit Studies Institute, Ltd.
–John Eibner, Director, Christian Solidarity International
–The Rt. Rev. Andrew Fairfield, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of North Dakota
–Rev. Walter Fauntroy, Director, National Black Leadership Roundtable
–Christopher A. Ferrara, Esq., President & General Counsel, American Catholic Lawyers Association
–Deborah Fikes, Director, BASIC Ministries Inc., Midland, Texas
–The Rt. Rev. William C. Frey, Bishop (Retired), Episcopal Diocese of Colorado and Guatamala
–The Rt. Rev. James Edward Folts, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of West Texas
–Brian J. Gail, President, GailForce Communications, Inc.
–Pastor Jim Geist, New York City Director, Interfaith Alliance for Christian Human Rights
–The Rev. James E. Goode, OFM, PhD., President, National Black Catholic Apostolate for Life
–Ted Haggard, Senior Pastor, New Life Church, and Co-founder, World Prayer Center
–William J. Hamel, President, Evangelical Free Church of America
–Pastor Ray Hammond, Beth-El A.M.E., Boston, MA
–The Rt. Rev. Robert J. Hargrove, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Western Louisiana
–The Rev. David R. Harper, Chair, SOMA (Sharing Of Ministries Abroad), International Anglican Mission Organization
–The Rt. Rev. Edward Haynsworth, Assistant Bishop (Retired), Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina
–James V. Heidinger II, President, Good News, United Methodist Church
–Hugh Hewitt, Broadcast Journalist
–Norman Hill, President, A. Philip Randolph Institute
–Steve Hohenberger, Pastor, Heritage Presbyterian Church, Warrenton, Virginia
–Jess N. Hordes, Washington Director, Anti-Defamation League
–Michael Horowitz, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute
–The Rt. Rev. John W. Howe, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida
–Kathleen Hunt, President, Peter´s Voice, Inc.
–Charles Jacobs, President, American Anti-Slavery Group
–The Rt. Rev. Stephen H. Jecko, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Florida
–The Rt. Rev. David Colin Jones, Bishop Suffragan, Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
–Dean Jones, Actor and President, Christian Rescue Committee
–Adrian Karatnycky, President, Freedom House
–Karl Keating, President, Catholic Answers
–Dr. D. James Kennedy, Senior Pastor, Coral Ridge Ministries
–Joop Koopman, Senior Vice President/Editorial Director, American Catholic
–Gary Kusunoki, Senior Pastor, Calvary Chapel Rancho Santa Marguerita
–Dr. Richard Land, President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Southern Baptist Convention
–The Rt. Rev. John B. Lipscomb, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida
–The Rt. Rev. Edward S. Little, II, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana
–Joe Madison, Nationally Syndicated Talk Show Host, Radio One/XM
–The Rt. Rev. Larry E. Maze, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas
–Faith J. H. McDonnell, Coordinator, Church Alliance for a New Sudan, A project of IRD
–The Rev. Herb McMullen, Episcopal Standing Commission on International Peace and Justice
–Dr. James Merritt, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Snellville, GA; President Southern Baptist Convention June 199-June 2002
–Kweisi Mfume, President/CEO, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
–James S. Mulholland, Jr., President, Freedom, Justice and Peace Society
–Bishop Dr. Robert A. Morey, President, Research and Education Foundation
–Jimmy Mulla, President, Southern Sudanese Voice for Freedom
–Amb. Aurel Munteanu, Acting President, Institute on Religion and Public Policy
–William J. Murray, Chairman, Religious Freedom Coalition
–The Most Reverend John J. Myers, Archbishop, Catholic Diocese of Newark, New Jersey
–The Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, President, Religion in Public Life
–Mark Palmer, former Ambassador and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State
–Janet Parshall, Nationally Syndicated Talk Show Host
–Dr. Paige Patterson, President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; Former President, Southern Baptist Convention (1998-2000)
–Bradford Phillips, President, Persecution Project Foundation
–James Phillips, Research Fellow, The Heritage Foundation
–Rev. Keith Roderick, Secretary General, Coalition for the Defense of Human Rights
–Adrian Rogers, Senior Pastor, Bellevue Baptist Church; Former President Southern Baptist Convention, 1980, 1987, 1988
–The Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina
–Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
–The Rt. Rev. John-David Mercer Schofield, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin
–Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, Chairman, Traditional Values Coalition
–L. Faye Short, President, RENEW Network of the Methodist Church
–Chuck Singleton, Pastor, Loveland Church; President, Revolution Television
–The Rt. Rev. William J. Skilton, Bishop Suffragan, Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina
–The Most Rev. Edward J. Slattery, Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Tulsa, Oklahoma
–Maria Sliwa, Founder, Freedom Now News
–Steven Snyder, President, International Christian Concern
–David M. Stanley, Chairman, United Methodist Action
–Bruce Stewart, Head of School, Sidwell Friends School
–Dr. Jack Stone, General Secretary, Church of the Nazarene
–Leon J. Suprenant, Jr., President, Catholics United for the Faith
–Ken Tamplin, Tamplin Music (A Major Motion Picture Soundtrack Company)
–Teresa Taylor, Executive Director, Survivor´s Rights International
–Susan Toscani, Executive Director, Catholic Women @ Work
–John Tuitele, Board Chairman, Prayer for the Persecuted Church
–Lt. Col. Richard T. Ulyat, National Secretary for Program, The Salvation Army
–George Weigel, Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center
–The Rt. Rev. Roger J. White, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee
–Tom White, Director, Voice of the Martyrs
–James Woolsey, partner, Shea & Gardner; former Director, Central Intelligence Agency

*Affiliations are for identification purposes only. All signatures are on file at the Center for Religious Freedom, Freedom House.

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