Resolution Adopted by the CCAR

RESOLUTION ON RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION IN SUDAN

Adopted by the Board of Trustees
June, 2001

Background

Of the African nations currently engaged in civil war, Sudan has been at war the longest and seen some of the most heinous violations of human rights. The conflict in Sudan has cost the lives of over 2 million people and displaced nearly 5 million others, with no significant movement towards peace. The war is now over 18 years old, and the U.S. has done little to address the ongoing genocide, rape, torture, slavery, and religious persecution in Sudan.

The Muslim-dominated government in the north of Sudan has called for the Islamization of the country and have targeted the predominantly Christian and Animist populations in the South, utilizing ethnic cleansing, cutting off of food supplies, slavery, and destruction of the civil infrastructure as ways to enforce its control in the South. The Sudanese government intentionally and repeatedly bombed and burned hospitals, refugee camps, churches, schools, and other civilian targets. By manipulating foreign food aid, thereby denying civilians of food, the government brought 2.6 million South Sudanese to the brink of starvation in 1998 and some 100,000 people in fact did die of hunger, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development. Predictions are that such a famine may face the South in 2001. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that most international food aid is delivered through the Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) system which allows the government of Sudan to veto deliveries to particular regions.

In addition, the Sudanese government has continued its assault on the religious freedom of non-Muslims as well as some Muslims (particularly those either of Muslim sects not affiliated with the fundamentalist Islamist view of the government or Muslims associated with the political opposition). Religious groups must be registered by the government to operate legally, and approval can be difficult to obtain. Unregistered groups cannot build places of worship or meet in public, and even registered groups face difficulties.

That the government of Sudan has not yet prevailed in the war may be due to the fact that, until 1999, it was financially strapped, and in default to the IMF and other international lenders. In August 1999, the Khartoum government developed a joint venture partnership with foreign companies based on oil in South Sudan. This partnership has begun to provide windfall profits for the regime, as well as a critical source of new international respectability for the government. The proceeds from the oil revenues are being used to support the Sudanese military's actions. Though U.S. companies are barred by anti-terrorist sanctions from investing in Sudan, foreign companies investing in Sudan's oil pipeline are permitted to raise funds from U.S. capital markets. Talisman Energy of Canada and the Chinese government's PetroChina are Khartoum's two major oil partners, and are listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

The Canadian government commissioned a special governmental report on the situation. The so-called Harker Report (which is the documented source for most of the background material) was a ringing condemnation of the Sudanese government - but led to no significant steps led by the Canadian government.

There is ample evidence indicating that the human tragedy in Sudan is worsening. In 2000, the government of Sudan more than doubled its bombing campaign of humanitarian and civilian targets in southern Sudan.

As North American Jews who believe in religious freedom, we can never be indifferent to religious intolerance nor to ethnic cleansing no matter where it occurs. When others are hounded or persecuted for their religion or beliefs, we are diminished by our own failure to act or speak out. We must use our moral and political influence to galvanize the international community to stop the brutal actions of the government of Sudan.

THEREFORE, the Central Conference of American Rabbis resolves to:

1) Call upon the United States and Canadian governments to promote peace and security throughout Sudan by following the steps, based on the recommendations by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom:

  1.     Intensify U.S. support for the peace process in Sudan and make a just and lasting peace a top priority of this administration's global agenda. Towards that end, we applaud President's Bush's appointment of Andrew Natsios as special humanitarian coordinator to monitor aid deliveries in Sudan, and urge the President to appoint a person of high national stature to be special envoy who will have appropriate authority and access, whose sole responsibility is directed to bringing about a peaceful and just settlement of the war in Sudan and an end to the religious freedom abuses committed by the Sudanese government and the militias associated with the government;
  2.     Increase the amount of its humanitarian assistance that passes outside of Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) and press OLS to deliver aid wherever it is needed, especially the Nuba Mountains, with or without the approval of the Sudanese government;
  3.     Increase its food, civilian infrastructure, and civil society assistance to southern Sudan;
  4.     Launch a major diplomatic initiative aimed at enlisting international pressure to stop the Sudanese government's bombing of civilian and humanitarian targets; ground attacks on civilian villages, feeding centers, and hospitals; slave raids; and instigation of tribal warfare;
  5.     Strengthen economic sanctions against Sudan and urge other countries to adopt similar policies. Among these steps should be: 1) the U.S. and Canada should prohibit any foreign company from raising capital or listing its securities in U.S. and Canadian markets as long as it is engaged in the development of oil and gas fields in Sudan;
  6.       Work to increase human rights and media reporting on abuses in Sudan, including supporting, diplomatically and financially, the placement of human rights monitors in southern Sudan and in surrounding countries where refugee populations are present; and,
  7.     Urge that companies doing business in Sudan should be required to disclose the nature and extent of that business in connection with their access to U.S. capital markets.

2) Urge our member rabbis to take a leadership role in their congregations/institutions to educate their constituents and the public on the gravity of the situation in Sudan, and encourage them, in the spirit of Jewish tradition and Jewish experience, to voice their commitment to and concern for the people of Sudan.