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Torture survivor calls for rethink on US policy on Sudan

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March 15, 2014 (WASHINGTON) – A Sudanese-born torture survivor has called on US president Barack Obama calling to reconsider his administration’s policy on Sudan in light of the recent escalation in violence in Darfur.

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There are calls for US president Barack Obama to reconsider his government’s policy on Sudan following a fresh wave of violence in Darfur (Photo: TJ Kirkpatrick/Corbis)

In the latest letter in a series sent to the US government to highlight ongoing atrocities in Sudan and call for change, human rights activist Mohamed Elgadi said the current US policy on Sudan is heading in the wrong direction, saying it should be should be based on a broad political solution that addresses the underlying roots of conflicts in the country.

Elgadi said US policy toward Sudan should be based on a political solution that addresses all of Sudan.

He has called on the US to refrain from dealing directly with those responsible for human rights abuses and to consider a broad-based sanctions system that targets key individuals.

Elgadi’s is the fifth letter sent to president Obama from Sudanese genocide survivors from Sudan’s conflict zones of Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile, as part of an initiative coordinated by advocacy group Act for Sudan.

The latest letter comes amid soaring tensions in Sudan’s western Darfur region, with an estimated 50,000 people left homeless after fighting erupted late February in South Darfur between rebel groups and local militia.

Some 45 villages in the Um Gunya area, about 50km south of the South Darfur state capital, Nyala, were attacked, with widespread reports of killings, looting and arson.

An estimated two million people have already been displaced in Darfur, which has been mired in conflict since 2003 when insurgents took up arms against the Khartoum regime.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued arrest warrants for Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir and other senior government officials in connection to their alleged role in directing genocide and war crimes in the Darfur region.

Elgadi, meanwhile, has condemned the US government’s continued communication with senior figures in the Sudanese regime alleged to have overseen killings and torture, including former presidential adviser Nafie Ali Nafie and Islamist opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi, who received invitations to visit the US.

“Seeking guidance from leaders who torture their people is a fearful sign of regression in the US foreign policy,” Elgadi writes.

“The regime in Sudan has been committing crimes against humanity for the past 24 years. The US, along with many other countries, has become complicit by its inaction or indifference,” his letter continues.

Both Nafie and Turabi have been implicated in the creation and subsequent cover-up of Sudan’s so-called ‘ghost houses’, a feared government-sponsored system of torture and secret detention that is reportedly still operational across the country.

Elgadi himself was held in a ghost house for 118 days after being arrested at a peaceful protest where he says he was subjected to up to 30 different methods of torture, including sexual torture.

Elgadi later fled Sudan and was granted asylum in the US, where he continues to champion human rights issues in Sudan.

Act for Sudan, an alliance of American citizen activists and Sudanese born US residents, has been a vocal critic of the US administration’s track record on Sudan, describing the Obama government’s approach to ongoing government-sponsored violence and abuses in Sudan as “disastrous”.

“This approach has failed to prevent the tragic loss of countless civilian lives and the mass displacement and starvation of countless more innocent people,” the group said in a statement last week.

“The United States has a stake for national security reasons, as well as humanitarian reasons, in stabilising this region,” the statement adds.

The group is calling on the US to adopt a pro-democracy policy on Sudan that affords protection for civilians and is based on separation of religion and state and respects human rights.

(ST)

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