Leading Darfur Activist Condemns Selective Humanitarianism, Al Sharpton

Slavery still exists in Sudan. The enslaved—of whom there are at least several thousand—are Christians, according to Simon Deng, who was himself enslaved as a boy by an Arab Muslim family.

Last night Mr. Deng spoke at a dinner hosted by The Hudson Institute, a Manhattan think tank, about conditions in Sudan, both for Muslims in Darfur and Christians in the country’s south.

Race and religion are not markers of decency for him—as one of the leading Darfur activists in the U.S., he has met with President Bush, as well as with Hillary Clinton and other congressional leaders, on behalf of Darfuri Muslims. But he also recognizes that in the current political climate, race and religion play a role in whose suffering counts.

“No one is talking about [slavery in Sudan] because the slave is a black African Christian and the enslaver calls himself an Arab,” he said.

In May, Mr. Deng went to Sudan with Christian Solidarity International (CSI) and helped negotiate the release of 200 human beings from slavery.

The massacre of Christians in South Sudan–more than two million slaughtered over the course of a 22 year civil war finally brought to an end due to the Bush administration’s 2005 peacemaking effort—received extremely little attention in the international media.

“If you compare what is happening in Darfur to what has happened in the South, what happened in Darfur is just a fraction of the atrocities, but we didn’t have [anyone] taking pictures.”

Now, the people of South Sudan are suffering and dying in untold numbers because Sudan’s Islamist government is violating the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, refusing to rebuild infrastructure in the South, and effectively starving the people by failing to share resources, Mr. Deng says.

Among those whose response has been inadequate to the horrors in South Sudan are Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, both of whom Mr. Deng has repeatedly reached out to. Neither has responded.

Mr. Sharpton did travel to Sudan with CSI several years ago but, according to Mr. Deng, has taken no substantive action to raise awareness about the plight of Christians there.

That didn’t stop Mr. Sharpton, however, from taking credit at the 2004 Democratic National Convention for fighting slavery in Sudan.

In reality, “he did nothing,” says Mr. Deng.

This entry was written by and posted on December 18, 2007 at 5:40 pm and filed under Blog.