Sudanese-Americans to Trump: help us stop the bloodshed

by Heather Robinson


Sudanese-American activists gathered today in sub-freezing temperatures across from Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan to call on President-elect Donald Trump to do everything in his power to stop the bloodshed in South Sudan, the world’s newest country.

“There is a genocide going on in Southern Sudan and the Obama Administration has allowed it,” said Simon Deng, a human rights activist, escaped slave, and former swimmer on Sudan’s national team whose historic 2006 Freedom Walk gained him an audience with President George W. Bush and helped raise awareness about the Darfur genocide.

Hundreds of thousands – by some estimates half a million – Southern Sudanese, mostly civilians, have been killed since December 15, 2013, when a power struggle broke out between Southern Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his former deputy, Riek Machar. The fighting started in the capital and quickly spilled outside it, with civilians targeted along ethnic lines. Since then, women and girls have been systematically targeted for gang rape.

Sarah Rial, founder and executive director of global partnership for peace in South Sudan (GaPPSS), who works for a health management company, said she took the day off of work to stand in midtown and make this appeal for help from the incoming Trump administration.

Asked how she could stand for well over an hour in temperatures that, with high winds, were below zero, Rial said, “It is freezing here, but we have people in South Sudan who are literally being burned alive, as we speak, in a genocide.”

Deng, who organized the rally, took issue with what he characterized as the Obama Administration’s support for Mayardit’s government.

“American tax money should not go to a government that slaughtered half a million of its citizens,” said Deng.

In recent months, ten Sudanese-Americans who were visiting South Sudan were killed in the violence, and the Obama Administration has been silent about it, according to Deng.

“The Obama Administration is helping a government that killed ten American citizens, including an American hero, a Marine,” he said.

Rial explained that the “conflict in South Sudan has become tribal” – with different ethnic groups, the Dinka and the Nuer, pitted against each other.

“The tribe of the President [Salva Kiir] is dominant,” said Rial. “Not all Dinkas are bad people but the President has intimidated them, gotten fear into the people, and when that happens” violence can get out of control.

More to come.