The Sudan Crisis

May 14, 2001

The Honorable George W. Bush
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

May 15th, 2001

Dear Mr. President:

Your strong denunciation of the egregious human rights violations of Sudanese Christians and other minorities by the Sudanese government is a welcome stance at a time when the world has been shocked by escalating violence against innocent Sudanese. In particular, the brutal treatment of Christians in Khartoum preparing for Easter observances provided yet another dramatic and tragic example of the ongoing suppression of Sudanese Christians. Your statement on May 3rd describing the crisis in Sudan as "a disaster for all human rights" expresses the outrage that many feel who have long advocated for a vigorous United States policy condemning a regime which has perpetrated acts of war against its own people.

As you know, the conflict in Sudan has claimed the lives of over two million persons and has left hundreds of thousands displaced, often without food and exposed to unremitting bombardments. It has long begged for resolution, and clearly nothing less than the full diplomatic energy of many nations, with strong leadership from the United States, can create sufficient urgency around the peace process in the Sudan to achieve results. Continued suppression of religious freedom, intensified violence against Christians and other dissidents, indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets including hospitals and schools, and the withholding of food as a means of warfare have all contributed to one of the most violent and protracted civil wars in recent history.

Almost as tragic as this twenty year conflict has been the inability of the international community to convince the Khartoum government to end violence against its people and to seek a just political solution as an alternative to the endless suffering of several million Sudanese. Under your leadership, Mr. President, and that of Secretary of State Powell, we have an opportunity to elevate peace in the Sudan as a priority of international diplomacy. Your recent comments and those of Secretary Powell indicate a commitment to this priority.

As a church leader acutely aware of the suffering not only of our Episcopal sisters and brothers in the Sudan but of innocent persons of all traditions and faiths, I urge you to express the leadership needed to mobilize the international community in a peace-making initiative that would convince the Khartoum government that continuing the oppression of southern Sudanese cannot succeed.

It would appear that the time is right for decisive action by your administration. The violence at All Saints Cathedral in Khartoum over Easter weekend and the bombing of civilian targets which followed, points to a greater willingness of the Khartoum government to commit crimes against its Christian citizens. The accumulation of weapons and war materials made possible by substantial earnings from oil exploration heightens concern that the Sudanese leaders will become even more confident in their ruthless pursuit of absolute control of all of Sudan and the imposition of even more repressive rule. This must not happen.

While I recognize the many priorities which demand your attention, I would hope that in the Easter season you would place peace in the Sudan among the highest priorities of your administration. I am grateful for your consideration of this plea and for your efforts to "turn the eyes of the world upon the atrocities in Sudan." Please know that our church stands ready to support you in such an effort.

Sincerely yours,

The Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold
XXV Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church, USA

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