U.S. Assailed for Shift in Its Sudan Policy

100 Religious and Rights Leaders Send Letter to Bush

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WASHINGTON, D.C., NOV. 20, 2001 (Zenit.org).- A U.S. "policy trade-off" with Sudan triggered an outcry from religious and rights leaders who charge that Washington is discarding human rights concerns in exchange for promises on terrorism.



A coalition of more than 100 American religious and civil rights leaders stated in a letter to President George W. Bush that such a trade-off "is neither acceptable nor in the national interest," said a press statement from Freedom House, which released the letter Monday.

In a May 3 speech, Bush indicated that Sudan was a litmus test of his administration´s human rights policy. The Khartoum government has been conducting genocidal attacks against Christians and animists in the south.

But after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, the United States "in exchange for information on terrorism, … has apparently rewarded Khartoum by removing obstacles to the lifting of UN sanctions and by blocking the passage of the Sudan Peace Act," said Freedom House (http://www.freedomhouse.org).

The letter´s signatories represent a cross-section of religious and black leadership.

Signatories included James Dobson, president of Focus on the Family; Kweisi Mfume, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Archbishop John Myers of the Catholic Archdiocese of Newark; George Weigel, senior fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center; and Father Richard John Neuhaus, president, Religion in Public Life.

The letter asserts that radicals carrying out terrorism in the name of Islam reflects a perversion of the religion.

It cautions American foreign policy not to assume that the radical regime in Khartoum represents either Islam or the will of the Sudanese people. The letter urges Bush to take steps to ensure that oil revenues not feed the regime´s terrorism within its borders.

On Monday, the new U.S. envoy to Sudan, John Danforth, said the United States wanted to be a catalyst for peace in Africa´s biggest country but had no specific formula, Reuters reported.