🛑June, 20th 2018
Dear President Trump, Prime Minister May and Prime Minister Solberg:
The leadership of the SLM appreciates the concern voiced by the US, UK and Norway over the desperate plight of the civilian population of Darfur enduring continued, genocidal violence and state terror by the military and paramilitary forces of the Sudanese dictatorship. We further embrace your call for Khartoum to end the embargo on sorely needed humanitarian aid reaching the region, and to cease impeding access to the combined AU and UN peacekeepers in UNAMID. We have long called for both and not merely urged such measures but begged the international community to intervene decisively to lift the humanitarian blockade long used as a tool of subjugation and to strengthen the UNAMID mission, thus reforming its weak and severely constricted operational posture that barely qualifies as peacekeeping, while repeatedly appealing for the adoption of a more appropriate and muscular peace enforcement mandate that better corresponds to reality.
However, our sharply divergent understanding of what this reality constitutes, far away from the opulence of the White House, No.10 Downing Street and Inkognitogata 18, as we endure the horrors you are not witness to nor could ever imagine occurring on a daily basis in Washington, London and Oslo despite your own experience of terror, determines that we equally reject and decry the false equivalency in culpability for the most recent upsurge in bloodletting posited in your joint communique of June 19th.
In particular we take exception to your assertion that the SLM’s refusal to participate in the so called peace process is the key obstruction to the resolution of the crisis in Darfur and that we are antagonists responsible for callously prolonging the suffering of the civilian population. On the contrary, despite our limited means and isolation, where we fight with little more than our will to resist annihilation and dispossession, the refusal of the Sudan Liberation Army to capitulate, forms the only line of defense protecting the civilian population from the regime’s well established policy of extermination and ethnic cleansing that now includes the proven use of chemical weaponry, a subject you remain entirely mute towards, while condemning chemical warfare in Syria. SLA held liberated territory is the only sanctuary available to civilians in Darfur, imperfect as it is in the face of overwhelming government firepower that subjects non-combatants and combatants alike to routine artillery and aerial bombardments, gas attacks and as prevalent large scale incursions by government ground troops and the routine raiding, abductions, summary executions, gang rapes, torture sessions and razing of villages, that give weight to the charges brought by the International Criminal Court against President Omar al Bashir, as you are well aware, the sole sitting head of state indicted for War Crimes, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity.
But then the Sudanese tyrant enjoys a process of rehabilitation overseen by the US, UK and the European Union, while the Arab League, African Union and Organization of Islamic Cooperation, as the UN itself dithers, also avert their eyes and ignore his crimes against his own people. But they remain visible to us, as we are his victims. Your passive complicity is deeply painful to us, when anchoring our liberation struggle is a desire to free not only Darfur but the whole of Sudan. The crushing irony is that the dream we die for is to forge a pluralist and secular democracy in your own example.
When we are as committed as you are to confront Islamist extremism, we are incredulous you embrace a hardline Islamist dictatorship as a credible ally, that has not stopped fostering Salafist terror nor ceased its own state terror. In light of Russia’s aggressive stance towards the whole of the West, efforts to undermine both American and European democracy, clear menace to NATO, and key role in Syria antithetical to Western aims in the Middle East, it is as bewildering to witness your nations whitewash Khartoum when al Bashir is deepening his military ties to the Kremlin and Russian mercenaries now have a presence in Sudan.
Western democracy is failing the people of Darfur and Sudan as a whole and betraying its own values and strategic aims in so doing. It neither gives us much cause for optimism that the United States has walked away from the UN Human Rights Council and earlier the US State Department closed its War Crimes Office, just as the UN Security Council has not seen fit to reverse the decision to dramatically reduce the size of an already understrength and under-resourced UNAMID mission, against all logic.
Your selective criteria ignores that we are defending our ancestral lands from expropriation and that those of us that have taken up arms come from the very same families subject to slaughter and starvation. The people are the SLM and the SLM is the people. To equate our actions with those of the regime is akin to labeling the Jewish partisans in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943 as morally equivalent to the Nazi SS storm troopers sent to liquidate them. We will not acquiesce to being compared to genocidaires, especially when the US has eased sanctions on the regime, the UK is quietly training members of the security services and the EU is funneling hundreds of millions of Euros to active genocidaires. We remain as baffled that you insist we join a patently false and purely cosmetic peace process, where we find ourselves unable to register egregious human rights violations, a deliberately created humanitarian crisis and a scorched earth policy as good faith measures to foster constructive dialogue.
We urge all of you to better acknowledge that you are backing the wrong partner and the tide of history is against you. The Sudanese regime is in a state of growing collapse, the coherence of its institutions, like its social fabric, ruinous economy, dysfunctional government and even restive elements in the armed forces and ruling party all point to a looming failed state. The ferocity of the regime in Darfur and widespread repression across the country, seeking to quash the anger of a citizenry that has not seen the light of freedom since 1989, is not a display of strength but instead desperation, in the twilight of a doomed dictator seeking to avoid his Gaddafi moment.
We are not your enemy. We long instead for peace, prosperity and a free society to flourish, where with your aid in achieving this goal, you would find in us a lucid and faithful ally and partner in securing stability in Sub-Saharan Africa and the greater region. But brow beating us into submission and asking us to willingly go to our own execution, this betrayal of our own people, when we have buried more than half a million of them, though the UN inexplicably stopped counting the dead in 2008, is not something we will ever countenance.
In closing all we may offer in good conscience is for SLA troops to observe a ceasefire and return to their bases, if indeed international pressure will be brought to bear to concretely allow UNAMID to effectively protect civilians, patrol and uphold a clear demarcation line between ourselves and government forces and for unhindered humanitarian aid to flow into affected areas, displaced civilians having the right of return without fear of reprisal, the proposed dismantling of IDP camps be abrogated and all of Darfur opened to unfettered access to international media and human rights investigators. We have nothing to hide and would welcome such steps. But unless such conditions can be met, we will adhere to our God given right of self-defense if attacked and government aggression against us or the civilian population will not go unanswered militarily nor see us lay down our arms.
We sincerely doubt were it 1941 that the United States would have readily surrendered to Imperial Japan after Pearl Harbor, nor that Britain would have capitulated during the Blitz in 1940 when it stood alone against Nazi Germany after the defeat of the British Expeditionary Force and the fall of France or that the Free Norwegian Forces and resistance members would have ever given up their struggle against occupation after the valiant sacrifice of the Royal Norwegian Armed Forces against the same Nazi juggernaut. The Sudanese regime is also composed of fascists, militarists, butchers and ideological zealots, do not ask us to do what you would not do yourselves faced with the same circumstances.
Abdul Wahid al Nur, Chairman Sudan Liberation Movement & Commander in Chief Sudan Liberation Army