- The Washington Times - Monday, August 28, 2000

Maybe you are not interested in a faraway African despotism that in the past two decades has murdered about 2 million of its citizens, literally enslaved thousands more, that is still killing and enslaving every day of the year and that is now confident it is about to be elected a member of the highest council of the United Nations.

The motives of this continuing orgy of murder are that most of the victims happen to be Christian, the very wrong religion to suit the Islamicist rulers, and were born in a part of the country floating in a substance the government expects to make it a major power oil.

If you are not interested in Sudan or its death's-head gargoyle of a government, you are in large company. I have never heard the name of the country mentioned at any dinner anywhere in America.

And when was the last time you heard the current U.S. president or the two candidates to succeed him make a speech devoted to the Sudanese Islamic government in the north, and its massacres and scorched-earth policy against its southern people, who practice Christianity or African religions? Not a single delegate at the conventions brought up Africa's largest country and its gargoyle government.

A few American papers, TV stations and magazines a few have carried stories, sporadically. But if the entire press was on job-probation that depended on its judgment of the human, religious and political importance of continuing coverage of the Sudan horror, I would fire it right out the door.

But as always, Americans who do care find each other and devote part of their lives in small groups working to help Sudanese and remind them that the world has not entirely gone away.

And as always, there are "pragmatists" who sneer at the concept of American interest in human rights in distant countries. They warn we will get into endless war. My nose is as hard as theirs, but their heads are much softer.

Religious persecution unto death is a threat that has been proven infectious. Ignore persecution of Jews and one day persecuting Christians, Buddhist and people who commit unapproved exercise becomes common in China. Killing Christians becomes a way of governing in Sudan. The present aloof attitude of foreign Christians and Jews toward religious persecution of Christians is sinful, and a gutter vulgarity.

We stuff China with the fruits of our entire economy including American purchase of the stocks of Chinese oil companies controlled by the Politburo, a transaction arranged by the U.S. investment firm of Goldman-Sachs. In China, that could pay for arms, and prison camps to barrack religious and political dissidents.

In the Sudan, the dictatorship in Khartoum collects $1 million a day through the oil expertise of Canadian and Russian companies. With the money, it buys Western and Russian planes to bomb churches, hospitals and refugee camps, destroy relief supplies from abroad, set fire to crops and villages. That is an effective way to bring about everlasting terror and artificial famine.

From the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, created by Congress, comes an investigatory report with these flat statements: "The government of Sudan, is the world's most violent abuser of the right to freedom and belief" and "religion is intertwined with broader human rights abuses, the civil war, the ethnic strife and the attacks on civilian population centers and institutions." How does that sit, Canada?

The report recommends a 12-month "plan of incentives and disinsentives" Then if there is no measurable improvement in religious freedom, the United States would provide non-lethal and humanitarian aid to opposition groups. Seems strange to me wait a year to see if the killers of 2 million people are real sorry. Government bombs have killed most of the 2 million dead, but manufactured famines have done sickeningly well hundreds of thousands of corpses.

Without foreign oil contracts there would be no oil sales or low-flying bombers.

Now Sudan hunts additional profit status. You cannot kill people with it, but it does help you get away with murder.

There are 10 non-permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, which is supposed to help keep the peace or punish those who break it. Each geographical region selects its candidate for its seat. Africa rotates a seat this year. It made Sudan its one choice. Automatically, the killers of Khartoum would represent international peace and justice for the next three years.

The U.S. delegation, under Richard Holbrooke, also is hunting for an African-region candidate before voting time in the General Assembly this fall. Every U.N. member has a vote. Mauritius, 500 miles off the African coast, has been approached. Sudan might withdraw if it got some political gifts from America. We should give the killers only our disgust.

In the first paragraph of this article, I wrote of "faraway" Sudan. But Americans helping the tormented Sudanese know that a country where people are murdered by their own government, year upon year, is never really far away.



A.M. Rosenthal, the former executive editor of the New York Times, is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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