FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 2, 2001
Lawrence J. Goodrich, Communications Director, (202) 523-3240, ext. 27
Washington -Michael K. Young, Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, wrote October 2 to former Sen. John Danforth, Special Envoy for Peace in Sudan, with a four-point set of policy recommendations for his talks with the government of Sudan.
"During this period of war against terrorism, we again urge the Bush administration to press all sides of the conflict in Sudan to respect basic human rights and religious freedom and to make a just and lasting peace in Sudan a top administration priority," Young wrote.
Under the recommendations, the Sudanese government should enter into a comprehensive cease-fire with the opposition; lift all bans on food-relief flights; show a good-faith commitment to participation in internationally monitored peace talks; and guarantee religious freedom.
The four points in detail are as follows:
The Government of Sudan (GOS), including all its allied militia, should enter into a comprehensive and conditioned ceasefire with the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement and Army (SPLM/SPLA) and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) that would apply to all areas of the country and be subject to monitoring by international observers.
As an essential condition of the ceasefire, the GOS should agree either to cease the extraction of oil in the country, or to place its oil revenues in an internationally-administered trust fund to be expended solely for development and humanitarian purposes on an equitable basis in both the north and the south. The Commission, as well as other independent observers, has found that the GOS's petroleum industry is funding Khartoum's war against Sudanese people in the south and central parts of the country.
The ceasefire would include that the GOS permanently cease aerial bombardment and ground attacks, as well as undertake measures to eradicate slavery.
The GOS should lift all bans on relief flights and permit full access to international humanitarian assistance in all areas where the United Nations identifies needs.
The GOS should demonstrate a good faith commitment to and participation in internationally-recognized and -monitored peace talks based upon the Declaration of Principles developed under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and already agreed to by the GOS and the SPLM/SPLA.
The GOS should guarantee and enforce the universally recognized right of religious freedom. This right is guaranteed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the GOS is a signatory, and includes the freedom of everyone "to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching" (Article 18, Section 1). This right also ensures that "(n)o one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice" (Article 18, Section 2).
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom was created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to monitor the status of freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief abroad, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related international instruments, and to give independent policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and the Congress."
Michael K. Young,Chair
- Felice D. Gaer, Firuz Kazemzadeh, Richard D. Land, Bishop William Francis Murphy, Leila Nadya Sadat, Nina Shea, The Hon. Charles R. Stith, The Hon. Shirin Tahir-Kheli, Steven T. McFarland, Executive Director