Cross-posted from Blog for Darfur.
What’s it like to live through a brutal, 20-year war? Simon Deng doesn’t like to talk about it, but he will.
“I speak about it because I know what it is like to be a victim. I was there. I know what it means to be in a place where you are a refugee, to be in a place where your house is burned down. To be in a place where your family is slaughtered in front of your own eyes, where your relatives are raped in front of your own eyes. It is the same person who has been victimizing me in the south who is victimizing innocent people in Darfur. We are in the same boat.”
Simon Deng was abducted as a child and forced into slavery for more than three years, during which time he was repeatedly tortured, beaten, threatened – and eventually escaped. Today, Simon lives in the United States and tells his story, because he knows America can do more to prevent another civil war in Sudan.
“The problem in Sudan is not a Sudanese problem; it is a human problem. I am asking my fellow citizens and people of conscience to not be silent when we have the means to say something and stop something.”
Simon is absolutely right. We have the means to help stop something horrible from happening, and the clock is ticking. American leadership and global support for a free and fair referendum in South Sudan can help prevent a new wave of violence – a new civil war.
“I am troubled by the lack of full implementation, and by the roadblocks and delays consistently put forward by the Khartoum regime …” Simon is concerned that preparations for the referendum are behind schedule. Ballots have not been printed. Staff have not been trained.
We’re also behind schedule. To prevent another outburst of violence, the United States must convince the regime in Khartoum, ruled by wanted war criminal Omar al-Bashir, to stop stalling and start seriously preparing for the vote. Our government must demand that all parties in Sudan allow unimpeded access for peace keepers, humanitarian aid organizations, and robust human rights monitoring throughout the country. The United States must also demand that other nations – like China and Russia – respect the outcome of the referendum.
Southerners have warned of violence if a credible vote does not take place on time. The former Director of National Intelligence called Southern Sudan the place where a new mass killing or genocide is most likely to occur. Secretary of State Clinton has called the situation in Sudan a “ticking time bomb.”
We can help to prevent a war, but people must know about it. When was the last time you discussed the situation in Sudan? Do your friends know what’s at stake on January 9, 2011? Share this blog post with your friends and family.
Now is the time to hear directly from people affected by the violence in Sudan. That’s why I shared Simon’s story with you, and why you should share it with your friends and family. Spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, or email this message to as many people as you can.