Pariah Politics

  Andrew Sawus was 16 years old when Sudanese soldiers decided he ought to convert to Islam. They tied Andrew's wrists and ankles together behind his back. Then, they began to kick, whip, and beat him, demanding that he renounce Christ. Andrew wouldn't do it, and he couldn't do it even if he'd wanted to: A blow to the head knocked him out, causing permanent brain damage. Now, multiply that scene by about five million Christians, and you'll have a rough idea of what's going on in Sudan today. The worst of it is, the United States is doing next to nothing to stop it. For 17 years, a bloody civil war has raged in Sudan over the North's attempts to impose Islam on the Christian south. Two million people have been killed--more than all the people murdered in Kosovo, Bosnia, Rwanda, Chechnya,and Somalia combined. Five million more Christians have been driven into the kinds of camps Andrew was a guest. When the Khartoum regime isn't starving Christians to death--a thousand a day by some estimates--it's bombing their churches or enslaving their children. Bad as the situation is, it's about to get worse. Last August, oil was discovered in southern Sudan. The Khartoum regime began working with China, Malaysia, and a Canadian oil company to build an oil pipeline. Now, Sudanese leaders have an even stronger motive for driving Christians from their lands. What is the West doing about it? Madeleine Albright rightly castigated Canada for its involvement with the pipeline, though it won't stop them. But last month, in an act of astounding hypocrisy, Albright gutted President Clinton's executive order placing sanctions against Sudan: She lifted the restrictions on the importation of gum arabic, a key ingredient in soft drinks and cosmetics. Symbolically, this action is devastating. American companies could buy their products from Chad. But when they buy it from Sudan, they're telling its dictators they don't have to stop the killing to re- establish relations with the West. And we're telling the rest of the world that we don't really care what Sudan is doing to our fellow believers. And if these people are suffering now, when Sudanese leaders are bankrupt, what's going to happen when they're rolling in money from oil and gum arabic? They'll have plenty of cash to buy tanks, missiles, and bombs--and finish off the Christians once and for all. Secretary Albright recently told religious leaders that "the human rights situation in Sudan is not marketable to the American people." What a shocking statement. You and I ought to view that comment as a challenge to sear the conscience of America. If we don't use the power of democracy--one of the great gifts of the Judeo-Christian tradition--then we'll be complicit in what is shaping up to be a twenty-first century holocaust. If you call BreakPoint, we'll send you a copy of a letter sent to President Clinton, signed by me and 150 other religious leaders. You'll learn exactly what you can do to help end the suffering in Sudan. If we want to help the families that are suffering and dying, we must recognize Sudan's behavior for what it is: Deliberate genocide. God help us if we ignore it.


Chuck Colson


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