|8/02/2005: Sudan: High-level U.S. Engagement Needed to Secure Peace and Promote Human Rights Following Garang's Death|
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) extends its condolences to the people of Sudan on the death of First Vice President Dr. John Garang. Dr. Garang, with whom the Commission met in the past, was a key figure in negotiating an end to Sudan's 23-year-long North/South Civil War, in which religion had been an important factor.
Since the inauguration of Sudan's Government of National Unity on July 9, Dr. Garang had been engaged in the complex process of integrating his Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement into Sudan's new national and regional political structures and in beginning the work of preparing Southern Sudan for a popular referendum on independence in six years time. Dr. Garang was a voice for fair treatment for all of Sudan's marginalized peoples, including most recently the Muslim Africans of Darfur who have been subjected to genocide by the ruling elite in Khartoum.
In light of the loss of Dr. Garang, the Commission believes more than ever that U.S. leadership is crucial for peace for Sudan. In order to ensure that peace, stability, and reconciliation are achieved in Sudan, the Commission continues to recommend that the U.S. government:
"The Commission is convinced that U.S. leadership and sustained engagement are necessary to make peace in Sudan a reality, and that respect for human rights, including freedom of religion and belief, is crucial to securing lasting peace," said USCIRF Chair Michael Cromartie. "No other government or outside agency is better placed than the United States to assist the Sudanese in developing their indigenous capacity to protect and promote human rights in the six-year transitional period during which they will draft a new permanent constitution and prepare for a popular referendum on the future of the South. Without such U.S. leadership, Sudan is likely to witness yet more massive human tragedy, to serve as a breeding ground for international terrorism, and to engender regional instability and conflict."