Last week I posted a story that I originally wrote for Breitbart National Security about Sudan’s Foreign Minister, Ali Ahmed Karti, being invited to the National Prayer Breakfast. (It turns out that this is not the first time that Karti has been to the Prayer Breakfast…)
IRD also issued a press release announcing that our Church Alliance for a New Sudan would sponsor a demonstration against Karti and another Sudanese government official, Ibrahim Ghandour’s, presence at the Prayer Breakfast, which took place last Thursday, February 5, 2015, in Washington, DC.
You can read more about Karti, whose illustrious career has included being the commander of the Popular Defense Force militia that assisted in the perpetration of genocide in South Sudan, Darfur, and the Nuba Mountains, as well as being in charge of Khartoum’s “ghost houses,” the infamous buildings where torture of dissidents took place. And you can also learn more about Ghandour, who did not come for the prayer breakfast, but is reported to have been invited to the United States by the State Department for meetings this week.
Since our initial announcement about America’s genocidal breakfast guests, most of the attention has been on President Obama’s speech (although the stirring testimony of the main speaker, NASCAR driver, Darrell Waltrip, and the powerful prayer of Samaritan’s Purse “Ebola Doctor” Kent Brantly, should not be overshadowed). But keep in mind, as President Obama condemned slavery in America, and the head of slave raids in South Sudan sat listening as an honored guest, a small band of Sudanese and American protesters stood outside as a witness to that outrage. Here’s what happened:
When we first arrived at the Washington Hilton, we were overwhelmed by the hundreds, if not thousands, of demonstrators either welcoming or protesting the Dalai Lama. We wondered if we would be completely drowned out by the constant drumming and chants of “False Dalai Lama, keep religion free,” from those who were protesting (very possibly funded and supported by the Chinese Communist government). But our small band of protesters — including Sudanese from the Darfuri, Nuba, Beja, Nubian, Blue Nile, and other people groups, along with their American c0horts — managed to speak out strongly for two hours about the presence of genocidal Sudanese leaders in Washington.
This video, created by one member of our demonstration, Nassr Haggam, captures our protest. The video features two interviews, one with me at 8:49, and one in Arabic with Abdalhaleim Hassan at 10:35. There is also a clip of a Catholic news agency interviewing Hawaa Salih Goma at about 7:00.
After the breakfast itself was over, and the presidential motorcade had taken off, six of us went into the hotel to attempt to engage prayer breakfast attendees who were remaining for the rest of the day’s events and tell them the truth about one of their fellow breakfast attendees. We had flyers to distribute to those who expressed an interest.
We did not get very far before we were stopped by hotel security. After accusing us of lying to him by saying we were waiting for someone (we actually were), he herded us out of the hotel and down the driveway to the sidewalk with the threat that we would be arrested if we entered the hotel again. (Now we see the violence inherent in this system!) So instead we got to know some of the pro-Dalai Lama/anti-Communism group that was waiting for their bus to go back to New York and compare stories of thug regimes.
Meanwhile, as we were once again out in the cold, it appears from news reports spreading all over Sudan that Foreign Minister Karti not only attended the National Prayer Breakfast, but was able to lobby unofficially on behalf of the National Congress Party/National Islamic Front regime. Karti’s spokesman, Youssef al-Kordofani, told the Sudan Tribune “Karti’s participation in the event is important because this prestigious forum allows to clarify facts about Sudan, pointing that the breakfast is attended by decision makers from the US and around the world.”
Kordofani added that “the foreign minister briefed the event [the prayer breakfast] about the situation in Sudan, the government efforts to end war in Darfur and the Two Areas, the national dialogue and the general elections.” He also said that Karti “held consultations with members of Congress about the bilateral relations, efforts to lift US sanctions on Sudan and the promotion of dialogue between the two countries.” It is not clear how much of this information from Kordofani is true and how much of this is Khartoum regime spin, but it is disturbing that they even have this much to work with — to allow spin to take place.
The only bright spot in this upsetting information was that our protest and other actions were noted. The Sudan Tribune reported that Kordofani addressed the protests as the “natural product of (Sudanese) opposition and pressure groups known for their hostility to Sudan.” When it comes to racist, radical jihadists who bomb their citizens from the air, starve them to death, make them slaves, and target Christians for persecution, I am happy for IRD’s Church Alliance for a New Sudan to be known as “a pressure group known for its hostility.” We will continue to post information of our own, to counter the disinformation of the Khartoum regime and hopefully to open the eyes of Christians whose desire for reconciliation with certain individuals has prevented them from being aware of the situation of millions of victims of those individuals.
Operation Broken Silence (OBS) has recorded the results of the #JustSayNo campaign that we first announced here in the IRD press release. In spite of only having a few days’ notice to mobilize, the campaign was very successful in petitions signed, tweets issued, and other measures. OBS also provides links to the statement of condemnation by U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Joe Pitts (R-PA), the co-chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission and the statement from the office of one of the co-chairs of the National Prayer Breakfast, Senator Roger Wicker, (R-MS). Once Wicker was made aware of Karti’s attendance, he was “uninvited” from the pre-breakfast meet and greet with Administration officials. In addition, The Baroness Cox, member of the House of Lords and CEO of Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART) issued a scorching statement — all the more scorching because she had just returned with a team from Sudan’s Blue Nile State, one of areas currently under attack by the Khartoum regime.
You may be interested in receiving the electronic version of this flyer, created by Mark Hackett, our colleague at Operation Broken Silence. Please email [email protected] if so. Although the Prayer Breakfast is over for this year, we want to ensure that perpetrators of genocide are not welcome at next year’s event and want these flyers disseminated widely, particularly to members of Congress. There should be guidelines to which the Fellowship Foundation, the organizers of the National Prayer Breakfast agree to adhere — such as, say, that no one who is actively committed genocide should be invited!