Letter: Board wastes money and lives

Every April we hear grand political pronouncements about preventing genocide and to “Never Forget!”

April, the month in 1945 when U.S. troops liberated Nazi concentration camps, is also the month when genocide broke out in Rwanda in 1994. To make such pronouncements in an obligatory and perfunctory manner mocks the horror that the victims and survivors experienced, and undermines real efforts to help those today who face similar evil.

Today, genocide is ongoing against the Nuba people of Sudan, but one would never know it by the silence of our president, his Atrocities Prevention Board, and the media.

Announcing the establishment of the APB, during a talk at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on April 23, 2012, President Barack Obama stated: “Last year, in the first-ever presidential directive on this challenge, I made it clear that ‘preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States of America .…’ It’s why I created a new Atrocities Prevention Board, to bring together senior officials from across our government to focus on this critical mission. This is not an afterthought. This is not a sideline in our foreign policy.”

Government of Sudan (GoS) planes have daily bombed civilians of the Nuba people for two years to create famine and starvation. Astonishingly, there was no mention of the Nuba by the president in his announcement, nor have they since issued a single statement, nor undertaken viable action to address this apparent continuance of genocidal activity by the GoS.

In the last five months, a group of over 50 genocide scholars sent four letters to the APB without a single reply. The letters call attention to the killing and starvation of the Nuba people, inquire about the APB addressing the crisis and strongly urge them to support establishment of humanitarian access to the Nuba for desperately needed food and medicine.

President Obama asserted the work of the APB is “not a sideline in our foreign policy.” Based on the seeming inactivity, pronounced lack of transparency and utter silence, the president’s words ring hollow.

“Vacuous promises are politics,” but with genocide it’s unconscionable. Especially as thousands die by torture of starvation due to terror bombs.

President Obama should get serious and honor his promise, or quit wasting our money on APB. Meanwhile, Nuba people die!

Slater Armstrong, director

Joining Our Voices Ministries

Baton Rouge