The Importance of the Diaspora Community

Posted by Scott Gration
March 25, 2010
Special Envoy Gration Meets With Diaspora in Pittsburgh

About the Author: Major General (Ret) Scott Gration serves as the U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of participating in the "Way Forward on Darfur and South Sudan Pittsburgh Summit." The event was organized by the Pittsburgh Darfur Emergency Coalition and hosted by Carnegie Mellon University. I spoke at the main event on Saturday evening along with former President of the Save Darfur Coalition Jerry Fowler, Head of the Government of Southern Sudan Mission to the United States Ezekiel Gatkuoth, and Diaspora representatives. The theme of my remarks was “Goals of American Policy in Sudan: Problems and Prospects.” I spoke about what the United States Government is doing to end the violence in Darfur and fully implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. I spoke in detail about the preparations and concerns regarding the upcoming national elections as well as progress and challenges surrounding the Doha peace process for Darfur. More importantly, I listened to the thoughtful recommendations of the Diaspora participants.

Approximately 250 people attended the event, including 50 members of the Diaspora from both Darfur and South Sudan, and many activists and students. On Sunday morning, I attended a breakfast with conference participants where I had the pleasure of speaking informally with many members of the Diaspora and advocacy group community.

I found this event extremely valuable, and I would like to thank all the members of the Diaspora for their engagement and thoughtful questions and comments. Members of the Diaspora have a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise to offer, and I look forward to continuing to engage with them throughout my tenure as the Special Envoy to Sudan.

Thank you for your continued interest, Scott.



Mark H.
Tennessee, USA
March 25, 2010

Mark H. in Tennessee writes:

Mr. Gration,

We completely understand the importance of the Darfur diaspora community, as well as the IDP and refugee community in Africa. However, I am gravely concerned by certain statements you have said over the past several months which raise heavy concerns around the entire U.S. policy towards Sudan.

In particular, your time spent before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health on December 3, 2009, in which you reluctantly stated to Senator Brownback that we are negotiating with a government that has and is committing genocide.

Now, with a sham electoral process underway in Sudan, coupled with the upswing in violence in Jebel Marra Darfur and the ongoing ethnic violence being instigated, funded, and supplied by Khartoum, it is clear that this regime is bent on doing whatever it takes to stay in control.

There is also to consider that there is a severe lack of civilian education surrounding the electoral process. The ballots are no longer being printed in the original place they were supposed, instead being printed in Khartoum were they can be easier manipulated. Radio stations speaking out against the SPLM as well as the GoS have been raided. Why are we continuing to trust a government that has murdered 2 million in southern Sudan and hundreds of thousands in Darfur through violence and the effects of violence? Why is my government paying $95,000,000 of U.S. tax-paying dollars, some of them my own, to only legitimize and indicted war criminal?

Sandra H.
Rhode Island, USA
March 26, 2010

Sandra H. in Rhode Island writes:

Darfuris living in the USA should have regular meetings with you. And they should have a direct line of communication with you, be it email or phone. What they "know" isn't valued enough by your office. And certainly what they and their families have lived isn't respected enough. Your words have continually dismissed their lives' experiences. Words such as "...remnants of genocide", "We've got to think about giving out cookies. Kids, countries -- they react to gold stars, smiley faces, handshakes, agreements, talk, engagement.""Darfur happening" instead of saying the word: Genocide. All undermining their truths. And the ousted humanitarian agencies have not been sufficiently readmitted to do the life saving work that they were providing before they were kicked out a year ago by Bashir.

"Carrots" as a means to deal with Bashir's "history of lying" regime will not work. You can talk, oversee signed agreements with Bashir and then wait. And not long, for he breaks the promises of peace he gives every time. And justice isn’t even in the conversation. Justice first, peace will follow.

Why are you acting like Bashir is trustworthy? The world of Bashir likes a world of us who gives him license to commit crimes against humanity and have no consequences. You hand him exactly what his behavior feeds on. No accountability.

GENOCIDE WILL only STOP WITH US - Our leaders have taught us this

The letter below was received from President Obama.

Dear Sandra H.,

Thank you for your letter urging action to end the genocide in Darfur. I share your outrage over the hundreds of thousands of lives lost, and the suffering of millions more. It has gone on for far too long. Bringing relief to the battered region of Darfur is a top priority for my Administration.

As President, I will build on America's efforts that I previously championed in the Senate. I led in calling for the joint African Union/United Nations peacekeeping force now on the ground, and insisted on comprehensive sanctions against the Khartoum government. Going forward, my Administration will continue this work withunstinting resolve to end the genocide.

In my discussions with other nations, I will work to ensure that tough sanctions on the Khartoum government continue as a part of a growing global effort involving our allies, interested countries, and other multilateral institutions. It is equally critical that we focus on the civilians who are in dire need of life-saving assistance. I will work with Congress to provide necessary humanitarian aid because America must lead with our words and our actions.

Thank you again for expressing your concern about this human catastrophe we are working hard to address. It is very encouraging to hear from Americans like you who act not on self-interest, but on a moral imperative. Our action and leadership will demonstrate who we are as a Nation and as a people.


Barack Obama

I am waiting to see the legacy about genocide and in particular Darfur and Sudan of this administration.

If you want peace, work for justice

March 29, 2010

Susan writes:

@ General Gration,

I believe that your talk of listening to Darfuris is insincere. The reality is that both Darfuris in the Diaspora and Darfuris in IDP camps have lost hope that the United States will work toward justice for those who have committed war crimes in Sudan and toward peace and restitution for the hundreds of thousands of victims of the Darfur genocide. While you speak of progress and peace deals, the Government of Sudan is murdering more civilians in Jebel Marra. Why are you and the Obama Administration turning a blind eye to the facts on the ground and the ongoing human rights violations by the Sudanese government? Many of us elected President Obama because he promised to act to end the Darfur genocide. Under your management, the U.S. Sudan policy has been disastrous for the victims in Sudan.

Mohamed S.
California, USA
March 27, 2010

Mohamed S. in California writes:

It is a year now since you were appointed as Special Envoy of President Obama to Sudan. A year has passed and Darfur hasn't seen peace, justice, or security. A year has passed and the government of Albashir emerges as more confident to continue to rule Sudan, elections or no elections, with impunity.

Thanks to your policy that emboldened a government headed by an indicted war criminal to bomb civilians in Jebel Marra while signing "peace treaty" in Doha.

No justice, NO peace.

Mohamed S.
A Darfuri in Diaspora

Gabriel S.
California, USA
March 28, 2010

Gabriel S. in California writes:

Mr. Gration:

You continue to announce that you "listen" to Darfuri diaspora and people affected on the ground, but your policy implementation never seems to reflect what we continue to hear from those groups, that peace must be comprehensive, that there is no peace without justice, that elections are a sham that will only falsely legitimize an indicted war criminal, and that they feel that their views are not represented.

You continue to celebrate great progress, with little to no mention of bombings, killings, and displacement that is happening as you celebrate.

Ambassador Susan Rice has a very different view of what is happening in Sudan. Please consult with Ambassador Rice and do more than "listen." Move towards effective pressure and consequences that will bring true and lasting peace, protections, and justice for all people in Sudan.

March 28, 2010

Susan M. writes:

General Gration,

I am alternately perplexed, disheartened, and infuriated by your management of the Sudan portfolio.

You refer to elections that are clearly neither free nor fair as good "practice" and a step toward democracy. Yet those rigged elections will unfairly put in power an indicted war criminal. You also describe as "landmark" a peace deal that excludes the interests of the vast majority of the Darfuri people and that does nothing to protect their rights to return safely to their original homes with adequate restitution.

Given President Obama’s promises during the campaign, I believed that under his leadership the genocide in Darfur would end and that a just peace would be possible for Sudan. Now, both those results seem unlikely. I hope that you will reconsider your current strategy of appeasement and negotiation with the Government of Sudan and instead impose sanctions and consequences for human rights violations. Anything less constitutes U.S. complicity in ongoing war crimes.

California, USA
March 28, 2010

Martina in California writes:

General Gration - Did the members of the Darfuri Diaspora community tell you your statement that you will be too busy after the elections to focus on Darfur gives permission to Khartoum to continue the Darfur genocide with impunity? The U.S. Sudan policy has three purposes, one of which is to bring peace to Darfur. It does not state this goal ends with the elections. And, what did you tell th Darfuris why you are silent about the deaths and displacement in Jebel Marra? The current Doha talks will not lead to a lasting peace, so the U.S. will need to continue to find time for Darfur. Khartoum's acts constitute genocide -- they are not a happening or a distraction. The U.S. government's declaration of genocide in 2004 creates a duty to end it.

United States
March 28, 2010

Abdu in U.S.A. writes:

Hello Mr. President Barack, and your special Envoy.

First, let me say that, for the president I was one of your volunteers in Des Moines Iowa during the primaries, and I was counting on you once you get elected president to try to solve the issue in Darfur. You had hope and we had hope. Therefore, I have been following every single comment you made about Sudan, and Darfur particularly. As of now, I am very disappointed with your policies and the way your envoy has been dealing with our situation in Darfur. I worked with so many other Darfurians as well to make the indictment of the sitting ruler of Sudan Omar Al Bashir possible; nevertheless, things seem very foggy now since we(darfuris) are confused as why your envoy is making friends with a person who is admitted to have committed Genocide in Darfur and wanted by ICC. Is not that the States supposed to condemn atrocities and help victims but not the opposite? My request from Mr Scott is to take Darfuris who live in the U.S., and know how that Sudanese government functions and protects itself from being exploited seriously. Also, it would be better to recognize the problem and solve it from it's roots.

"In my discussions with other nations, I will work to ensure that tough sanctions on the Khartoum government continue as a part of a growing global effort involving our allies, interested countries, and other multilateral institutions. It is equally critical that we focus on the civilians who are in dire need of life-saving assistance. I will work with Congress to provide necessary humanitarian aid because America must lead with our words and our actions." Mr. president, I see this as a very contra to whats going on and the reason is that, if you put sections on the government like "weapons embargo" or other things that don't have direct effect on the government there to stop the massacre everyday because the they have enough weapons to lynch as many; then we(the darfuris) are the looser at the end of the day since Mr. Scott has already praised the Sudanese Government tens of times as we read and hear him talk! How sad! Oh, the election there is another messy fiesta but i am worried about is on going killing in Darfur everyday.

I hope things chage Mr. president and Mr. Scoot.

Abdu A.
Medical student & Activist

Mahgoub E.
Tennessee, USA
March 28, 2010

Mahgoub E. in Tennessee writes:

General Gration pledge to help Darfur and to prepare Sudan for a better stage of negotiations has been received with appreciation and respect. His meetings with Darfurians in and outside Sudan as well as many other Sudanese are extremely important. Meetings with external experts who know on both scholarly and personal grounds the Sudanese and their national concerns thoroughly well, for example the US-based Sudanese Studies Association, etc., are advisable.

The necessary way, however, to end the genocide, enforce justice and bring the sustainable peace and safe return of the victimized Darfurians to their misappropriated lands with full human dignity and effective compensations to be able to develop their own region, hinges on the firm insurance of full indiscriminate participation in both national and international decision making plans and processes for 1) all Darfurian armed groups and civil society associations in Sudan and in the Diaspora; and 2) the Sudanese supportive civil society and democratic parties side-by-side with the formal representation of pre-election or post-election Khartoum and Juba governments.

Time is our enemy!

The time is now for an All-Darfuri All-Sudanese Reconciliation Conference.

Elections in Darfur should be immediately postponed to ensure the full participation of all Darfurians. National consensus on this issue, except for the NCP ruling party, is already announced.

The challenge standing before the Sudanese, as well as America and the world, is to accommodate collective wisdom in the first place to end the crisis. For America and the world, the challenge will not be successfully met by acting on behalf of the Sudanese or by planning with or for some of them at expense of the vast excluded majority.

The Nivasha exclusionary strategies/tactics that played down the democratic forces of Sudan in the north-south peace negotiations, including major political groups and key civil society organizations, and the inevitable ensuing failures through the anti-democratic performance of the Government of Sudan (2005-2010), regardless of clear obligations in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement to act democratically in all instances, must indeed give way to the Sudanese national consensus to resolve the crisis in the closest cooperation possible with America and concerned parties.

Partial negotiations and other piece-meal approaches wherever or whenever they might occur would benefit only partisan governments of which the NCP-dictated government has thus far gained an undeserved upper-hand in the State to the detriment of Darfur, the whole country, and the concerned world.

A.J. F.
Idaho, USA
March 29, 2010

A.J.F. in Idaho writes:

General Gration,

The way you have handled the Sudan portfolio thus far is infuriating, and you continue to give “cookies and gold stars” to a government that continues to commit mass atrocities. How much longer does murder, displacement, and genocide have to go on, before you step up and accomplish the tasks to which your role was designated?

With continuing violence in the Darfur region and new violence between North and South Sudan- how can you stand idly by as more and more innocent lives are taken? Now is the time to apply pressure, consequences, and demand justice. By not doing everything in your power to ensure peace and safety for the people of Sudan, and by downplaying an extremely dangerous situation- you bring no justice and long awaited security to the millions of people in the region.

With the volatile regime of the LRA moving into Sudan, upcoming Sudanese elections, and the 2011 referendum- there is a lot at stake. Please further your involvement in a peace process and ensuring legitimate elections, and enforce much needed consequences upon the Government of Sudan.

Please, act now. Before it’s too late.

Steve P.
Pennsylvania, USA
March 29, 2010

Steve P. in Pennsylvania writes:

It was nice to engage Special Envoy, Gen. Gration.

Read the article below:

44 A.
March 29, 2010

P.B.A. writes:

sudan, special Envoy.

General,scott:thank you for your remarkabled duty that you carry on as a special Envoy of sudan, lete me exterme clear this point to you that khartoum is a collective death weather you knew or not you will see.

furthermore,frequently i review you speech regrads your mission to sudan and even presentation you had last couple weeks here in pittsbugh.thus, you are profound compaign to delivered khartoum out of international eye but, make sure khartoum has incapability to delete his diversities mistake. aganist you Mr Gration you supported ongiong Negiatation peace prcoess in Doha while the entire conutry considere that take is infancy and can not products the trust to end the war in wast sudan.

consequencely,gen Gration you will see war aganist khartoum and we ii' not comparemise as you do to legimize khartoum reconciliation to others something that we never dream of it.

Eric C.
Massachusetts, USA
March 29, 2010

Eric C. in Massachusetts writes:

General Gration - It's disheartening to see you being so careful to only say good things about Bashir and the NCP (while at the same time making a public display of appearing to be engaging Darfuris and activists). Failing to speak truth to power is a losing strategy, if your goal is to being peace and protection to Darfur. Not noticing, not speaking out, and not acting on the the situation on the ground will surely bring deadly results. Without grounding in the day to day, it is all too easy to get lost in the theories of policy, in negotiations, and in hobnobbing with international leaders.

The USIP recently held an event with Romeo Dallaire on the release of the case studies of Rwanda and Kosovo by the Montreal Institute The first lesson is a sobering reminder of the importance of staying close to the situation on the ground:

"Before the genocide began, excessive focus on the political peace process and the Arusha accords and inadequate attention to reports from the ground fueled Americas failure to anticipate the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Rwandans in 1994."

Envoy Gration - Please heed the lesson and attend to the situation on the ground in Darfur. As the leader for implementing US policy on Sudan, you must give priority to government attacks and civilian deaths in Jebel Marra, and to the problems of IDPs and refugees from Darfur, over the promises and papers you read in Doha. Secretary Clinton declared that the new US policy on Sudan would judge progress on the ground and impose consequences for lack of progress, rather than accept mere process or promises. Why are your actions diverging from the policy?

Khalid M.
United Kingdom
March 30, 2010

Khalid M. in the United Kingdom writes:

It is great to see Genaral (ret) Gration taking his difficult task so seriously, travelling to different continents and capitals in order to bring about peace and stability to Darfur and Sudan.Previous part-time envoys have discovered concerted attempts to intimidate them or deflect them from their mission. Admittedly,there are many conflicting points of view. A fair envoy should be open- minded ,the way Gen Gration is , without taking sides .His declared aim of helping to bring about peace and democratic transformation is identical with Sudanese national interests .He supports elections and the referendum and pushes for post-referendum issues to be tackled NOW.What more do we want from someone who is an" honest broker" with no axe to grind.

He deserves our respect ,especially when we see Sudanese leaders (like Abdul Wahid Nur) behaving as if the suffering of the displaced people does not concern them.

Thanks Gen Gration and good luck in your noble mission

District Of Columbia, USA
September 20, 2010

Demba in Washington DC writes:

Indeed the Diaspora has a lot to offer in the way the US assistance is provided to our homelands... For most, because of ineffective procedures tied to that aid, has led us to migrate since an uncontrolled, ill-informed aid decisions can ruin a country...

Fr the case of East Africa extreme care should be played in order to determine ins and outs of an AID strategy in soothing already deep wounds in the social fabrics...

Diaspora along with civil societies back home can help achieve our goals related to the MDGs... But then we have to understand what that Civil Society Organizations component is made of... and why?

Civil society's organizations (CSOs) -independent journalists, Diaspora movements, academics, consumer organizations, action committees, environmental advocacy groups- across board, demonstrated pragmatism in making sure the needs of the poor are satisfied and their rights respected. To date, most assessments conducted over CSOs emphasize on their involvement level within local development practices, showing not that much interest in defining their core characteristics. Indeed unlike NGOs, CSOs played an important role as facilitators of a broader policy dialogue before being identified as a succinct entity with a specific identity. Due to conclusive outcomes led by CSOs in the development arena, most donors stressed the importance of involving these organizations in all national consultation processes.
In Asia, due to ambiguity in local government affairs conduct, civil society organizations are engaged in an ever challenging identity definition.
In Africa, illiteracy is still jeopardizing the fate of many development opportunities, holding communities in hostage of their local governments.
In Eastern Europe and elsewhere new market driven approaches in the wake of biased political discourses make it even harder to bring visibility for an emerging civil society movement.
Overall, through better rationale definition and networking between and across various civil societies' organization platforms, we can still move forward from a result-based set of indicators aimed at streamlining the impact of civil society organizations within our respective communities. Due to risky and unpredictable setbacks from non CSOs counter synergies, support from donors is expected to allow actors reconnect with their ultimate stance while on a mission to making sure the needs of the poor are satisfied and their rights respected.

Look forward to networking hereby for more proactive strategizing within the Diaspora at large.


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