Sudan is the hell of the world," said Daniel Eiffe of Norwegian People's Aid at recent hearings sponsored by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. "Apartheid is nothing compared to Sudan," Eiffe said about the conflict that has killed 2 million people in the last decade and left another 4 to 5 million homeless. When the State Department-based commission was created in late 1998, some feared that it would be a mere lapdog for the status quo rather than a watchdog for anti-persecution activism. But after the commission's February 15 hearings on the Sudanese civil war, such doubters should take courage. The commission effectively brought government and media attention to the plight of Christians, animists, and moderate Muslims in the region.

For several years, Western Christians have focused on the plight of fellow believers in Sudan. Much attention has focused on the slave trade, and last year Christian ministries split about the effectiveness of slave-redemption programs ("Ransomed," CT, Aug. 9, 1999,

But the issues involved are much larger than the effectiveness of slave-redemption programs. They range from the relationship of relief and development agencies to the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (the SPLA demands "taxes" from most of the aid agencies) to the way in which American capital markets may fund development of the Sudanese oil business and thus funnel revenue to the oppressive Khartoum government.

Any effective campaign must press an enemy on multiple fronts. In the case of Sudan, activists advocate that such enemies as inertia, apathy, moral blindness, and greed must be attacked through trade sanctions, public protest, military aid, back-door diplomacy to negotiate ...

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