Sunday, May 29, 2005

Sudan – The Bush Administration Remains Silent
Sudan – The Bush Administration Remains Silent

Over the past few months, President Bush has often talked about spreading freedom and democracy to places like Iraq and Afghanistan, and how it is a priority for his administration. When it comes to the Sudan, however, President Bush has been silent and unwilling to lead the world in stopping the ultimate threat to freedom and democracy: genocide. In fact, in recent months, his administration seems to have made a shift from condemning the Sudanese regime to accommodating it. During the past two years, hundreds of thousand of people have been systematically killed in Sudan in what an official State Department investigation confirmed as genocide. And while there is some good news – NATO pledging air support for the African Union peacekeepers and additional money pledged from international donors – the silence coming from the United States government is deafening.

* President Bush should at least mention Sudan and the genocide. It has been 137 days since President Bush last mentioned Sudan or the genocide. And the last time he talked about the Sudan, it was to praise the work of humanitarians; he made no mention of the ongoing massacre. While President Bush stays silent, the Coalition for International Justice estimates that 500 people die in Sudan every day.

* The White House must support accountability in Sudan – not oppose it. A bipartisan group of senators, led by Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Jon Corzine (D-NJ), introduced the Sudan Accountability Act, which passed the Senate unanimously. The act calls for $90 million in U.S. aid for Darfur; for freezing the assets of the perpetrators of the genocide; for accelerating assistance to the African Union mission in Darfur; and for establishing a no-fly zone over the region. But instead of supporting the bill, the White House has fought against it. On April 25, the White House sent a letter to its congressional allies in the House instructing them to delete the provisions about Darfur.

* The Bush administration should call it what it is – genocide. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell called what was going on in Darfur genocide, but the Bush administration has since backed away from that claim. On a recent trip to Sudan, Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick equivocated, stating that according to a recent U.N. study, what was happening in Darfur were crimes against humanity, and not genocide. He then grossly understated the number of people killed in Sudan, stating that he believed the number was between 60,000 and 160,000 people. Most experts agree that the real number is closer to 400,000.