Letter: Congressman Wolf Introduces Bill Condemning Sudan

Dear Colleague:A humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Sudan and Congress must speak out. I have introduced H. Con. Res. 403 condemning the Government of the Republic of Sudan for its involvemnt in attacks against innocent civilians in the impoverished Darfur region of western Sudan.Raphael Lemkin in his book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe coined the word “genocide.” Greek word “genos” (race), Latin word “cide” (killing). Genocide means “the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group.” It has been said the way we behave is really an indicator of what we truly believe, and belief drives behavior. It will be 59 years this April that Dietrich Bonhoeffer was marched from his prison cell at the Flossenburg concentration camp in Germany and was hung. Bonhoeffer was a Protestant minister who opposed Hitler. He refused to keep silent about the discrimination and persecution of Jews. He spoke out repeatedly and fearlessly until the Nazis executed him.”Never again” – words that were uttered, beliefs that were expressed by many in the West after the full-scale horror of the Holocaust became known. And yet, genocide has happened again and again this century, while world leaders and governments have been slow or hesitant to respond. This is the theme of the excellent book on genocide in the 20th century – A Problem from Hell, by Harvard University instructor Samantha Power. More than ever, Ms. Power’s book reminds all of us, especially those in public service, of the unique power and responsibility of our voice in confronting evil and our moral responsibility to speak out. As the world waits and watches, the people of the Darfur region in Sudan are being wiped out.The Darfur crisis began in February 2003 when two rebel groups in Darfur state – the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) – began fighting Sudanese government forces and allied militias, loosely termed the janjaweed. The Darfur rebelmovements were borne out of the peoples’ frustrations of having been marginalized and neglected by the Government of Sudan for many years. The severity of the crisis was further upgraded in February 2004 when the Sudanese government launched a major military offensive against the rebel forces. The result has been brutal attacks by ground and air forces against innocent civilians and undefended villages. Thousands have been killed. Millions more remain beyond the reach of aid.The United Nations resident coordinator to Sudan recently described the situation in Darfur as the world’s greatest humanitarian crisis and possibly its greatest humanitarian catastrophe. Richard S. Williamson, the U.S. representative to the Commission on Human Rights, said on March 25: “the US views with grave concern the deepening crisis in the Darfur region of western Sudan. A lack of civil order and the refusal of local as well as national authorities to permit unrestricted access for humanitarian workers have put as many as one million people at imminent risk of life and livelihood.”

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