On Capitol Hill last night, Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ross-Lehtinen offered House Concurrent Resolution 159 to mark the fifth anniversary of America’s declaration of genocide in Darfur and emphasize the veracity of using the distinction in Darfur. An impressive bipartisan group has already signed onto the resolution, including California Democrat and Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Howard Berman, North Carolina Republican John Boozman, and Representative Chris Smith, the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health.
The resolution offers a series of brief summaries of Sudan’s crises, taking pains to highlight the necessity of implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which ended the country’s 22-year-long civil war between the North and the South, and the need for a comprehensive peace process for Darfur. Importantly, it also states that the “historic” genocide determination was:
“made in response to irrefutable evidence of a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing launched by the Sudanese regime, characterized by the manipulation of ethnic and tribal tension, the arming of proxy forces, aerial bombardment of civilians, destruction of irrigation systems, poisoning of wells, razing of villages, forced displacements, mass murders, abduction, looting, torture, and rape.”
H.Con.Res. 159 is a powerful symbol that key legislators on the Hill stand with President Obama in calling the situation currently burning in Darfur a genocide. The timing of the resolution is particularly important given that U.S. Special Envoy J. Scott Gration has publically waffled on the genocide issue recently, despite the views of both President Obama and U.N. Ambassador Rice, who both unequivocally deem the situation genocide.
Contact your senators and representatives to tell them to support and cosponsor the resolution. We’ll show you how here.
Photo: Women and children in Intifdada IDP camp, Sudan. Courtesy of Doug Mercado