Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf recently introduced a resolution before Congress that condemned the Republic of Sudan for its involvement in attacks against innocent civilians in the impoverished Darfur. “The conditions are horrific and beyond imagination,” Wolf said. “The situation worsens every day. We need to do more.”
“As the world waits and watches, the people of the Darfur region in Sudan are being wiped out,” Wolf said. The crisis began in February 2003 when two rebel groups in Darfur state began to fight government security forces. In early February 2004, the 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,” Wolf said. “Thousands have been killed. Millions more remain beyond the reach of aid.”
“A humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Sudan and we must speak out,” said Wolf. “Thousands of innocent women and children are being killed. Close to 1 million people are affected. Some 750,000 are displaced. Thousands killed.”
Harvard University instructor Samantha Power’s book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, deals with the theme of genocide in the 20th century. Wolf said that Power’s book reminds all of us, especially those in public service, of the unique power and responsibility in confronting evil and our moral responsibility to speak out.
In a recent op-ed piece in The New York Times, Power urged the international community, including the Bush administration, to demand that the Sudanese government in Khartoum cease its aerial attacks, terminate its arms supplies to the Janjaweed and punish those militia accuse of looting, rape and murder. Power said 10,000 international peacekeepers are needed to restore order in Darfur.
Power’s column appeared near the 10th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, when Hutu extremists embarked on a campaign in which they murdered 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus while Western and U.N. leaders watched in silence.
“The Arab Muslim marauders and their government sponsors (in Sudan) do not yet seem intent on exterminating every last African Muslim in their midst,” Power said. “But they do seem determined to wipe out black life in the region.
“President Clinton has said that one of the greatest mistakes of his presidency was not doing more to prevent the Rwandan genocide,” Power said. During a visit to Rwanda in 1998, Clinton tried to explain America’s failure to respond to the tragedy.
“It may seem strange to you here, especially the many of you who lost members of your family, but all over the world there were people like me sitting in offices, day after day after day, who did not fully appreciate the depth and the speed with which you were being engulfed by this unimaginable terror,” he said.
“Today, roughly 1,000 miles north of Rwanda, tens of thousands of Africans are herded onto death marches, and Western leaders are again sitting in offices,” Power said. “How sad it is that it doesn’t even seem strange.”
Wolf urges all concerned citizens to contact the U.S. representative to the U.N., Ambassador John Negroponte (212/425-400) and Secretary General Kofi Annan (212/753-4218) and urge them to call on the Sudanese government to stop the fighting and allow immediate humanitarian access to this region.
(Michael F. Flach is editor of the Arlington Catholic Herald, where this article first appeared.)