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Congress Declares Genocide in Sudan

On July 22, the House approved, 422-0, a resolution (H. Con. Res. 467) declaring that the atrocities committed in the Darfur region of Sudan constitute genocide. The Senate approved an identical resolution (S. Con. Res. 133) by unanimous consent on the same day. Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ) and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) sponsored the resolutions.

According to the resolutions, “Article 1 of the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide states that ‘the contracting parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish.’” The resolution notes that Article 2 of the convention declares that genocide is any act “committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group,” and includes: killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part, imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group, and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. Finally, the resolution states, “In March 2004, the United Nations Resident Humanitarian Coordinator states: ‘[T]he war in Darfur started off in a small way last year but it has progressively gotten worse. A predominant feature of this is that the brunt is being borne by civilians. This includes vulnerable women and children…The violence in Darfur appears to be particularly directed at a specific group based on their ethnic identify and appears to be systemized.’”

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) said that the situation in Darfur “worsens on a daily basis. An estimated 1,000 lives are now being lost every day. The situation has escalated to the point that I can now firmly say that I believe that genocide is taking place, and we all have a responsibility and a duty to the people of Darfur to stop it in its tracks.” He added, “Historically, in past cases, the world has been slow to act when faced with genocide, but today it is different. Today we stand here in the House, the people’s body, staring genocide in the face. And today we know what is occurring and we are not afraid to call it what it is, genocide. The international community now has a moral and a legal obligation to stop what is occurring and bring those responsible to justice.”

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) pointed out that the Bush administration “has raised concerns and the United Nations has denounced the ‘ethnic cleansing’ executed by militias supported by the Khartoum government, but this is beyond ethnic cleansing. This is systematic and calculated genocide. Hundreds of thousands are fleeing Darfur, fearing that they will become yet another statistic in a malicious plan to rape, torture, and ultimately wipe out all Blacks in the southwest region of Sudan.” He added, “As in other conflicts designed deliberately to humiliate and eliminate people because of their identify, we have seen women and girls targeted for rape in Darfur. How can we allow this travesty to continue and not be outraged?”

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