WASHINGTON - July 26 - Two years ago, on July 22, 2004, Congress unanimously declared that the government-sponsored atrocities against civilians in the Darfur region of western Sudan constituted genocide. Yet today the genocide continues, with over 400,000 killed and another 2.5 million displaced from their homes.
Today, the Genocide Intervention Network recognizes the progress that has been made — due in no small part to the efforts of thousands of activists who have pressured their government to do more. However, GI-Net’s report, “A Pending Promise: A Declaration of Genocide Two Years Later,” also cites the ways in which Congress has yet to live up to its promise. The report can be accessed online, at www.GenocideIntervention.net/PendingPromise.
In the report, GI-Net notes that Congress is the only elected body in the world that has officially recognized the looting, rape and murder in Darfur as state-sponsored genocide. It lauds their legislative accomplishments two years after the official recognition of the genocide.
“We are pleased that Congress acknowledged the genocidal brutality in Darfur,” says GI-Net Executive Director Mark Hanis. “The recent congressional appropriation of $173 million for the beleaguered African Union force, the only peacekeeping operation in Darfur, was a step in the right direction.
“However, the job is not nearly finished,” Hanis says. “The declaration of genocide entails a responsibility on the part of Congress to do everything possible to stop the violence. We are observing this ‘anniversary,’ and the genocide is still in progress; this should serve as a wake-up call. The government must do more.”
The report outlines several steps that Congress should take immediately to help bring this genocide to an end. GI-Net encourages the House to pass Resolution 723, which calls on the president to deploy NATO troops to the region. Additionally, GI-Net argues, Congress must provide maximum funding for all peacekeeping operations in Darfur, push the president to appoint a special envoy to Sudan to ensure the prompt implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement, and institute economic sanctions to punish all individuals responsible for the genocide.
Anti-genocide activists around the country have helped spur the action that Congress has taken. In the last two years the anti-genocide constituency has become increasingly more effective.
“Through our members, we successfully advocated for the removal of a Washington lobbyist working on behalf of the genocidal government of Sudan,” GI-Net Director of Advocacy Sam Bell says. “Our members have spearheaded divestment in 24 schools. A multitude of letters, faxes and phone calls have been sent to elected officials. The members of the anti-genocide constituency have shown themselves to be true champions for the people of Darfur.”
The report serves as a testimonial to these efforts. Having empowered activists to send thousands of messages to their elected officials, GI-Net has published notable selections from the passionate activism that the anti-genocide movement has produced.
“Do we have to be in the position where we again look back and see what small gestures, large gestures, America could have done to alleviate the daily suffering?” asks Katherine, from Virginia.
“The U.S. and our international partners have the opportunity and the responsibility to end genocide in Darfur,” writes another activist from Connecticut. “The words ‘never again’ should mean something.”
The Genocide Intervention Network calls on Congress to recognize the two-year anniversary of their historic declaration of genocide in Darfur by translating their promise into action, to effectively bring these atrocities to a halt.