Acting to End Genocide in Darfur

John Prendergast Testifies to the House Foreign Affairs Committee

John Prendergast talks about yesterday’s devastating announcement from President Bush and how to move forward to end genocide.

John Prendergast, Co-Founder of the ENOUGH Campaign, will address the House Foreign Affairs Committee today as it commemorates the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade and discusses the current crisis in Darfur.

ENOUGH is a joint initiative of the International Crisis Group and the Center for American Progress determined to help bring an end to the crimes against humanity being perpetrated in Darfur, northern Uganda, and eastern Congo, and to prevent future mass atrocities wherever they may occur.

Read the testimony here:

Yesterday morning, the auditorium at the Holocaust Museum was tense with anticipation. President Bush was there to make what was to be a major announcement on U.S. policy towards Darfur. Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel was invited to be with him, underscoring the gravity of the event. And the administration has been leaking for months its threatened “Plan B” policy.

Had the refugees and displaced Darfurians in Mia Farrow’s photographs been sitting in the audience yesterday, their disappointment would have been crushing. Instead of finally announcing what every activist and member of Congress has been demanding for the last three years—measures that would punish the regime for its orchestration of what the Bush administration repeatedly calls genocide—President Bush instead issued another set of dramatic warnings, another threat without a specific deadline for action.

Barking without biting is the diplomatic equivalent of giving comfort to the enemy. In this case, though, it may be even worse. Each time the administration has issued an empty threat over the past three years and then not enforced it, the Khartoum regime has been emboldened to escalate its destruction and obstruction in Darfur. If there is a Guinness Book of World Records entry for the most threats issued with no follow up, Darfur is likely setting a new standard.

After living in, studying in, or working in Sudan for the last 22 years, and having negotiated directly with Sudan’s leadership during the Clinton administration, I can tell you that the regime no longer takes our speeches and our threats seriously, and will continue to flout international will until there are specific and escalating costs to their actions.

I do not tell that to you on a whimsical hope that it might be true. In these matters, I would much prefer to rely on empirical evidence. The preponderance of evidence shows that during the 18 years of its military rule, the regime in Khartoum has only responded to focused international and regional pressure. Three times the regime has reversed its position on a major policy issue, and each of those three times the change resulted from intensive diplomacy backed by serious pressure—two ingredients sadly and shockingly missing from the response to Darfur today, despite the stirring speeches. The three cases are the regime’s support for international terrorist organizations during the early to mid 1990s; its support for slave-raiding militias in southwestern Sudan throughout the 1990s; and its prosecution of a war in southern Sudan that took two million Sudanese lives.

I place the evidence of policy change in these three cases in an appendix to this testimony, and ask that it and the entire statement be placed in the record. Once the recent policy history is reviewed and the real lessons learned from the 18 deadly years this regime has been in power, the answers become clear and obvious. Continuing to ignore or defy these historical precedents may condemn hundreds of thousands of Darfurians to death.

For more information on the ENOUGH project’s policy solutions for Darfur, see:

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