My interest and involvement in Sudan has spanned over two decades. I have traveled to Sudan six times since 1989, including in July 2004 when I was the first member of the House of Representatives to visit Darfur, the violence-ravaged western region of Sudan. The unfolding human rights crisis I witnessed there with my own eyes would come to be recognized by the world as genocide. Tragically severe human rights abuses, including genocide, persists today. This should come as no surprise given that an internationally indicted war criminal, Sudanese president Omar Bashir, remains at the helm in Khartoum.
I am one of the lead sponsors of, H.R. 1692, the Sudan Peace, Security and Accountability Act. From my vantage point as co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Sudan and South Sudan, I remain committed to securing peace and justice which has been so elusive for the people of this land.
Anybody Home on Sudan?
With tensions between Sudan and South Sudan on the rise and nearing a tipping point, thousands starving in the Nuba Mountains, refugees fleeing aerial bombardment and pouring over the border into South Sudan, violence persisting in Darfur and an internationally indicted war criminal at the helm in Khartoum who travels the globe with seeming impunity, it is time for a fresh policy and a renewed commitment to peace and justice in Sudan and true democratic development and rule of law in Sudan.
Instead we’ve seen an abdication of leadership on the part of this administration. I repeatedly wrote Secretary of State Kerry and President Obama urging that they make this a priority and quickly appoint a new Sudan Special Envoy. Below are links to relevant letters.
- January 10, 2014 Op-Ed How Obama is losing South Sudan
- December 30, 2013 letter to Secretary Kerry on escalating crisis in South Sudan
- August 2, 2013 letter to President Obama urging immediate appointment of Sudan special envoy
- July 11, 2013 floor statement lamenting Obama’s abdication of leadership on Sudan
- April 11, 2013 floor statement calling for fresh policy approach to Sudan and swift appointment of new special envoy
- February 12, 2013 letter to Secretary Kerry
Sudanese president Omar Bashir is an internationally indicted war criminal. His offenses are well known and documented including genocide, crimes against humanity among them murder, rape, torture, extermination and war crimes. To make matters worse, his crimes are not simply a thing of the past. He persists in terrorizing and brutalizing his own people in the Nuba Mountains and Darfur. Amazingly, he continues to travel the globe with virtual impunity.
Last year I offered an amendment to the State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill which would have cut non-humanitarian foreign assistance to any nation that allowed him into their country without arresting him. The amendment was adopted with bipartisan support by voice vote. Had it passed into law it would have effectively isolated Bashir and made him an international pariah as is befitting a man with blood on his hands. It is noteworthy that the amendment garnered the support of 70 prominent Holocaust and genocide scholars. Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of the Wyman Institute, which initiated a letter of support to the administration from these scholars, said: "Halting aid to those who host Bashir would be the first concrete step the U.S. has taken to isolate the Butcher of Darfur and pave the way for his arrest. If the Obama administration is serious about punishing perpetrators of genocide, it should support the Wolf Amendment."
Sadly that support never materialized. In fact the Obama administration actively sought to remove this language from the final bill. Meanwhile, Bashir remains free to travel where he pleases, and the people of Sudan see no end in sight to their suffering and U.S. policy is in tatters.
Yida Trip Report
I traveled to South Sudan, the world's newest nation, in February 2012 to observe the situation there and in order to make a number of policy recommendations at the conclusion of my trip.
Since that time, the situation has become more dire. These conditions served as the backdrop for my trip. I felt it was critical to see with my own eyes what was happening and then shine a bright light on this unfolding humanitarian crisis. I also want to formulate policy recommendations that could help save lives and engage in oversight, in my capacity as a member of the State Foreign Operations Appropriations subcommittee, which funds the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), the World Food Program, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian assistance programs.
READ MY FULL TRIP REPORT
Meeting with the leadership of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement