Thursday, October 15, 2009


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Round 3
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Says President Should Reject Idea; Asks Who Represents Women Living in Camps?

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) today called on the Obama Administration to reject any effort to allow the Government of Sudan to hire a U.S. lobbyist.

In a letter to the president, Wolf said it would be a “disgrace” for the Khartoum regime to be represented in Washington by lobbyists. Wolf also urged the president to “personally engage” on the issue of Sudan.

“It is unconscionable that any government with blood on its hands be permitted the privilege of having a Washington lobbyist on retainer,” Wolf wrote, referring to the genocide in Darfur.

Wolf, who led the first congressional delegation to Darfur in 2004 soon after the world learned of the atrocities and has been active on Sudan issues for nearly two decades, said the president should direct the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to deny any requests by U.S. companies seeking to represent the government of Sudan. An OFAC waiver is necessary because of sanctions first imposed in 1997 by then President Clinton. Citing “continued support for international terrorism, ongoing efforts to destabilize neighboring governments and the prevalence of human rights violations, including slavery and denial of religious freedom,” Clinton issued an Executive Order imposing a trade embargo against the entire territory of Sudan and total asset freeze against the Khartoum government.

“I implore you to remember the woman in Darfur who fears rape and brutalization every time she leaves the confines of her camp to collect firewood,” Wolf wrote. “Who speaks for her in our nation’s capital?”

Below is the complete text of Wolf’s letter. It also is available online at www.wolf.house.gov.

October 15, 2009

The Honorable Barack H. Obama

The President

The White House

Washington DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

Just minutes from the White House sits the world-renowned Holocaust Museum, a fitting tribute to millions of innocent victims who perished under Hitler’s Germany. The world cries out “Never Again.” Yet, genocide and crimes against humanity are not simply relegated to the annals of history.

A modern day accused war criminal is the sitting head of state of the Government of Sudan. In March the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for the arrest of President Omar Bashir. He is accused by the ICC of five counts of crimes against humanity (murder, rape, torture, extermination, and forceful transfer of civilian population) and two counts of war crimes (for directing attacks against the civilian population and pillaging).

Unbelievably, recent news reports indicate that there is a move afoot to permit this very government to obtain lobbyist representation in our nation’s capital. This would be a disgrace and must not be permitted to take place under any circumstances.

Memories can be short in this town. It is important to recall who we are dealing with in Khartoum. In June 2004 I led the first congressional delegation with Senator Sam Brownback to Darfur, soon after the world began hearing about the atrocities being committed against the people of that region. I witnessed the nightmare with my own eyes. I saw the scorched villages and overflowing camps. I heard the stories of murder, rape and displacement.

In July 2004, the House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution declaring “that the atrocities unfolding in Darfur, Sudan, are genocide.” The Senate also passed genocide legislation by unanimous consent. On September 9, 2004, Secretary of State Colin Powell, in his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, declared unequivocally, "Genocide has been committed in Darfur and that the government of Sudan and the [Janjaweed] bear responsibility—and that genocide may still be occurring."

The ICC prosecutor, describing Bashir’s crimes in stark terms said, he “has selected his weapons; they are: rape, hunger, fear. They are the most efficient method of destruction, in the face of international scrutiny.”

Further, we must recall that Bashir and his National Congress Party (NCP) were at the helm during the brutal 20-year war against the people of Southern Sudan which claimed the lives of over two million. One of the markings of that horrific war was modern day slave raids. Even today there are consistent reports that Bashir and the NCP are doing everything in their power to obstruct implementation of the historic Comprehensive Peace Agreement which brought about an end to the decades long war. This fragile peace now hangs in the balance.

In addition to the massive human rights abuses perpetrated by this government against their own people, it is also important to note that Sudan remains on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. The 2008 Country Reports on Terrorism said the following about Sudan: “Elements of designated terrorist groups remained in Sudan…” The report further said, “…there have been open source reports that arms were purchased in Sudan's black market and allegedly smuggled northward to Hamas.” It is well known that the same people currently in control in Khartoum gave safe haven to Osama bin Laden in the early 1990’s. In 1998 when I introduced the legislation that created the National Commission on Terrorism, I specifically mentioned Osama bin Laden and his presence in Sudan.

Roger Winter, former U.S. State Department special representative on Sudan, characterized Bashir and the NCP in this way, “He came to power by coup and, ever since, he and his Party have been at war with the Sudanese people, North, South, East and West. The National Islamic Front/NCP leadership team has been the same since it took power. Since then that able and well-experienced team has confronted a revolving door of U.S. diplomats and special envoys who do their best to end Khartoum’s destructive behavior. Often they think that Khartoum can be successfully appealed to ‘to do the right thing’ on behalf of the marginalized people of Sudan. It’s just not so. Khartoum reads us very well.”

I couldn’t agree more with this assessment. Khartoum indeed reads us well. They certainly do not need a lobbyist to help them on that score. Too often lobbyists are viewed as granting access. But this year alone, National Congress Party Leaders have had plenty of access to U.S. officials, both in the executive and legislative branches. The only thing they lack is the political will to bring about a lasting peace in Sudan. And no lobbyist can manufacture that.

Given these realities, I urge you to personally engage on the issue of Sudan. You have rightly noted that "silence, acquiescence and paralysis in the face of genocide is wrong,” and you’ve advocated for "real pressures [to] be placed on the Sudanese government." I wholeheartedly support these sentiments, but sentiments absent action ring hollow.

Furthermore, I urge you to ensure that the full apparatus of the State Department, not just the Special Envoy’s office, is mobilized in the effort to bring about long awaited peace and justice for the people of Sudan. Secretary Clinton has championed the plight of women globally. Few places in the world are as grim for women as the camps in Sudan. The secretary herself along with Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson ought to be at the forefront of this issue.

Most importantly, I urge you to make it clear in no uncertain terms, to both the State Department and the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, that under your administration the genocidal government in Khartoum will not be granted the necessary waiver to hire a lobbyist.

It is unconscionable that any government with blood on its hands be permitted the privilege of having a Washington lobbyist on retainer. As you consider these matters, I implore you to remember the woman in Darfur who fears rape and brutalization every time she leaves the confines of her camp to collect firewood.

Who speaks for her in our nation’s capital?


Frank R. Wolf

Member of Congress


Comments to President Obama:


While We Wait Sudan

Join the Fast for Darfuris




"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,
committed people could change the world.
Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

Margaret Mead

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