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A National Gathering of the Next Generation of Human Rights Defenders
In a rare show of bipartisanship in the current political climate, members of both the House and Senate came out with strong remarks today regarding the situation in Sudan and Darfur.
A group of Senators, led by Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and John McCain (R-AZ), came out with a letter to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice today, urging her to take a strong stance against the violation of U.N. sanctions and international humanitarian and human rights law by parties in Darfur. The letter called on the ambassador to consider the recommendations made by the U.N. Panel of Experts on Darfur, asking her to begin “a discussion in the Security Council about pressures that can be brought to bear against belligerents in Darfur in the case that these violations persist.”
Earlier today, Representatives Frank Wolf (R-VA), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), and the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, or USCIRF, held a press conference calling on the Obama administration to take action in Sudan.
USCIRF Chair Leonard A. Leo, who was in Sudan during last week’s crackdown on opposition, described conditions on the ground as "dismal and bleak.” The Sudanese government “had hijacked the peace process,” he said.
In a press release from the commission, Leo noted that many in Sudan believe that the U.S. Special Envoy's has a special relationship with Khartoum--one that has emboldened the NCP. He said:
"What we heard and saw in Sudan confirms this, with the ruling party now ignoring the constitution and laws and using security forces to arrest and beat senior government officials with impunity in the capital city.”
The USCIRF Chair emphasized the continued need for U.S. leadership, namely the President and the Secretary of State, to push toward full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
Members of Congress said that the USCIRF accounts only reiterate the urgency with which the Obama administration must address the situation in Sudan and lead the effort to bringing peace to the region. Take a look at some of their remarks, yourself:
In their comments, Representatives Wolf and Smith also called on Special Envoy Major General Scott Gration and the Obama administration to clarify whether or not there is a "confidential annex.”
Will McElhinny and Amanda Hsiao contributed to this blog post.