- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 14, 2001

The U.S. House voted 422-2 yesterday to condemn Sudans human rights record and to prohibit foreign oil companies doing business with Sudan from raising money in American markets.

It is an effort to call attention to what the bill terms "genocide" in the country of about 30 million people on Egypts southern border. It is also aimed at reducing the money that Sudans government in Khartoum uses to war with rebels in the countrys southern region.

Over the past two decades the conflict has claimed about 2 million lives and displaced 4 million people. It left 3 million people in need of food assistance this year alone, members said.
The government, lead by the National Islamic Front, has also allowed enslavement or forced religious conversion of residents of the southern part of the country, who hold mainly Christian or tribal beliefs. Two weeks ago Sudan promised to end aerial bombardments of civilians or relief workers, but broke that promise last week, members said.
"It appears unreal that at the beginning of the 21st century we are again talking about genocide and slavery, but it is genocide and slavery which characterize the situation in Sudan," said Rep. Tom Lantos, California Democrat.
The bill authorizes the spending of $10 million, appropriated last year, for efforts to aid southern Sudan in rebuilding. It requires companies that do business in Sudan to report their activities to the Securities and Exchange Commission. And it requires the secretary of state to document war crimes and other crimes against humanity.
But the bills real teeth were added in an amendment that prohibits foreign oil companies that do business with Sudan from raising money in the U.S. That, in effect, would delist companies like Canadas Talisman Energy from the New York Stock Exchange. Members said the company admitted doing business with Sudan.
Money from oil has helped Sudan to double its defense budget since 1998, and that has been critical to the governments continued military actions against citizens in the southern part of the country, several members said.
"That oil is blood oil it has enriched the war machine of the government," said Rep. Donald M. Payne, New Jersey Democrat.
Some representatives have seen firsthand the effects of the war and they described terrible scenes vultures cleaning the bones of human corpses, a man burying his entire family, and mothers whose young male children were taken away and sent to camps to be converted to Islam.
And Majority Leader Dick Armey, Texas Republican, told the story of one victim who saw her babys throat slit by intruders in her home, saw them sever the babys head, and was then raped.
"No nation on earth can fail to raise its voice."
The final vote was 422-2, with the two "no" votes coming from Republicans.
Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Republican, said there is no American security interest involved, and he feared the bills actions might be as unsuccessful as previous American humanitarian efforts.
"So often these well-intended programs just dont work, and I seriously question whether this one will either," he said.

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