- The Washington Times - Monday, September 18, 2000

There is a strong likelihood that the government of Sudan will soon be elevated to a position of international power and prestige. But Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia a consistent worker for human rights is protesting in letters to his colleagues, the president, the secretary of state, the national security adviser, and Richard Holbrooke, our permanent representative to the United nations.
Mr. Wolf Writes: "I am extremely troubled to learn about the possibility that the Government of Sudan could be given a seat on the Security Council of the United Nations. This calls into question the integrity of that body on the heels of the Sudanese government's recent spate of bombing in southern Sudan of innocent civilians, churches and relief agencies such as Doctors Without Borders, the International Red Cross, and the World Food Programme."
Moreover, in May, Amnesty International reporting on the involvement of Chinese, Canadian and other countries' oil companies in Sudan disclosed the results of the ethnic cleansing by Sudan's government of civilians living in oil fields and the areas surrounding them:
To provide "a secure environment" for these oil operations, Amnesty International reveals, there have been "massive human rights abuses forced displacement, aerial bombardments, strafing villages from helicopter gunships, unlawful killings, torture including rape and abduction."
This is in addition to the continuing enslavement by Sudanese government forces of black Christians and animists in southern Sudan.
Last year, our House of Representatives passed a resolution, almost unanimously, condemning that regime for "deliberately and systematically committing genocide in southern Sudan." The Senate followed suit.
There has not been a single mention of these horrifying atrocities in Sudan by either Al Gore or George W. Bush. The president, during his recent visit to Africa, also said nothing about the state terrorism in that country. And the American press, with few exceptions, has been largely silent.
While this country's black clergy have been increasingly active in condemning the slavery and genocide in Sudan, many prominent white religious leaders have not been heard from. Yet the State Department's recent annual report on religious freedom around the world in citing Sudan charges that Christians and followers of traditional religions there are subject to arbitrary arrest and detention, threats, violence and forced conversions to Islam.
Jesse Jackson, the president's spiritual adviser and his de facto ambassador to Africa remains voiceless with regard to the massive persecutions in Sudan. However, on Sept. 8, during the United Nations convergence of world leaders in New York, the Rev. Jackson boldly and publicly confronted President Alberto Fujimori of Peru. Mr. Jackson demanded justice for an American, Lori Berenson, who has been imprisoned in Peru and is to have a new trial.
Mr. Jackson demanded of the startled Mr. Fujimori that Miss Berenson be released immediately. Peru's president, however, said that his country's judicial system is in charge of the case. Mr. Jackson then pledged to go to Peru and negotiate for her release on the grounds of mercy and justice.
As reported in The New York Times, Mr. Jackson "has spoken publicly about Miss Berenson's case several times … But during the confrontation with Mr. Fujimori … Mr. Jackson made it clear for the first time that he planned to intervene directly. It was unusual for Mr. Jackson to put a foreign leader on the spot so publicly. He said later he wanted to link the issues of human rights with the kind of economic performance (in Peru) that Mr. Fujimori had been so eager to discuss."
On that very day, the president of Sudan Gen. Omar Hassan al-Bashir was in New York for that United Nations gathering of world leaders. He was not confronted, or even spoken to, by Mr. Jackson, who has in the past helped release prisoners in Cuba, Kosovo, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
Now, commendably, Mr. Jackson speaks up for one young American woman harshly imprisoned in Peru. But he has nothing to say for the huge numbers of slaves, the imprisoned, the murdered, the displaced and those forcibly converted to a religion other than their own in Sudan. But then, his usually voluble president is also silent.

Nat Hentoff's column for The Washington Times runs Mondays.

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