- The Washington Times - Monday, September 25, 2006

The House yesterday passed several measures aimed at putting a stop to the genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region.

Lawmakers adopted by unanimous consent late last night the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, which imposes sanctions against “those responsible” for the “war crimes, or genocide” in Darfur.

Also, in an early evening voice vote on a nonbinding resolution, the House urged President Bush to support humanitarian and peace efforts in the African nation.

The Senate has already unanimously agreed to the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, paving the way, lawmakers said, for action in the genocide-stricken region. They said that with estimates of at least 400,000 killed in the past two years, the U.S. cannot allow the atrocities, mostly the work of Sudan’s Islamist central government and pro-Islamist militias, to continue.

“The genocide in Darfur is not just an African crisis,” said Rep. Tom Lantos, a Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor. “It is a crisis of all humanity and obligates all of us to act with urgency.”

“Lives must be saved,” the California Democrat said. “A permanent and just peace must come to Darfur.”

The bill includes provisions to block Sudanese assets in the U.S., deny Sudanese officials entry to the U.S. and keep Sudan-related ships from U.S. ports. It also encourages Mr. Bush to deny oil revenues and military equipment to Sudan and asks the U.N. Security Council to deny the Khartoum government the privileges of U.N. membership as long as its Darfur attacks continue.

Congress has a “responsibility to ensure that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past” by focusing only on Darfur, said Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican.

Rep. Barbara Lee, California Democrat, reminded colleagues that 1 million were killed in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, and promised: “Not on our watch will it happen again.”

Others agreed, noting the envoys to the region must work to secure a “just and equitable peace” in Darfur and to ensure the peace agreement between northern and southern Sudan remains intact.

“We are sick and tired of being sick and tired,” said Rep. Donald M. Payne of New Jersey, the ranking Democrat on the International Relations Committee’s subcommittee on Africa, global human rights and international operations. “This bill is just the first step.”

The Darfur Peace and Accountability Act imposes sanctions on the Sudanese government and supports measures for the protection of civilians and humanitarian operations. Another measure calls for Mr. Bush to take “immediate steps” to improve the region’s security by helping transfer an African Union mission to a United Nations-led force and for NATO to send an interim civilian protection force.

“Did we not learn anything from the lessons of Bosnia, Rwanda?” asked House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, also noting “the consequences of our negligence in the 1930s.”

Mr. Hoyer called Sudan “the world’s worst current human rights crisis. We must do more.”

Meanwhile yesterday, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed bills that impose sanctions on Sudan, including one that bars California’s huge public-pension systems from investing in companies with active business in that nation.

“I grew up in Europe after the Second World War so I remember the dark and heavy shadow cast by the Holocaust,” the Austrian-born governor said. “It has become clear to me that we cannot turn a blind eye to any genocide.”



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