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Jewish World Review Sept. 18, 2000 / 17 Elul, 5760

Nat Hentoff

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A selective zeal for justice -- CONGRESSMAN Frank Wolf of Virginia -- one of the nation's most informed human rights advocates -- is issuing an urgent warning. In letters to his colleagues, the president, the secretary of state, national security adviser Samuel Berger, and Richard Holbrooke, our permanent representative to the United Nations, he 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 Sudan 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 Gore or 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. Jackson demanded justice for an American, Lori Berenson, who has been imprisoned in Peru and is to have a new trial.

Jackson demanded of the startled Fujimori that Lori Berenson be released immediately. Peru's president, however, said that his country's judicial system is in charge of the case. 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, Jesse Jackson "has spoken publicly about Ms. 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 Jackson, who has in the past helped release prisoners in Cuba, Kosovo, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Now, commendably, 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.

JWR contributor Nat Hentoff is a First Amendment authority and author of numerous books. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


09/06/00: The power of nonviolence
08/28/00: Should Dr. Laura be silenced?
08/22/00: Trashing the Bill of Rights in Philly
08/14/00: The repressive hand of China
08/07/00: A racial incident on a train
07/31/00: Attention Jesse Jackson: Sudanese children are still branded and enslaved
07/24/00: Open up the presidential debates!
07/17/00: A stealth attack on privacy
07/03/00: Plea to the Congressional Black Caucus
06/26/00: Burning 'bad' ideas at college
06/19/00: Affirmative action beyond race
06/12/00: Students discover the Constitution
06/06/00: The Liar's legacy and America's delusions
05/30/00: Reining in the majority's will
05/23/00: Press swoons for a bunco artist
05/15/00: The China that tourists don't see
05/08/00: The coverage of Reno's lawless raid
05/01/00: In Clinton and Castro's best interests
04/24/00: Elian's human rights
04/17/00: Crime's down, but arrests keep rising
04/10/00: Teacher brings Constitution to life
04/03/00: The Americans who keep disappearing
03/27/00: The censoring of feminist history
03/20/00: Should there be a chaplain in Congress?
03/13/00: Big labor, big China, spinning Gore
03/03/00: The ACLU violates its principles --- yet again!
02/28/00: Still two nations?
02/11/00: You bet we should disbar Bubba
01/31/00: Where was Jesse?
01/24/00: Is suing church for sexual harassment an entanglement?
01/18/00: Will Miranda make it?
01/11/00: ACLU: Guilty until presumed innocent?
01/03/00: Liberty lion should be Man of Century
12/28/99: Drug tests that tear families apart
12/20/99: Get ready for decisive ruling on school vouchers for religious schools
12/13/99: Guess who is taking the lead in anti-slavery movement? Hint: It ain't Rev. Jesse
12/06/99: When we refuse to buy the 'otherly-challenged' excuse
11/29/99: Expelling 'Huck Finn'
11/22/99: Pleading the First
11/16/99: Goal of diversity needs rethinking?
11/08/99: Prosecution in darkness
11/02/99: The accuracy that's owed to readers
10/26/99: Disappeared Americans
10/18/99: The blue wall of silence
10/11/99: Bill Bradley's speech tax
10/04/99: 'Technicalities' that keep us free
09/27/99: Our 'Americanism'-ignorant generation
09/20/99: ACLU better clean up its act
09/13/99: A professor of infanticide at Princeton
09/07/99: The Big Apple's Rotten Policing
08/23/99: Lawyerly ethics
08/16/99: To Get a Supreme Court Seat
08/02/99: What are the poor people doing tonight?
07/26/99: Lady Hillary and the press

© 2000, NEA