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Jewish World Review Nov. 18, 2005/ 16 Mar-Chesvan, 5766

Nat Hentoff

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Lives running out in Darfur | As the murderous Janjaweed militia, supported by the government of Sudan, continue to destroy the hopes of the millions of displaced black African Muslims in Darfur, a reader of this column, Sherwood Price, tells me he wrote to his senator, Arlen Specter, R—Penn., asking him: "Where is the outrage over the genocide in Darfur?"

He tells me he has yet to receive an answer, adding: "Perversely, 'Hurricane' Cindy (Sheehan) enjoys more media and senatorial attention than festering genocide."

Meanwhile, Abdel Jabbar Eissa, a nonreader of this column, a Darfurian victim of this inattention, in the Abou Shouk camp for refugees in Western Darfur, tells Reuters: "The only solution (for us survivors) is to disarm the Janjaweed, and the Khartoum government is not serious about doing that. I expect I will be in this camp in eight years time."

Bearing out this grim prophecy, the Sudan Tribune Web site reported on Oct. 26 that the International Crisis Group says, "The security situation in Darfur will continue to worsen and the political process will remain stalemated unless the African Union mission in Sudan is armed with more troops, a more robust mandate and assured new funding."

But Reuters, reporting from Washington on Nov. 2, disclosed that "U.S. lawmakers stripped out $59 million in funding for African Union troops struggling to keep the peace in Darfur. The money was taken out of a foreign funding appropriations bill."

I have heard no protest about this cut from George W. Bush, who, following former Secretary of State Colin Powell, unequivocally declared that genocide is taking place in Darfur. And where is the Congressional Republican leadership?

Says Rev. Richard Cizik, vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals — long a supporter of help for those ruthlessly oppressed by the Khartoum government: "This is simply unacceptable and is a tragedy for the people of Darfur."

But as this tragedy continues to deepen, there is now a bipartisan Sudan Caucus in Congress — which has received far less media attention than Cindy Sheehan or Joseph Wilson. In a "Dear Colleague" letter, U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, D—Mass., a member of the Sudan Caucus, wrote:

"There are indications that the U.S. State Department is shifting its policy toward Sudan. Instead of putting more pressure on this Khartoum government, (Condoleezza Rice) granted them a waiver to hire a U.S. lobbyist (Robert Cabelly). For $530,000 a year, this lobbyist will represent a regime we have accused of genocide." (This letter was co—signed by 105 members of Congress.)

"Additionally," Capuano continued for the Sudan Caucus, "the State Department recently announced that Sudan's slavery status is being upgraded to a Tier II from a Tier III (worse offender in the Trafficking of Persons watch list) ... This is another reward to a government long engaged in slavery, a fact well documented by human rights groups and the State Department itself."

Moreover, Congressman Frank Wolf, R—Va., chairman of the bipartisan Congressional Human Rights Caucus, who has been to Sudan five times, has said in a statement in the Congressional Record: "Make no mistake, Sudan is hiring this firm (C/R International, whose managing director is Robert Cabelly) to help counteract the ongoing worldwide campaign against the (Khartoum) government's policy in the Darfur region of the country."

Certainly, C/R International has the right to choose its clients; but Wolf and this columnist have the right to ask the firm whether there are any clients it would not take! Wolf emphasizes: "This American company is taking money to wage a lobbying war against the hundreds of organizations and more than 130 million Americans who have voiced their concern about the situation in Darfur."

And I do think Rice should explain to those 130 million Americans, let alone the millions of Darfurians (who cannot return to their villages torn apart by the Janjaweed) why she granted a waiver to this lobbying outfit, despite Executive Order 13067 prohibiting transactions with the Sudanese government. (It was signed by President Clinton in 1997.)

As for the upgrading of Sudan to Tier II in the Trafficking of Persons watch list, Capuano points out: "Only this past January, the U.N. Commission of Inquiry released a report in which it documented cases of Sudanese troops involved in abductions and sexual slavery."

What on earth was Rice thinking? What would she tell Abdel Jabbar Eissa, waiting so long in the Abou Shouk camp while the Janjaweed roam and rape freely in Darfur?

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Nat Hentoff is a nationally renowned authority on the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights and author of several books, including his current work, "The War on the Bill of Rights and the Gathering Resistance". Comment by clicking here.

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