Speeches & Floor Statements

Remarks Of Sen. Alexander - Sudan Amendment To DoD Appropriations Bill

Posted on June 24, 2004

Mr. President, I thank the Senator from Ohio and the Senator from Illinois for their remarks. The Senator from Kansas has spent a great deal of time in Africa and has been a good teacher to the rest of us on this subject. The majority leader, Senator Frist, has visited the Sudan many times. All of us are deeply concerned about what is happening in Darfur. Just at the time when we were starting to celebrate the beginning of a solution to a north-south conflict, which has gone on for years and years, suddenly we are hit literally in the face with this terrible genocide in the western part of Sudan. It is important to this body that we show that in the midst of all of the other things that are going on in the world that we recognize this situation. We recognize the importance of it. We recognize that by our speaking out, by our actions, by visits by representatives of our administration, and by the Congress, we can make a difference in this genocide. As the Senator from Ohio remarked, we all look back 10 years to a time in Rwanda when we were thinking that we cannot be a policeman everywhere in the world, we cannot deal with every problem, but at the same time that problem ballooned to such a massive size, we are all embarrassed about the fact that as a country we did not do more. That does not always mean we send troops into a country. It does not always mean we send ships nearby a country. But it does mean there are a number of things we can do, and with this bipartisan act today in the midst of perhaps the most important bill we have to discuss, which is the proper support for the men and women who are fighting to defend our country, we are taking a few minutes to say there is a terrible event happening in the western part of Sudan that could stop immediately if the government in Khartoum would stop it. We ask them to do it in a bipartisan way, and we further ask the United Nations, which in this case has more of a capacity than we do, to influence that government and to get busy and do its job. That is what we are asking today. The amendment of the Senator from Ohio appropriates $95 million to help in that effort. Last week I chaired a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the situation in Sudan. The alarm could not have been sounded more loudly. I chaired that hearing because I am chairman of the African Affairs Subcommittee. One of our witnesses, John Prendergast of the International Crisis Group, told the committee the first phase of the genocide in Darfur is already complete. The Government of Sudan, largely through its Janjaweed militia, has pursued an active campaign of ethnic cleansing. Over 30,000 - maybe 50,000 - have already been killed by direct attacks on villages in Darfur. They have leveled hundreds of villages. Other Senators have spoken of the details, but that is what is happening. So now the second phase of the genocide is underway. The Government of Sudan and its militias are forcing the starvation and death of hundreds of thousands of people. As the Senator from Kansas explained, these are people living on the margin. When they are moved away from their huts, when dead animals or dead people are thrown down their wells, they have very little ability to survive. As the rainy season comes, it makes it worse. On top of that, the Government of Sudan, in addition to tolerating the killing of these people, is putting obstacles in the way of our efforts and the efforts of others in the world to provide food and aid to people who are starving and dying. It is an unconscionable set of actions by that government. When we think of Sudan, we usually think of a conflict between a Muslim and Arab government, and an African and Christian insurgency. That is not the case here. This is Muslim against Muslim, but still Arab against African. Ethnicity, not religion, is the primary factor. Another of our witnesses, Julie Flint of Human Rights Watch, was there writing a report this spring, traveling by horse and camel through the area. She talked about refugees who fled to neighboring Chad, about 200,000 of them, family members being raped and killed in front of loved ones. She said the region is now largely empty. Where villages were, only rubble remains. The Sudanese Government claims the Janjaweed forces in Darfur are acting on their own and the government wants to stop them. The evidence suggests otherwise. Our administration has been a strong voice in this case, but the international community has failed to respond. The U.N. Human Rights Commission, which is supposed to confront flagrant abuses of human rights, especially when they occur on such a mass scale, failed to adopt a U.S. resolution condemning the atrocities. That body has become a travesty, condoning the very activity it was intended to prevent. The Bush administration, this government, has had remarkable success in the peace process between the north and the south. We are proud of that. Protocols addressing all the major outstanding issues in that process were signed in May. Senator Danforth, who was the President's special envoy, has been a real leader. Other nations have joined in that effort: Great Britain, Norway, Kenya. Some of our friends are concerned if we confront the government in Khartoum, Sudan, too directly about the atrocities in the west, Darfur, that will jeopardize any prospect for lasting peace in southern Sudan. They may be right. But if hundreds of thousands of lives are the price of peace in southern Sudan, the price is too high. So the amendment of the Senator from Ohio, which I am glad to cosponsor, will enable the United States to step up to this crisis quickly, providing relief to those in need. Other nations are also contributing. I hope they will join the United States in condemning the actions of the Sudanese government in the U.N. Security Council and demand full humanitarian access to Darfur now. I congratulate the Senator from Ohio on this amendment. I am proud to support it.