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US Lawmakers: Genocide Taking Place in Sudan - 2004-07-13

U.S. senators have introduced a resolution saying genocide is taking place in Sudan. They hope the measure will spur the international community and the Bush administration to do more to respond to the violence and humanitarian crisis in Sudan's western Darfur region.

Senator Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican, is chief sponsor of the resolution.

He says the Sudanese government is not living up to its commitments to disarm government-backed Arab militias, blamed for waging a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Darfur.

Mr. Brownback, who recently visited the region and saw burnt and pillaged villages and talked with victims, is concerned that what happened in Rwanda a decade ago, is being repeated in Sudan. He hopes his resolution will spur international action.

"Unlike Rwanda, where afterwards we pronounced genocide after 800,000 died, here is a chance for the international community to step in and stop the deaths," he said. "If we will act decisively and now, we can stop hundreds of thousands of people from dying. If we do not, they will die."

Senator Brownback says reports from the area indicate little has changed in the region in the two weeks since he returned from his trip, despite promises from Khartoum to reign in the militias known as the Janjaweed.

He says he hopes the Senate will vote on his resolution before it goes on recess at the end of the month.

"What this resolution does is to add the political pressure on everyone. It requires the United Nations to take decisive and necessary action," Mr. Brownback. "Any country on the Security Council that opposes or thwarts actions that the U.N. might wish to take under chapter seven of its charter, will, in effect, have approved of the genocide occurring in Sudan, or worse yet, just not care.

"Those nations will be on notice. More importantly, Sudan itself will be on notice," he continued. "It will become a pariah among nations, and will carry the shame of doing nothing to prevent the wanton murder of its own people, even participating in it."

"Rape and murder are used as deliberate tools of policy, ethnic cleansing and ethnic conversion. This must stop," said Senator Jon Corzine, a New Jersey Democrat, who is a co-sponsor of the measure.

A similar resolution is being considered by the House of Representatives.

But the U.S. State Department has stopped short of calling the situation in Darfur genocide, describing it as ethnic cleansing instead.

The United States has called on the United Nations to prepare a resolution that would sanction militia leaders and possibly the Sudanese government.

The violence in Darfur, which began last year, has killed at least 10,000 people and displaced one million others.