June 24, 2004
MEMBERS OF CONGRESS SPEAK OUT AT UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM ABOUT POTENTIAL SUDANESE GENOCIDE
Holocaust Survivor and Darfurian Exile Add Voices to Public Appeal – Museum Halts Daily Activities to Bring Attention to Unfolding Humanitarian Crisis
WASHINGTON, DC — The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum took the extraordinary step today of halting usual activities for a solemn 30-minute program, “Bearing Witness for Darfur,” sponsored by the Museum’s Committee on Conscience. Speakers included Senators Jon Corzine (NJ) and Sam Brownback (KS); Congressmen Donald Payne (NJ); and Amal Allagaboof the Darfurian community-in-exile; Holocaust Survivor Nesse Godin; and Committee on Conscience Staff Director Jerry Fowler.
“We Holocaust survivors know what it means to be victims of hate,” said Nesse Godin. “That’s why we stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Darfur.” Godin, originally from Lithuania, survived several concentration camps and a death march. She was liberated by Soviet troops in March 1945.
Already, tens of thousands of civilians have died in Sudan’s western region of Darfur. The victims are mostly from the Fur, Zaghawa and Masaalit groups, considered to be “Africans”; the attacks are largely by a government-supported “Arab” militia, known as the “Janjaweed.” The attackers have murdered and raped civilians, and destroyed villages, livestock, food production and storage facilities. More than one million have been driven from their homes and are now living in desperate, life-threatening conditions. Some have crossed into neighboring Chad, but most remain trapped in Darfur. The U.S. government estimates that 350,000 could die in coming months from famine, disease and killing.
“We need to stop saying ‘never again’ and start saying ‘not this time.’ The time for action in Darfur is now,” says the Museum’s Jerry Fowler, recently returned from visiting Sudanese refugee camps in Chad. “The obligation to prevent genocide is both moral and legal. Too often in the past—as this Museum starkly illustrates—delay in helping those in need has resulted in death and suffering on a massive scale.”
The Committee on Conscience at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which seeks to stimulate worldwide action to halt acts of genocide and related crimes against humanity, has issued a “Genocide Warning” for Darfur. More information about the Committee and the situation in Sudan can be found at www.ushmm.org/conscience.
Created by a unanimous act of Congress, the Museum is America’s national institution for Holocaust education and remembrance. As a public-private partnership, the Museum brings the history and lessons of the Holocaust to Americans from all walks of life through educational outreach, teacher training, traveling exhibitions, and scholarship. Since opening in April 1993, the Museum has welcomed more than 20.6 million visitors, including more than 6.5 million children.
For more information, visit www.ushmm.org.