Senator Jon S. Corzine
Thank you all for being here today. I thank our host Jerry Fowler and the US Museum of the Holocaust. This Museum preserves historical memories vital for what they teach us about the worst and the best of the human condition and spirit; it is a venue which could not be more appropriate or more urgently relevant to events in Darfur.
We are especially honored to have with us today a survivor of the Holocaust, Ms. Nessie Godin and Ms. Amal Amagabo, a member of the Darfur diaspora and survivor of the tragic events now unfolding in western Sudan. Please allow me to recognize my colleagues, Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, Congressmen Donald Payne, my fellow New Jerseyan, and Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.
I wish Senator Brownback, and Congressman Frank Wolf of Virginia, “Godspeed” as they prepare to leave for their terribly important visit to Darfur; I thank them for making that journey.
We today call for meaningful international action to halt the genocidal campaign in Darfur by Sudanese authorities. Some thirty thousand innocent civilians have been killed in direct attacks already, as part of the Sudanese regime’s policy to wipe out ethnic groups it deems insufficiently loyal. Over one million have been violently displaced, their farms burned, many of their neighbors and family members murdered. Rape has been used as a deliberate tool of policy. Driven off their lands, many of these civilians, mostly women and children, have been forced into Sudanese-organized collection camps – camps which are no more than guarded, open-air starvation pens. Tens of thousands in these camps are experiencing severe malnutrition, disease and famine.
The U.S. Government estimates that, because Sudan has prevented humanitarian access and aid deliveries, over three hundred thousand could die in Darfur this year, with perhaps as many as one million at risk of dying.
We today demand that, in the name of humanity, the displaced and refugee peoples of Darfur, all of African ethnicity and Muslim religious faith, be allowed to receive humanitarian aid and to return to their homes, that international action be taken to ensure their security, that a legal mechanism be established to hold accountable those who committed these outrages, and that a formal peace process be begun.
We must confront the possibility of genocide and act. Unless governments act now, we may find ourselves, in the future, commemorating what would be called the Sudan Genocide of 2004, just as we last month commemorated the Rwanda Genocide of 1994, in which eight hundred thousand died.
Every statistic reported from Darfur is someone’s child, mother or father, someone’s wife, sister or brother, and we know it could just as easily be our own family. The United States has a great deal on its plate right now, but not addressing events in Darfur on a highest priority basis is not an option.
As more than one keen observer has written, Khartoum is betting on our being too busy -- that our many pressing commitments in the world, and simple moral fatigue, will prevent us from truly weighing in on Darfur, from putting Sudanese authorities on notice that this is not a rhetorical exercise and that they cannot get away with genocide. Khartoum wants us and the UN Security Council, the world’s highest deliberative body, to take an easier road, to fiddle while Darfur burns, and while the ethnically African peoples of Darfur are exterminated.
Our answer to this Machiavellian calculation must be an unequivocal and collective “NO”.
The United States and its partners acting bilaterally or, preferably, via the UN, do in fact have the legal tools and the diplomatic, financial and other resources to do the job.
We must choose to remember the past and not to repeat it – the past that, as this Museum reminds us, is always with us. Our government and those of our principal allies, can and must choose to act on our common humanity, to prevent Darfur from being added to the list of modern genocides.
We today demand they do so.