Pelosi: Genocide in Darfur Concerns Entire World; We Must Rise to Meet the Challenge'
Washington, D.C. - House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Congressmen Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Donald Payne (D-NJ) joined the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom this morning in unveiling its new policy report on human rights in Sudan. Below are Pelosi's remarks as prepared:
"Last month, when our bipartisan group of Congressional leaders traveled to Darfur, we saw refugee children surviving the brutal heat, without shade and adequate clothing, sleeping under USAID food bags stitched together. We saw their parents walking for miles for firewood and water with the constant fear that the Janjaweed may attack. We heard stories of villages torched, husbands and fathers tortured and then killed, and rape being used as a weapon of war.
"But among this horror, we saw the bright and playful eyes of toddlers, and the more haunted eyes of the older children. I know I speak for the entire delegation when I say - we longed to take those children home with us.
"Instead, today we have brought you their faces and our sense of outrage and urgency about the need to act. Darfur is a challenge to the conscience of the world. It is also a challenge to the moral leadership of the United States.
"The U.S. Commission on International Freedom is helping us meet that challenge. Because of its ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom,' Sudan has long been a country of particular concern' for the Commission. With this report, we are given a full picture of the situation on the ground: the lack of religious freedom, the problems in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and the refugee situation in Darfur.
"The Commission found:
* In the areas not controlled by the Khartoum government, religious freedom conditions have improved, notably in the South and in the formerly-contested areas; however, in the North, religious freedoms are severely curtailed - a strong indictment of the government in Khartoum;
* The peace is fragile. Key institutions have not been established and the religious freedom and human rights protections have not resulted in significant changes;
* The U.S. and the international community must provide stronger leadership to end the atrocities and protect the displaced persons and refugees in Darfur and Sudan.
"Genocide is not the domestic affair of any nation in the world - it concerns the entire world, and we must rise to meet the challenge. Upon our return from the region, we met with President Bush at the White House, and strongly endorsed the appointment of a U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan. This Special Envoy would signal that bringing peace and stability to Sudan is a top priority for the United States.
"The religious freedom of all citizens in the world must also be a priority for us. From Abdur Rahman in Afghanistan, to Tibetan nun Phuntsog Nyidrol, to the rights of those in Sudan to practice their chosen religion freely, the United States must make religious freedom a key component of our foreign policy."