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Sudan Peace, Security and Accountability Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, just yesterday the former top U.N. humanitarian official in Sudan, Mukesh Kapila, issued a warning to the world. He said that the Government of Sudan's military is carrying out crimes against humanity in the country's southern Nuba Mountains in the Sudanese state of South Kordofan. He said that these acts remind him of Darfur. Kapila said he saw military planes striking villagers, the destruction of food stocks, and literally a scorched-earth policy. He said the attacks reminded him of what he witnessed in Sudan's Darfur region in 2003 and 2004 when the predominantly Arab government in Khartoum targeted black tribes. Kapila served as the U.N.'s top humanitarian official in Sudan at the time. He said that the world must act now to prevent another Darfur-type situation in the Nuba Mountains.

The people of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, two states inside Sudan along its southern border, are facing a hunger crisis. They haven't been able to plant because the government of President Bashir is bombing them in their fields. Sudan has refused to let humanitarian aid into the region. The United States, the United Nations, and other governments have condemned these attacks against civilians.

My good friend and colleague, Congressman Frank Wolf, traveled to this border region at the end of February. He interviewed refugees, recorded their stories of terror: bombing from the sky and soldiers burning villages and shooting defenseless civilians; mothers fleeing for their lives with their children, abandoning their homes. I urge my colleagues to go to the Web site of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission and watch the video he has posted there. That's at

We need to speak out, Mr. Speaker. We need to let our government and the world know that people care and that we demand protection for these people from Khartoum's murderous policies.

This is why I and my colleagues, Congressmen Frank Wolf and Mike Capuano, are introducing today the Sudan Peace, Security and Accountability Act. This bill calls for a comprehensive approach towards Sudan to address and end the massive human rights violations that are taking place across that country. No longer should we allow President Bashir to blackmail the international community by threatening humanitarian workers in Darfur if the world tries to reach the desperate people in the Nuba Mountains with food and relief supplies.

We need a comprehensive strategy and comprehensive sanctions against Khartoum if the violations continue. We need to let other countries know that if they welcome and provide comfort to President Bashir and members of his government who have been indicted for crimes against humanity, including genocide, that they, too, will face sanctions.

We need to provide the Obama administration with all the tools and all the authority it needs to seek a comprehensive peace in Sudan, end human rights violations, and bring those guilty of crimes against humanity to justice.

For decades the powers that be in Khartoum have toyed with the international community, while its own people paid the price over and over again. It has to stop, Mr. Speaker. It simply has to stop.

Let me end, Mr. Speaker, with a few other remarks.

No one can come to the House floor today and speak about Sudan and protecting the people of Sudan from their murderous government without paying tribute to our dear colleague, Donald Payne.

Congressman Payne passed away yesterday from cancer. He would have been an original cosponsor of the bill I'm introducing today. No one fought harder for human rights in Sudan. He was among the very first to call attention to the genocide taking place in Darfur. He traveled there, often alone, with just one or two aides, to talk to refugees inside Darfur and in camps along the border and to stand witness to their suffering. He was tireless in his commitment to the people of Africa and their well-being.

We all looked to him for leadership, for advice, and for help. He extended this same commitment to the people of African descent in our own hemisphere. I personally know how much he did to promote the rights of Afro-Colombians and to protect their leaders and communities. We will miss him and we will miss his leadership.

Mr. Speaker, he believed that human rights ought to matter. And he believed, as we all should believe, that if the United States of America stands for anything, it ought to stand out loud and foursquare for human rights.

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