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U.S. Representative Frank R. Wolf (R-VA) took the mainstream media to task for poor coverage of what he called “a really big story” on Thursday, September 22, at a hearing before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (TLHRC) on human rights violations in Sudan. Wolf oversaw a morning of powerful testimonies about the National Congress Party (NCP) regime’s continuing atrocities in the Nuba Mountains/South Kordofan, Darfur and other contested regions. He reiterated the need to support Sudan’s marginalized people in their efforts to bring change and noted the lack of media attention to the aerial bombardment, extrajudicial killings, government-orchestrated starvation, and arbitrary arrests that have been taking place since the NCP launched its attack on the Nuba Mountains, June 5, 2011.
Witnesses at the hearing were in agreement that Sudan’s problem is the Islamist regime in Khartoum. The first panel was devoted to Sudan’s refugee crisis. Jana Mason, senior advisor, U.S. Government and External Relations for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, focused on Darfurian refugees who may have no home to return to, even if peace comes to Darfur. She said land ownership “was complicated.” But some describe the complication as Khartoum colonizing parts of Darfur with nomadic people groups from elsewhere in Sudan and the Arab world while continuing to perpetrate genocide on African inhabitants of Darfur.
Tom Andrews, former member of Congress and president of United to End Genocide, was the first witness on the second panel. Andrews, who has just recently returned from Sudan, called President Omar al-Bashir a “genocidal monster” and told of speaking to Darfurians who had sought refuge with the Nuba from Khartoum’s Janjaweed. These refugees now experienced new horror as Janjaweed galloped through Kauda, Kadugli and elsewhere in the Nuba Mountains with orders from al-Bashir to “sweep out the trash” and kill the Nuba “when you find them.” Andrews also spoke to Nuba priests who had fled to South Sudan, reporting house to house searches for Christians and supporters of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) taking place. Christians are a special target of Khartoum in the Nuba Mountains and throughout Sudan.
Jehanne Henry, senior researcher on Sudan for Human Rights Watch, revealed that while U.S. response to the massacre taking place in Sudan was inadequate, it was more than that of the African Union and the U.N. Security Council. Neither of these agencies had yet even condemned Khartoum bombings. She also stated that there were reports of bombings and other atrocities taking place in Blue Nile State, another contested region, as well. Satellite photos from the Satellite Sentinel Project confirm these reports.
Omer Ismail, senior policy advisor for Enough Project, reported that the Satellite Sentinel Project had discovered “at least” eight mass graves in the Nuba Mountains. He urged Congress to look at the Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile and elsewhere in the larger context and “address the source, not the symptoms.” “The U.S. must listen and respond to the voices for change in Sudan,” he urged, noting that the same international community that became so heavily involved in Egypt and Libya because of government oppression “should have been there” for Sudan from the time of the genocide in South Sudan.
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