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What’s the going rate for souls these days? How about $20,000 a month? Such was the deal offered by the National Islamic Front (also known as the National Congress Party) government of Sudan to Washington, DC attorney Bart S. Fisher for help getting Sudan removed from the U.S.’s State Sponsors of Terrorism list.
Act for Sudan, a new alliance of activists against genocide in Sudan,1 alerted U.S. Representative Frank R. Wolf (R-VA) to the Islamist government in Khartoum’s hiring of Fisher. When Khartoum had tried the same thing in 2009, Mr. Wolf wrote a scathing letter to President Obama asking him to direct the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to deny any waiver requests by U.S. companies seeking to represent the government of Sudan. An OFAC waiver is necessary because in 1997 then President Clinton issued an Executive Order imposing a trade embargo against the entire territory of Sudan and total asset freeze against the Khartoum government. Clinton cited Sudan for “continued support for international terrorism, ongoing efforts to destabilize neighboring governments and the prevalence of human rights violations, including slavery and denial of religious freedom.” Not much has changed.2
On Tuesday, December 13, Wolf, who had written once again to President Obama, went to the House floor to condemn Khartoum’s arrangement with Bart Fisher, saying:
Mr. Speaker, I was appalled and outraged to learn yesterday that the genocidal government of Khartoum has hired a lobbyist to represent its interests here in Washington. . . Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan Bashir is an internationally indicted war criminal. Bashir is accused by the International Criminal Court of five counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, torture and extermination, and two counts of war crimes.
But Khartoum’s crimes are not simply a thing of the past. . . .
My office has received regular reliable reports from individuals on the ground . . . We’ve learned of ongoing aerial bombardments in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states. We’ve heard nightmarish accounts of extrajudicial killings, illegal detention, disappearances, and indiscriminate attacks against civilians. Furthermore, evidence gathered through satellite imagery by the Satellite Sentinel Project shows at least eight mass graves found in and around Kadugli, the capital of Southern Kordofan.
Literally thousands have fled the violence. Which begs the question: who is their lobbyist? They are in desperate straits having left behind their entire lives. Who is their lobbyist? They are facing malnourishment and prolonged displacement. Who is their lobbyist?
Further protest of Fisher’s arrangements with Khartoum came on Friday, December 16, when members of Act for Sudan were joined by other Sudan advocates to demonstrate outside of the law offices of Bart Fisher. Act for Sudan reported, “Carrying protest signs and chanting, ‘Mr. Fisher, step aside, you’re representing genocide,’ the activists called on the attorney to stop helping Sudan avoid consequences for ongoing government-sponsored genocide and mass atrocities.” Protestors were buoyed by the participation of Congressman Wolf, who warned President Obama, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the head of OFAC that “history will be their judge if they fail to act.” Jeff Walton, IRD’s representative at the protest, said that the timing could not have been better as lunchtime crowds were very interested in what the protestors had to say.
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