An Envoy Reports and a Letter Is Sent

Fueled by oil money, the Islamic government in Sudan continues its reign of terror against Christians and animists. The eighteen-year-old civil war that has already claimed 2 million lives and left 4.5 million people displaced and homeless rages on. Last September, in a Rose Garden ceremony attended by a number of BreakPoint and Wilberforce Forum staff members, President Bush named Senator John Danforth special envoy for peace in Sudan. Two weeks ago, Danforth made his report to the President. "The human suffering I witnessed was staggering," he said. "I talked to people who had been attacked by government helicopters and had fled to the bush with nothing but the clothes on their backs. I talked to others who had been abducted by marauding Arab raiders, subjected to unspeakable brutality, separated from their children and reduced to lives of servitude." He reported on the government-sanctioned slavery that some in Congress and the media have attempted to deny. "The record is clear," said Danforth. "The Government arms and directs marauding raiders who operate in the south, destroying villages and abducting women and children to serve as chattel servants, herders and field hands." The report rightly states that the United States can't impose a settlement on Sudan. We can, however, encourage the government and forces in the south to reach an agreement. Which brings me to the Sudan Peace Act. The Sudan Peace Act passed the House of Representatives on June 13, 2001, and the Senate on July 19, 2001. And then it stopped. The bill never got to conference so that House and Senate members could hammer out the differences between their respective versions. Why not? Because the Senate never appointed conferees, because of the opposition of some Senate Republicans and the White House, which dislikes sanctions. Now in a May 21 letter, the Congressional Black Caucus called on Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle to break the deadlock and appoint conferees. "Sudan's forgotten war," they wrote, "may not be of geopolitical interest to the U.S., but it is in our vital national moral interest. These victims are Africans without important constituencies to argue their case, except for the courageous church groups, NGOs [non-governmental organizations], and human rights activists who continue to fight for the helpless and for a just peace in Sudan." They also made reference to capital market sanctions -- a key provision of the House bill, but one that was excised in the Senate version. The government terror in Sudan depends on oil money. Capital market sanctions would bar companies doing business with Sudan from U.S. stock exchanges. Talisman Energy, one such company, admits that this would be intolerable and would force them to withdraw from Sudan, cutting off the flow of cash. Senator Danforth is right: If we expect to see peace in Sudan, the Sudanese must work out their own terms. But the Congressional Black Caucus is also right: The Sudan Peace Act with capital market sanctions is what is needed to get both sides to the table and end eighteen years of genocide, terrorism, and slavery. A call or letter to your senator can help. Will you do this for the persecuted church? Take action: Urge your senators to call for the appointment of conferees who will ensure sanctions are included in the Sudan Peace Act. Call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. For more information: John C. Danforth, "Report to the President of the United States on the Outlook for Peace in Sudan," released May 14, 2002.


Chuck Colson


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