Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Prayer for the Dying

Our weekly post from the Coalition for Darfur

As Mark Leon Goldberg of the American Prospect reported back in April, the Bush administration was leaning heavily on congressional leaders and managed to stall, and probably killed, the Darfur Accountability Act.

As Goldberg explained, the bill
[E]stablishes targeted U.S. sanctions against the Sudanese regime, accelerates assistance to expand the size and mandate of the African Union mission in Darfur,expands the United Nations Mission in Sudan to include the protection of civilians in Darfur, establishes a no-fly zone over Darfur, and calls for a presidential envoy to Sudan.
Because of this pressue, the bill appears to be trapped in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Relations, presumably never to be seen again.

So what is Congress going to do now that sanctions, a no-fly zone and civilian protection are off the table? Apparently it has been reduced to "[encouraging] the people of the United States [to pray] for an end to the genocide and crimes against humanity and for lasting peace in Darfur, Sudan."

That's right, the US Congress has been reduced to calling on the American people to pray that somehow this genocide ends.

On July 1st, the US Senate quietly passed S.RES.186
A resolution affirming the importance of a national weekend of prayer for the victims of genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur, Sudan, and expressing the sense of the Senate that July 15 through July 17, 2005, should be designated as a national
weekend of prayer and reflection for the people of Darfur.
The House passed a companion resolution (H.RES.333) just yesterday.

The key portion of the resolution reads as follows

Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

(1) supports the goals and ideals of a National Weekend of Prayer and Reflection for Darfur, Sudan;

(2) encourages the people of the United States to observe that weekend by praying for an end to the genocide and crimes against humanity and for lasting peace in Darfur, Sudan; and

(3) urges all churches, synagogues, mosques, and religious institutions in the United States to consider the issue of Darfur in their activities and to observe the National Weekend of Prayer and Reflection with appropriate activities and services.

This resolution appears to be the work of the SaveDarfur Coalition, a vital organization that has done a great deal to raise awareness of the genocide - but what does it say about the level of US commitment to address this situation when Congress is unwilling to do anything beyond simply asking the American people to pray for the dying people of Darfur?

If members of Congress are truly concerned about the deaths of nearly 400,000 Darfuris, or the fates of an estimated 3 million more, they are certainly capable of doing more than quietly declaring a "National Weekend of Prayer and Reflection."

Save Darfur deserves credit for getting Congress to even do this much, but this resolution cannot absolve Congress of its pathetic failure to adequately address the situation in Darfur. If anything, it only serves to highlight the government's utter lack of concern.

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