February 12, 2008
Washington, D.C. -- Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH), a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, announced at a press conference today that he has signed onto a letter calling on President Hu Jintao of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to use his country’s influence with the government of Sudan to help the world bring an end to the violence that has resulted in one of the worst humanitarian crises of the 21st Century.
“Every attempt by the international community to end the crisis in Darfur has been thwarted by the Sudanese government, while the innocent continue to suffer,” said Chabot at today’s press conference announcing the letter to the PRC. “It is past time for nations such as China to use their influence with the government of Sudan to bring about much-needed stability in the region.”
Above from L to R: Suliman Giddo, president of Darfur Peace and Development; Dominique Dawes, Olympic gold medal winning gymnast; Congressman Michael Capuano, Joey Cheek, Olympic gold medal winning speed skater and Congressman Steve Chabot.
The letter, signed by 120 Members of the House of Representatives, urges the PRC to pressure Sudan into ending its obstruction of the United Nations – African Union Mission in Darfur’s (UNAMID) deployment and operations and to end it’s protection of the government of Sudan at the UN Security Council.
Chabot was joined at the press conference by Congressman Michael Capuano (D-MA); Suliman Giddo, a Darfurian who is the co-founder and president of Darfur Peace and Development; Rev. Gloria White-Hammond, M.D., co-founder, My Sister’s Keeper; Dominique Dawes, Olympic gold medal winning gymnast; and Joey Cheek, Olympic gold medal winning speed skater.
Last August, Chabot traveled to Darfur with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) and Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) to investigate the Darfur refugee camps and assess the ongoing humanitarian crisis. They met with a number of officials to encourage area governments to work toward resolving the conflict in Sudan and bring peace and stability to the region.
The full text of the letter is below:
His Excellency Hu Jintao
President, People’s Republic of China
c/o His Excellency Zhou Wen Zhong
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
Dear Mr. President:
We are writing to once again express our grave concern regarding the continuing atrocities taking place in the Darfur region of Sudan, and to urge you to use your significant influence with the government of Sudan to ensure that it ends its ongoing obstruction of peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts to protect civilians and restore a basic level of stability to the region. Without a much stronger effort from the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to convince the government of Sudan to end its obstruction, the real though limited progress made during the past year will be undone, and the possibility of an expanded regional crisis beyond Darfur’s borders will continue to grow.
The crisis in Darfur, which for nearly five years has been fueled in large part by the government of Sudan’s armed forces and its proxy Janjaweed militias, has already displaced over 2.5 million Darfurians, including over 140,000 in 2007, and has cost hundreds of thousands of lives. As the conflict continues and battles between the Sudanese army, its Janjaweed militias, and the ever-growing number of rebel factions intensify, the field of conflict has expanded to include additional areas of Chad, the Central African Republic, and Sudanese states to the east of Darfur such as Kordofan.
Millions of Sudanese civilians living in villages and in camps for the internally displaced suffer the consequences of the ongoing violence, as do local and international aid workers. This also imperils the basic food, medicine, and assistance on which most of these civilians depend for survival. The absolute need for the civilian protection and a basic level of humanitarian operational security has never been clearer.
We welcomed, therefore, the unanimous passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1769 on July 31, 2007, authorizing the United Nations – African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). We note with gratitude the leading role the PRC played in securing the government of Sudan’s commitment to the UNAMID mission, and further note the presence of Chinese military engineers deployed as part of that mission.
Yet, despite that unanimous commitment of the UN Security Council, the UNAMID mission is in danger of failure, according to recent statements by UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guehenno. This is due in large part to the government of Sudan’s efforts to weaken and delay the mission. The government of Sudan continues to block the full deployment of UNAMID by refusing to formally approve a UN-submitted list of potential troop contributors; by refusing all additional “non-African” troops, thus violating the letter and intent of Resolution 1769; by refusing to lease suitable land for use as UNAMID bases in Darfur, by demanding unreasonable and unprecedented terms in the Status of Forces Agreement; and by outrageously attempting to impose a nighttime curfew on UNAMID operations. In the latest egregious act, the government of Sudan’s Armed Forces itself attacked a UNAMID convoy on the night of January 7, 2008.
If such actions by the government of Sudan are allowed to continue, the resulting failure of UNAMID to achieve even a fraction of its mandate will call into question both the ability and the intent of the Security Council in general and the PRC in particular to follow through on the terms of Resolution 1769.
As the party which presided over and was instrumental in achieving the unanimous vote on Resolution 1769, the PRC bears a special responsibility to ensure that the UNAMID mission is fully deployed as agreed to by all parties on July 31, 2007. As the government of Sudan’s largest trading partner and benefactor, the PRC also enjoys a unique ability to end the government of Sudan’s blatant attempts to obstruct and weaken the UNAMID mission.
Unfortunately, the PRC has in recent months shown no willingness to take such action, and has instead reverted to its former role as the government of Sudan’s chief protector and apologist at the UN and on the international stage. While the PRC doubled its trade with Sudan and reaffirmed its friendship with the government of Sudan in 2007, it has since August shown no willingness to seriously hold its friend to account. To the contrary, reports from the UN Security Council indicate that the PRC has taken every opportunity to shield the government of Sudan from any attempt to hold it accountable for its willful obstruction of Resolution 1769, and even tried to shield it from the full and rightful condemnation of the Security Council following the January 7 Sudanese Armed Forces’ attack on the UNAMID convoy.
We therefore again urge the PRC to impress upon Khartoum the need to honor its commitments to the PRC and to the UN Security Council by ending its obstruction of UNAMID’s deployment and operations, ceasing all harassment of humanitarian aid operations in Darfur, and working faithfully towards a political solution by moving ahead with preparations for the legally mandated 2009 national elections.
We further urge the PRC to end its protection of the government of Sudan at the UN Security Council, and to support or at least abstain from any resolution put forward to create consequences via targeted sanctions for its continued obstruction of Resolution 1769. We believe your successful effort to strip sanctions language from Resolution 1769 – sanctions that would have provided clear incentives for Sudan’s cooperation with UNAMID -- is a main reason why Sudan has taken its obstructionist approach.
Mr. President, our primary objectives remain to protect civilians in Darfur, end the violence, find a just political solution to the conflict, and begin the long path to reconstruction and reconciliation. We remain committed to achieving these objectives, and will continue to work with any in the international community who truly wish to achieve them. We hope China is willing to responsibly do its part by using the tools unique to its close relationship with Sudan. Both history and contemporary public opinion will judge your government on the efforts that you have pursued to stop the perpetrators of genocide and to make common cause with the international community on behalf of the victims of Khartoum’s policies.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We look forward to your response.
Gary Ackerman, Tom Allen, Tammy Baldwin, Shelley Berkley, Howard Berman, Sanford Bishop, Tim Bishop, Earl Blumenauer, Leonard Boswell, Bob Brady, Mike Capuano, Christopher Carney, Steve Chabot, Yvette Clarke, Wm. Lacy Clay, Emanuel Cleaver, Jim Clyburn, Howard Coble, Steve Cohen, John Conyers, Joe Courtney, Elijah Cummings, Peter DeFazio, Diana DeGette, Rosa DeLauro, Lloyd Doggett, Mike Doyle, Keith Ellison, Bob Filner, Virginia Foxx, Barney Frank, Trent Franks, Scott Garrett, Charlie Gonzales, Bob Goodlatte, Al Green, Gene Green, Phil Hare, Jane Harman, Alcee Hastings, Wally Herger, Brian Higgins, Paul Hodes, Rush Holt, Mike Honda, Darlene Hooley, Steny Hoyer, Bob Inglis, Sheila Jackson Lee, Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Patrick Kennedy, Dennis Kucinich, Ray LaHood, Jim Langevin, Barbara Lee, Sandy Levin, Frank LoBiondo, Dave Loebsack, Zoe Lofgren, Nita Lowey, Steve Lynch, Carolyn Maloney, Donald Manzullo, Ed Markey, Doris Matsui, Michael McCaul, Betty McCollum, Thaddeus McCotter, Jim McGovern, Jerry McNerney. Michael McNulty, Kendrick Meek, Michael Michaud, Brad Miller, George Miller, Harry Mitchell, Gwen Moore, Jerry Moran, Jim Moran, Chris Murphy, Jim Oberstar, John Olver, Bill Pascrell, Ed Pastor, Donald Payne, Collin Peterson, Joe Pitts, Ciro Rodriguez, Steve Rothman, Bobby Rush, Tim Ryan, Jan Schakowsky, Adam Schiff, Allyson Schwartz, James Sensenbrenner, Joe Sestak, Chris Shays, Heath Shuler, Albio Sires, Pete Stark, Betty Sutton, Ellen Tauscher, Mike Thompson, John Tierney, Chris Van Hollen, Peter Visclosky, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Maxine Waters, Diane Watson, Mel Watt, Henry Waxman, Peter Welch, Frank Wolf, Lynn Woolsey, Albert Wynn, John Yarmuth