What Needs To Be Done For Darfur

More than 10,000 people gathered in the National Mall on Sunday, while thousands more attended rallies across the country, to support the suffering people of Darfur. Music and film stars have helped attract more attention to the cause, and the White House has expressed its concern.All this is good news.

When the Holocaust unfolded, there were no rallies, there were no demonstrations, there was no legislation, there was just silence and indifference. I salute everyone who has stood up during these last few weeks and months to tell the oppressors, "We shall no longer mourn this genocide, we shall stop it."

As the Holocaust taught us, a villainous government that persecutes its own people cannot be counted on to keep its word; it must be compelled to do so.

We need to dispatch NATO forces to protect internally displaced women, children, and men in Darfur right now, to remain there until this fall, when United Nations troops are to be deployed to assist the overmatched African Union presence there.

A peace deal between the Sudanese government and Darfur rebel groups hangs in the balance. The United States, the European Union and the AU must press the parties to establish and maintain lasting peace.

Congress must work to reconcile the Senate and House versions of the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act of 2006, which will block assets and deny visas to government and Janjaweed commanders responsible for the genocide.

And Congress needs to pass H. Res. 723, which proposes NATO support for the AU using ground and air assets to protect civilians, and other NATO countries need to follow suit, to let the world know the Darfur genocide is an international tragedy that requires an immediate international response.

Getting arrested at a protest in front of the Sudanese embassy last Friday and speaking at Sunday’s rally on the mall were just the latest steps that a number of Members of Congress have taken to call attention to the plight of Darfur. Now we need to seize this moment to bring the atrocities in Darfur to an end.

(Congressman Tom Lantos is the ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee and the founding co-chairman of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus)

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