September 25, 1997
US Senators Denounce Sudan's Government
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senators denounced Sudan's Islamic government Thursday, saying the carnage wrought by the civil war in the south of the country was equal to that in all other recent international conflicts.
``It is not enough to be outraged by what has happened in Sudan,'' said Sen. John Ashcroft, R-Mo. ``The United States must be motivated to confront and isolate the rogue government in Khartoum responsible for inflicting untold misery on its citizens.''
Some 1.5 million people have died since the civil war in southern Sudan -- pitting forces from the Muslim government against a coalition of autonomy-seeking Christians and animists -- reignited 14 years ago. Nearly 5 million people have been displaced.
Human rights organizations say the security forces routinely employ aerial bombings, burning of villages, arbitrary arrests, child slavery and forced Islamizations in their fight against the separatists.
``The humanitarian catastrophe driven by religious and ethnic hatred in Sudan is comparable in scope to the tragedies of Somalia, Rwanda and Bosnia combined,'' said Ashcroft, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Africa subcommittee.
``Religious persecution is the driving principle of the regime (but) it is only one of the many human rights abuses present in the Sudan today,'' said Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis.
The government of President Omar el-Bashir denies it is responsible for the atrocities, saying the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army and its supporters in neighboring countries were to blame for the war. The government claims the United States has singled it out because of its opposition to the Arab-Israeli peace accords and close ties with Iran.
``Sudan is presently the only country in Sub-Saharan Africa that poses a direct threat to U.S. national interests,'' said Gare A. Smith, deputy assistant secretary of state for human rights.
The State Department announced this week that it was resuming its diplomatic presence in Sudan as part of a broader U.S. effort ``to increase pressure on the Sudanese government to change its objectionable behavior.'' It cited an improvement in security in the country.
U.S. diplomats had been withdrawn from Sudan in January 1996 because of concern about their safety. Mid-level diplomatic and support personnel are being reassigned there, but U.S. Ambassador Tim Carney will continue to live in Kenya. He has been making monthly trips to Sudan on official business.