Bush’s Sudan Ambassador: There Is No Genocide in Darfur

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"Bush’s Sudan Ambassador: There Is No Genocide in Darfur"

Last month, Bush’s Special Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan Andrew Natsios told a group of Georgetown students that the “term genocide is counter to the facts of what is really occurring in Darfur.”

In a testy exchange with Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing yesterday, Natsios defiantly refused to characterize the ongoing violence in Darfur as a genocide.

MENENDEZ: Do you consider the ongoing situation in Darfur a genocide, yes or no? [...]

NATSIOS: There is very little violence in Darfur right now.

MENENDEZ: I asked you to answer my question.

NATSIOS: I just answered your question.

MENENDEZ: Is the circumstances in Darfur today a continuing genocide? Yes or no?

NATSIOS: There is very little fighting between rebels and the government and very few civilian casualties going on in Darfur right now.

Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/04/natsios2007.320.240.flv]

A recent Oxfam report on Sudan stated that “today the situation is as desperate as ever,” as “in the first two months of 2007, more than 80,000 more people fled the ongoing violence.” “The ongoing violence in Sudan’s Darfur region continued to rise” as peacekeepers were fatally attacked in North Darfur just this week.

Furthermore, the violence is increasingly dispersing. The U.N. reported yesterday that “in latest sign that violence plaguing Darfur is spilling into neighboring Chad,” between 200 and 400 Chadians were feared dead in an “unusally brutal attack” last month. “What is happening in Chad has Darfur as its epicenter,” said a U.N. spokesman. “We’ve been warning this for months.”

Natsios’s comments are part of a sad effort by the Bush administration to declare victory in the midst of an ongoing slaughter.

To learn what can you do about the situation in Darfur, visit the Enough Project.

Digg It!

Transcript:

MENENDEZ: You know, I want to ask you a question: Do you still stand by what you were quoted in the Georgetown Voice, saying that the ongoing crisis in Darfur is no longer a genocide situation?

NATSIOS: Senator, I actually — there was a retraction of that by the newspaper the following week. I actually looked at my statement very clearly. I did not say that at the — there were three mistakes, and the Georgetown Voice…

MENENDEZ: So would now tell the committee what is the situation in Darfur? Is it a genocide?

NATSIOS: In Darfur, Senator, right now there is very little fighting in Darfur.

MENENDEZ: That does not mean…

NATSIOS: Senator, could I finish?

(CROSSTALK)

MENENDEZ: The question is, do you consider…

NATSIOS: Senator…

MENENDEZ: Answer my question. I have a limited amount of time, Ambassador. If I ask you to be specific and answer my question.

NATSIOS: I’m answering your question.

MENENDEZ: Do you — you can’t answer if you haven’t heard it. Do you consider the ongoing situation in Darfur a genocide, yes or no?

NATSIOS: What you just…

MENENDEZ: Yes or no.

NATSIOS: Senator, please. What you just read did not take place in Darfur…

MENENDEZ: I didn’t…

(CROSSTALK)

NATSIOS: There is very little…

MENENDEZ: I’m asking you yes or no.

NATSIOS: There is very little violence in Darfur right now.

MENENDEZ: I asked you to answer my question.

NATSIOS: I just answered your question.

MENENDEZ: Is the circumstances in Darfur today a continuing genocide? Yes or no?

NATSIOS: There is very little fighting between rebels and the government and very few civilian casualties going on in Darfur right now. I told you…

MENENDEZ: I’m not asking whether diminished fighting. I’m asking whether the situation in Darfur today is a genocide. Yes or no. Yes or no.

NATSIOS: The situation is very volatile. There are periods of killing which could be construed as genocide that took place last year.

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