John Olver's office, through an administrative oversight, missed the opportunity to sign on to Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) May 07 letter to President Hu of China, demanding action on Darfur. This strongly worded letter had urged the Chinese government to take immediate action to save innocent lives and help bring an end to the conflict in Darfur. Withina few days Mr. Olver signed a separate but comparable letter to the Chinese President. The letter appears below.
Letter to President Hu of China on Darfur
May 16, 2007
President Hu Jintao
C/o Ambassador Zhou WenzhongEmbassy of China
2300 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.Washington DC 20008
Dear President Hu,
I wish to add my name to the list of over one hundred Members of Congress who wrote you last week to register their grave concern regarding the ongoing genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan.I request that you use your significant influence with the government of Sudan to ensure that it allows free conduct of humanitarian operations in Darfur and brings an end to the atrocities against innocent civilians. As the party that negotiated the inclusion of a clause to UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1706 requiring the consent of the Sudanese government for the deployment of a United Nations (UN) peacekeeping force, the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) bears a special responsibility to ensure, through decisive diplomacy and action, that President al-Bashir does provide that consent to the full implementation of phases II and III of the Addis Ababa Agreement of November 16, 2006.
The conflict waged by Sudanese government forces and government-backed Janjawid militias has driven more than 230,000 Darfuri refugees into Chad, and displaced more than 120,000 Chadians. In addition, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed and an estimated 2 million displaced in Darfur itself. The conflict has had particularly devastating consequences for women and children, who make up the vast majority of victims. The attacks against, and murder of over a dozen relief workers in recent months has disrupted humanitarian operations —leaving hundreds of thousands without access to the most basic assistance. I welcome the news that Sudan has been removed from the list of countries that your government provides incentives for Chinese businesses to invest in, and the public and private efforts you have made to encourage the government in Khartoum to accept the deployment of peacekeepers into the Darfur region. However, the PRC can and must do more. Unfortunately, the PRC remains the largest foreign investor in Sudan, and recently provided the government of Sudan an interest-free loan, worth $17m to build a presidential palace. Unfortunately, the PRC has reportedly been engaged in arms sales with the government of Sudan, arms which are used by government forces and the Janjweed militia to maim and kill innocent Sudanese civilians. These actions send the wrong message to Khartoum, as does the recent cancellation of a $70m dollar debt that the Sudanese government owes to the PRC, and the China’s projects to rehabilitate Sudan’s railways and water ports.
I urge you to impress upon Khartoum the need to halt Sudan's military operations throughout Darfur, to withdraw Sudanese troops from the area, and to honor its commitment to accept the ‘heavy support package’ which includes a robust AU/UN peacekeeping force in Darfur, under a UN-appointed commander, police officers, civilian staff and humanitarian workers. These steps, at a minimum, are essential to enforce the ceasefire, protect civilians, ensure access to humanitarian assistance, and begin the path to reconstruction and reconciliation in Darfur. I further urge that should a resolution be put forward at the UNSC proposing sanctions on the government of Sudan for non-compliance with its agreements or non-cooperation with the UN peace-keeping force, you instruct your Ambassador, at the United Nations, to support the resolution by, at the very least, abstaining from voting.
President Hu, the upcoming 2008 Beijing Olympic Games are going to be an important event for the image of the PRC. Millions of people will visit China, and over a billion people will tune into their radios and televisions to witness the expression of international peace and solidarity, through friendly competition in sports. It would be a disaster for China if the games were to be marred by protests, from concerned individuals and groups, whom will undoubtedly link your government to the continued atrocities in Darfur, if there is no significant improvement in the conditions. Already there are calls to boycott what is increasingly being described as the 2008 ‘Genocide Olympics.’ As Sudan’s single largest trading partner, and the main beneficiary of their significant crude oil exports and construction contracts, we urge you to protect your country’s image from being irredeemably tarnished, through association with a genocidal regime, for the purposes of economic gains. The primary objectives are to protect civilians in Darfur, end the violence, find a just resolution to the political conflict, and begin the long path to reconstruction and reconciliation, and we hope China shares these objectives. The international community is stepping up to its responsibilities, but unless China does its part to ensure that the government of Sudan accepts the best and most reasonable path to peace, history will judge your government as having bank-rolled a genocide.Thank you for your immediate attention to this important matter and I look forward to your response.
John W. Olver
Member of Congress