Oversight Hearing on Darfur and the Olympics

Posted on by Jesse Lee

The Oversight and Government Reform Committee is currently holding a hearing, “Darfur and the Olympics: A Call for International Action.” Subcommittee Chairman John Tierney has invited classrooms across the country (pdf) to watch the hearing. On Tuesday the House passed a resolution introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee calling on the government of the People's Republic of China to use its unique influence and economic leverage to stop genocide and violence in Darfur.

See the witness list (pdf) >>

Watch the hearing live >>

The Committee opens the hearing by viewing a video produced by students of Danbury High School in Connecticut:

“Be the change that you want to see in the world.”

Subcommittee Chairman John Tierney gives opening remarks:

Chairman Tierney:
“If anyone in the world community has leverage on the Sudanese government, it is China. And what better country to help lead the effort to end the tragedy in Darfur than the host of the 2008 Olympics? While China has recently made some initial steps to be helpful, I don’t know of anyone who thinks that they couldn’t do more.”

Students Nick Anderson and Ana Slavin discuss their work to stop the genocide through their co-founding of Dollars for Darfur, which reached out to students through tools like MySpace and Facebook amongst other avenues:

Nick Anderson:
“We sought to harness the goodwill that we know is ubiquitous in students of our generation, and provide them with a format to affect change. We aspire to define our generation as one that acted, and made a difference. It was always our goal to motivate fellow high school students- but somewhere along the way I realized that kids all across this country had deeply inspired me and opened my eyes to the power of individuals uniting to assert the indelible right to justice and liberty for all people in our global community.”

Daoud Ibrahaem Hari, a Darfuri refugee who was taken hostage and a translator for journalists including Nick Kristof, gives opening testimony:

Daoud Ibrahaem Hari:
“I took this risk because I want to show the world the tragedies happening to my people. I even went back to Darfur with journalists and some NGOs six times to talk with the victims and hear their stories. I remember interviewing with Nick Kristof of the New York Times, a 14 year-old child soldier of the Janjaweed… who was wounded by the villagers. He told us the government of Sudan had paid them $200 dollars to come destroy this village, and if they succeeded they were paid $700 dollars.”

Tegla Loroupe, a Kenyan Olympic distance runner, world record holder, and United Nations Ambassador of Sport gives opening testimony:

Tegla Loroupe:
“They should see that the businesses that they deal in Sudan should bring peace but not pain in the eyes oif the children. In the eyes of the poor, that cannot talk. Today I want to ask the Congress that you have to come forth and help, you are the voice of the voiceless, of these people that are suffering. It’s your duty, it’s my duty, it’s the duty for everybody in this House to stand firm and tell the whole world…”

Joey Cheek, American Olympic Gold Medalist speedskater, gives opening testimony:

Joey Cheek:
“I think it’s also important to point out that, by choosing to host an Olympics, China in particular looks to use this as their coronation on the world stage. They are an enormously developing nation, they’re going to be a world power, if they’re not yet, very shortly. And you don’t get to host the Olympics, you don’t get to this great event, with all the glow and all the good feelings that come along with it without accepting the responsibility of what you’re proclaiming.”

John Prendergast, Senior Advisor to the International Crisis Group and Co-Founder of the ENOUGH Campaign, gives opening testimony:

John Prendergast:
“A crucial misperception I think has to be corrected if we’re going to be effective in Darfur. The UN doesn’t move by itself. It has to be moved by the brain inside the United Nations which is the United Nations Security Council, the most powerful nation in the Security Council is the United States. The UN moves when the US moves it. I worked in the last administration, I spent a lot of time doing this stuff, it simply doesn’t happen unless we move. So to displace responsibility to other nations or to international organizations of which we’re the dominant member, does a disservice, I think, to the cause.”

Jill Savitt, Director of the Olympic Dream for Darfur Campaign, gives opening testimony:

Jill Savitt:
“Your holding this hearing shows that you understand the strategic importance that China can play right now in this fortuitous moment of having a close strategic and economic partner of the Sudanese government being the host of the Olympics. So the question today is what might be done to pressure China, what are the tools at our disposal. I want to tell you about a new campaign, it’s called the Olympic Dream for Darfur, that has just launched, it’s part of the larger Darfur advocacy community, and it’s one very concrete way that we want to use the Olympics to as a point of leverage to convince China to cause Khartoum to consent to a real UN protection force and to engage in a peace process.”
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