President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama bow their heads during the closing prayer at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., February 3, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama bow their heads during the closing prayer at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., February 3, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

In a tragedy of the absurd, a high-level representative of Sudan’s genocidal regime has been invited to this year’s National Prayer Breakfast, an event that, in part, will commemorate 100 years since the Armenian genocide.

The invitation comes at a particularly troublesome time in Darfur. The Government of Sudan has recently bombed civilians in Darfur, blocked the investigation of a reported mass rape of over 200 Darfuri women, and, in the midst of the sharpest increase in violence in years, called for the removal of UN peacekeepers.

The impact is devastating. Half a million people were n displaced by violence in Darfur in 2014 and 36,000 more have already been displaced in 2015 — an average of over 1,000 per day.

The two invitees not only are in the Sudanese government, they both are directly implicated in atrocities committed in Sudan. Foreign Minister Ali Karti was head of the Popular Defense Forces that oversaw atrocities against the people of the Nuba Mountains in the 1990s and has been an influential part of the government.

Another official, Ibrahim Ghandour, a top advisor to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is currently wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide, will be meeting with State Department and White House officials.

Welcoming leaders of a genocidal regime to the U.S. is both outrageous and dangerous. Their presence at an event commemorating the Armenian genocide is abhorrent. It is bad enough that President Obama refuses to recognize a genocide that occurred one hundred years ago in Armenia. Now his administration is welcoming those with blood on their hands for the genocide and mass atrocities that continue in Sudan. The President should apologize to the many victims of this genocidal regime.

For far too long, President Obama has been silent on the atrocities in Darfur and across Sudan. By ignoring the violence and postponing justice, conditions have gotten much worse for the victims of the genocidal regime of Omar al-Bashir. Now, by laying out a welcome mat and taking steps to normalize relations, the administration is giving a green light for further atrocities.

Inviting these officials desecrates the memory of victims of genocide a century ago and blatantly ignores the fate of those in the crosshairs of the Sudanese regime today. If representatives of Sudan’s genocidal government are allowed at the National Prayer Breakfast, any prayers for peace for the people of Darfur will surely fall on deaf ears.

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