July 14, 2008
At last, Sudan’s President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir may finally face judgment for his crimes. Luis Moreno-Ocampo of Argentina, prosecutor at the International Criminal Court based in The Hague, has asked the court for an arrest warrant. It comes three years after the U.N. Security Council requested him to investigate the atrocities in the Darfur region of Sudan.
The evidence covering the five years since 2003 has brought 10 charges against President Al-Bashir: three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of murder. It is the first time a sitting head of state has been accused of such crimes. Moreno-Ocampo accuses Al-Bashir of both conceiving and implementing a plan to destroy three tribes in Darfur (the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa peoples) who rebelled against the Islamic government for its pattern of bias and marginalization against them. Khartoum then organized a local Arab militia, called the Janjaweed, and carried out a brutal counterinsurgency against civilians that has killed more than 300,000 people and left two and a half million homeless. “His motives were largely political. His alibi was a ‘counterinsurgency’. His intent was genocide,” the Prosecutor said.
Al-Bashir’s government uses rape as a weapon of war against his own people. One victim told of how when the forces surround the camp, “we run. Some of us succeed in getting away, and some are caught and taken to be raped—gang raped. Maybe around 20 men rape one woman. These things happen all the time. . . They rape girls in front of their mothers and fathers.”
The Prosecutor further pointed out the cruel nature of the crimes: “Al-Bashir organized the destitution, insecurity and harassment of the survivors. He did not need bullets. He used other weapons—rapes, hunger, and fear. As efficient, but silent.”
One of Sudan’s two vice-presidents denies the allegations, calling them “null and void.” President Al-Bashir points out that Sudan is not a party to the International Court and says it will ignore the announcement.
Although it will take months for any action against Al-Bashir to take place, at least the indictment calls the world’s attention to the genocide he is carrying out in plain view.
NOTORIOUS JANJAWEED ARRESTED
Khartoum, October 24, 2008
The International Court is active again in Sudan. It has just arrested (Oct. 13) a notorious janjaweed militia leader Ali Muhamad Ali Abd-al-Rahman (also known as Ali Kushayb). He is charged with crimes against humanity in 2007 for planning the attacks in the Darfur region that led to the rape and murder of civilians and the destruction of entire villages.
Whereas previously the Sudanese government ignored orders to extradite Kushayb, its sudden willingness to cooperate suggests that his arrest may have been merely an attempt to ease International pressure on President Omar Hassan al-Bashir who was recently accused of war crimes and genocide in Darfur.