Don't Let President al-Bashir of Sudan Get Away With Murder
Eight years of impunity is too long for the suffering people of Darfur
On this date, eight years ago the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued the second arrest warrant against President al-Bashir for the crime of genocide committed against the people of Darfur. Today we write to remind you that President al-Bashir remains an internationally known fugitive and the only sitting head of state wanted by the ICC.
We at Darfur Women Action Group (DWAG) would like to express our grave concern about the continued impunity that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir enjoys and the inaction by the United Nations Security Council. We wish to remind the world that al-Bashir's crimes must not only be exposed but must be punished and brought to justice.
For fourteen years, violence, killing, rape, arrest, and torture have devastated the lives of the innocent civilians in Darfur. Countless men, women, and children have died while survivors endure unimaginable conditions and yet the perpetrator remains free.
In 2009, in response to the ICC arrest warrants, President al-Bashir retaliated by forcing thirteen international NGOs to leave Sudan, and he shut down three national organizations that provided lifesaving assistance to internally displaced people (IDPs) in Darfur. As a result, conditions severely deteriorated, and IDPs were subjected to acute malnutrition, disease, water shortages, and starvation. These actions constitute another grave crime of intention for which the Sudanese government must be held responsible.
Between the beginning of 2017 and last month, the Sudanese government has committed brutal attacks against civilians. Recent attacks include the Nertiti massacre and in Elgenaina, West Darfur and the recent cruel attack in Golo, Jebel Marra during the last week of June. Systematic rapes of women and girls have been a dominant feature of the weekly reports from Radio Dabanga and other news sources coming out of Darfur.
Throughout 2016, we have witnessed the highest rate of escalation of terror in recent years. The most troubling is that there have been credible allegations of the use of chemical weapons reported by reliable sources; however, this has not yet been investigated.
The Arab Janjaweed (Rapid Support Forces) has been fully integrated into the Sudan Armed Forces and has been given full authority over Darfur; they have been allowed to rape, kill, burn and oppress their victims.
To this day, conditions have not improved. Over three million Darfur genocide victims remain displaced, living in deplorable conditions and are unable to return home, in part because foreigners brought by the government have occupied most of their lands. At the same time, the Sudanese Government continues to carry out or sponsor violent attacks against innocent civilians in Darfur
President al-Bashir has continuously used tactics of mass violence, not only in Darfur but in other regions of Sudan, including South Kordofan and the Blue Nile where over one million people have been forced to flee and are unable to return.
We are extremely concerned that the international community has been collaborating with al-Bashir instead of holding him accountable for his crimes. The former United States administrationworked to improve relations with Sudan; they even attempted to lift economic sanctions that have been in place since the 1990s. At the same time, the European Union recently joined Sudan in creating an initiative that bars refugees from entering Europe. By negotiating with Sudan, the United States and the European Union undermine the ICC. They are also ignoring the human rights norms and standards that they have promised to uphold, such as the Geneva Convention, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
The international community has repeatedly failed to impose consequences for President al-Bashir's atrocities and has allowed the government of Sudan to continue its crimes in Darfur and throughout Sudan with impunity, betraying the people of Sudan who face violence every day.
The failure to hold President al-Bashir accountable not only has devastating effects within Sudan but sends the wrong message to leaders like Syrian President Assad and others who are perpetrating extreme violence throughout the world. It supports their ability to continue killing their people with total impunity.
EIGHT YEARS OF IMPUNITY MUST END
July 12, 2017, marks the 8th anniversary of the second ICC arrest warrant against President al-Bashir. We wish to remind our supporters to join us and remind our leaders that genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity must not go unpunished. Member states of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), including the United States, must try to bring al-Bashir to justice. We recognize the fact that some ICC state parties demonstrate a strong commitment to justice by restricting al-Bashir's ability to travel. However, some countries have failed to uphold their legal obligation, allowing and aiding a genocidal president to defy justice. We must speak up and shame these countries and their leaders who are actively promoting impunity for the most serious crimes. China, for example, a UNSC member, welcomed President al-Bashir for a state visit in 2011. Other ICC members, such as Chad, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, and Nigeria, have all greeted and hosted the president. Among the countries that are not ICC members but have also welcomed al-Bashir are Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and South Sudan.
Therefore, we urge all members of the UNSC and the Rome Statute to stand for justice and make this year the final anniversary of President al-Bashir's impunity. We demand that member states of the United Nations, and especially members of the Security Council and the Rome Statute, abide by the obligations derived from the ICC arrest warrants for President al-Bashir. They must fulfill their legal obligations to arrest the President should he enter their territory by transferring him to The Hague for trial.
We urge Western countries to consider withholding military and economic aid from those countries that allow President al-Bashir to enter their territory without being arrested. The United Nations (UN) should also seriously consider adopting new mechanisms to enforce ICC arrest warrants on any areas administered by the UN, including its headquarters.
Because of the inaction of the international community, to date, President al-Bashir remains free, and the Sudanese Government continues to carry out vicious attacks against innocent civilians.
It is imperative that the US and the international community make clear to President al-Bashir and all perpetrators of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, that impunity will not be tolerated for another year.
* We urge the Trump administration to lead the UNSC members to enforce the ICC arrest warrant and bring al-Bashir to justice.
*We call upon members of the UNSC and the Rome Statute to stand for justice and accountability and work to bring al-Bashir to justice.
*We call upon the international community to do what is right for the people of Darfur by pursuing justice and bringing al-Bashir to The Hague.
*We call upon all members of the Rome Statute to transfer al-Bashir to The Hague to await trial should he enter their territory.
*We call upon the UNSC members to fulfill their legal obligations and support the ICC in arresting President al-Bashir.
We must stand up and demand accountability. Justice can only be achieved if we ordinary citizens demand it. Our leaders have failed in bringing al-Bashir to justice, and we must let it be known that we will not stand for it.
With gratitude, Niemat Ahmadi President and Founder www.darfurwomenaction.org
(c) 2017 Darfur Women Action Group