Nine Years of Impunity is Far Too Long.
We must bring President al-Bashir to justice.
Nine years ago today, on March 4th the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued the first arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan. The initial charges were for war crimes and crimes against humanity. However, on July 12, 2010, the ICC issued a second warrant this time inducing the added charge of genocide. The ICC cited Sudan’s genocidal campaign in Darfur, which has been ongoing for more than 14 years and continues unabated to this day.
For more than 14 years, the Sudanese Government’s military forces and their allied militia (the Janjaweed) have carried out systematic attacks against the Darfuri people based on their ethnicity. They have bombed villages, abducted civilians, looted private property, and used rape as a weapon of war against women and girls. As a result, over 4 million Darfuris have been affected, and over 3 million have been forced to leave their villages and continued to live makeshift camps within Sudan and in Chad. To date, over 3 million people remain in these camps, with limited access to humanitarian assistance, education, healthcare and food.
In addition to the tactics above, President al-Bashir has used chemical weapon against innocent civilians in Darfur according to a 2016 report by Amnesty International; the Sudanese Government dropped at least 32 chemical bombs on villages inhabited by civilians. As a result, between 200 and 250 civilians reportedly died of exposure to these agents, most of them children. Many others developed life-threatening symptoms, including severe gastrointestinal conditions involving bloody vomiting and diarrhea, blistering and rashes on the skin, loss of vision, and respiratory problems.
The situation remains urgent, as the government shows no signs of changing its genocidal policy or stopping their unrelenting attacks. Throughout 2017, there were near constant reports of rape and attacks. Also, the Sudanese Government’s targeting of Darfuri students studying at the University of Khartoum was highlighted when over 1000 students were forced to abandon university as a result of the mass and systematic abuse.
We write urge United Nations Security Council to fulfill its responsibility and support the International Criminal Court fulfill its obligation to hold al-Bashir accountable for his crimes. We are extremely concerned that during the last 14 years justice has been denied to the people of Darfur. Although the ICC has investigated and issued four arrest warrants for President al-Bashir and three members of his government, some states party to the Rome Statute have failed to meet their obligation to arrest al-Bashir. States party to the Rome Statute have not followed through with their duties to arrest and transfer President al-Bashir to The Hague for trial.
Instead of holding Bashir accountable, The international community has begun to reward president al-Bashir ass example. In 2016, the European Union initiated a collaboration between them and Sudan in an attempt to curb the flow of refugees entering Europe. This collaboration entails the EU provided funding for the Sudanese Government, which Sudan has used pay its Janjaweed Militias, to continue the genocide in Darfur. In October of 2017, the United States even went so far as to lift sanctions on Sudan. These sanctions were initially introduced during the Bush Administration as the result of Sudan’s continued genocidal campaign in Darfur as well as Sudan’s sponsoring of terrorist organizations in Northern Africa, in hopes of destabilizing the region. These sanctions were not supposed to be lifted unless Sudan was no longer sponsoring terrorists and brought lasting peace to Darfur. However, despite the fact that neither of these conditions was met, President Trump lifted sanctions on Sudan.
President al-Bashir has managed to escape accountability for his crimes for too long. We urge states party to the Rome Statute to act on their obligation to international justice and bring al-Bashir to The Hague to stand trial. Justice delayed is justice denied, and until the international community faces the reality of what is happening in Darfur, millions will continue to suffer at the hands of this man. We demand that the United Nations put in place a method for bringing international criminals to stand trial and face the reality of what they have done, and we urge all members of the UN to support such a mechanism. We cannot let a convicted genocidaire get away with slaughtering innocent people.
Nine years of impunity must end! President al-Bashir’s continued impunity is a threat to the values we hold in high esteem. When Syrian President Assad was said to have used chemical weapons against his own people, the international community lets it be known that they do not condone that behavior. Yet, when President al-Bashir was rumored to have done the same thing, the international community did nothing, not a single word of condemnation was uttered against the Sudanese Government. The world has been complacent in genocide for too long. Now is the time to speak up and demand action! We must let it be known that when we say “Never Again” we mean never again.
We must speak up, continue to expose al-Bashir’s crimes and hold our leaders accountable for ignoring it. We urge the United States Government not normalize relations with Sudan. Normalizing with a genocidaire will normalize genocide.