For Immediate Release
For Immediate Release
Eight years ago, today, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued the second arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan. The first of his arrest warrants charged him with war crimes and crimes against humanity. This second arrest warrant formally charged him three counts of genocide due to Sudan’s genocidal campaign in Darfur. Despite the ICC only formally charging al-Bashir in 2010, the genocide in Darfur has continued unabated for over 15 years.
For more than 15 years, the Sudanese Government’s military forces, and their allied militia (the Janjaweed) have carried out systematic attacks against the Darfuri people, solely based upon their ethnicity. Government forces have bombed villages, abducted civilians, looted private property and consistently utilized rape as a weapon of war, leaving women and girls the most affected. As a result, there are over 4 million Darfuris who have been affected, and well over 3 million who have been forced to leave their villages, either as refugees fleeing to neighboring countries or as internally displaced persons. There are still over 3 million people in these camps with limited access to humanitarian assistance, education, and food.
In addition to the ongoing devastating tactics above, the Government of Sudan has used chemical weapons against civilians in the Jebel Marra region of Darfur. In 2016, Amnesty International reported that the Sudanese Government dropped at least 32 chemical bombs on villages inhabited by civilians. Between 200 and 250 civilians, the majority of whom were children, died of exposure to these agents. Survivors of this attack developed life-threatening symptoms, including severe gastrointestinal condition causing them to vomit blood, have severe diarrhea, develop severe and painful blisters and rashes on the skin, lose their vision, and develop other respiratory problems.
But despite the unrelenting severity of the situation, the regime in Khartoum shows no signs of ending their attacks. Throughout the year there were near constant reports of rape and attacks. In addition to violence, the Sudanese Government began targeting Darfuris in other ways. In 2017 over 1000 Darfuri students were forced to abandon their schooling at the University of Khartoum, as a direct result of mass and systematic abuse.
We, therefore, call upon the international community, particularly the member states of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to fulfill their obligation to hold al-Bashir accountable for his crimes, instead of rewarding him.
We are extremely dismayed and disappointed that during the last 15 years, justice has been denied to the people of Darfur. The ICC has its job by investigating the situation and bringing charges against President al-Bashir, however, the member states of the UNSC and the states party to the Rome Statute have yet to fulfill their obligation, failing their obligation and betraying people of Darfur. While the ICC has no police in place to arrest criminals, states party to the Rome Statute are obligated to collaborate with the proceedings of the court and arrest and bring the indicted to stand trial in The Hague. Because of the inaction by these states and the UNSC member, President al-Bashir has yet to be transferred The Hague and continues to enjoy his impunity. President al-Bashir continues to travel freely around the world.
The international community has even gone so far as to improve relations with Sudan. IN 2016, the European Union initiated a collaboration between them and Sudan, in an attempt to curb the number of refugees entering Europe. This collaboration entails the EU to provide Sudan financial support, amounting to over $200 million, which has undoubtedly been used to purchase more weapons for the Janjaweed to continue their assault in Darfur.
Last October, 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 stopped sponsoring terrorist organizations and had ended their attacks in Darfur, bringing lasting peace to the region. However, despite the fact that neither of these conditions was met, The US government lifted sanctions on Sudan.
Instead of holding President al-Bashir and the rest of his regime accountable, the international community, including the United States has been actively rewarding criminals and undermining the pursuit of justice; letting the preparators of the world’s most heinous crimes get away with their actions.
The Government of Sudan has not only used direct attacks to kill civilians in Sudan, but it has also utilized starvation and the denial of medical treatment to further inflict people on civilians who have already been forced to endure unimaginable suffering at the hands of the government.
There have been multiple reports of cholera. But the Sudanese Government continues to deny its existence, deeming it nothing more than “watery-diarrhea”. The symptoms of this “watery diarrhea” however, seem to be consistent with the symptoms of cholera. The UN has yet to declare an outbreak of cholera, instead of bolstering the false label of “watery diarrhea.” By not declaring an epidemic the UN denies innocent people access to proper medical care, often at the expense of their lives.
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 UNSC put in place effective measures for bringing international criminals to stand trial and face the responsibility of what they have done, and we urge all members of the UNSC including the United States to support such a mechanism. We cannot let a convicted genocidaire get away with slaughtering innocent people.
15 years of impunity is too long for the suffering victims in Darfur and we must all speak up and urge our leaders to use both moral ground and the legal tools to end! President al-Bashir’s continued impunity. Impunity for these serious crimes is a threat to the values we hold, which our leaders continued to preach but act otherwise. In the face of genocide, we must not let our leaders turn the other way or use a double standard in using international measures.
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 including the US government did nothing, not a single word of condemnation was uttered against the Sudanese Government brutality. The world has been complacent in genocide for too long. Now is the time to speak up and demand action! We must continue to speak loudly and expose al-Bashir’s crimes and demand nothing less than accountability. We must match our words and actions and let it be known that when we say “Never Again” we mean never again and bring it into reality.
Genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity are the world worst crimes. The ICC presents the opportunity to get justice for these crimes and we should do everything possible to help them fulfill their mission. We believe pursuing justice is not only to punish the perpetrator of today’s crimes but to establish the base for accountability and prevent future crimes.
We at DWAG are committed to continuing to speak louder, make our voice heard and have made fighting genocide and demanding accountability our moral mandate. Will you join us?