United Nation’s Secretary-General Must Not Give Legitimacy to a Man Wanted for Genocide in Darfur
WASHINGTON, DC – The Secretary-General’s recent meeting with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is an affront to human rights norms.
It has come to our attention that the United Nation’s Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, met on Sunday with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in Addis Ababa on the sidelines of the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union.
We are incredibly shocked and outraged to see that the UN’s top leaders are ignoring the fact that al-Bashir is currently carrying out a genocide against his own people and is wanted by the UN-backed International Criminal Court on multiple counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in response to his actions in Darfur.
We understand the importance of the role of the UN Secretary-General and his participation in the African Union Summit, however since the indictment of al-Bashir the United Nations’ high-level officials maintained its non-essential contact policy, which limits contact with al-Bashir and other criminals wanted by the ICC.
A spokesperson from the office of the Secretary-General, as well as the Sudanese Foreign Minister, justified the meeting under the pretext of talking about peace within Sudan. However, it is morally imperative and more appropriate for the Secretary-General to send his special envoy. President al-Bashir has continually demeaned UN officials working within Sudan, including expelling them and humiliating them. President al-Bashir is being rewarded for this instead of being held accountable.
In addition to his millions of victims, the majority of whom remain displaced, President al-Bashir’s security as of this past week has arrested over 210 political activists and civil society leaders as the result of them peacefully expressing their rightful concern over the scarcity of food in Sudan. To date, these detainees remain in custody including the chairman of Darfur Bar Association whose health is severely deteriorating
We fear that this type of meeting will allow al-Bashir to use the good intention of the UN to oppress his people further.
We wish to remind the Secretary-General that al-Bashir is not an ordinary President. He is the man ordering the slaughter of innocent civilians, the burning of villages, and the authorization of rape as a weapon of war targeting women and girls. This is the man who is responsible for killing over 300,000 people in Darfur, which has been documented by his own institutions. To this date, over 3 million people remain in camps, and many have so for the past 14 years. It would be more appropriate if Mr. Guterres could pay a visit to those, who have been victims due to al-Bashir’s actions and have so for many years. The fate of these people resides in the hands of al-Bashir, their killer.
“If the international community has a short memory and tries to move on leaving the victims behind, we the victims and the survivors, have not forgotten, and will not hesitate to use our voices as a reminder for the world. We will continue to speak up and fight for justice and peace with dignity” said Niemat Ahmadi the President and Founder of Darfur Women Action Group, and a Darfuri survivor.
As of today, President al-Bashir still maintains control over 50, 000 of Arab Janjaweed Militias and the notorious Rapid Support Forces. They are still being authorized to commit the most vicious crimes against the indigenous African people in Darfur and have been fully integrated into the Sudan’s Armed Forces, taking control of Darfur
President al-Bashir endeavors for peace, particularly in Darfur, have been mainly characterized by killing men, women, and children, raping women, arresting, torturing and killing students and using military means to silence political opposition.
We finally wish to remind the Secretary-General that the victims of genocide in Darfur, whether they be in camps, in the diaspora, or remain prisoners to an abusive regime are standing witness to his actions.
This weekend’s meeting indicates that not only our highest institutions are failing the victims, but these institutions are making historical mistakes by normalizing genocide.
Mr. Guterres’ meeting with President al-Bashir of Sudan is not only an insult to victims, but it jeopardizes accountability measures for the world’s worst crime, genocide. This meeting undermines the legitimacy of the ICC as a UN-backed court.
We call on our supporters to speak up for the people of Darfur and Sudan at large and call on our leaders to remind them that they must not reward or normalize relations with a genocidal criminal.
The real peace is not an act of empowerment of the powerful, but it is the act of compassion that recognizes the plight and the dignity of the victims
We believe that peace will never be realized in Sudan unless justice is served, the rights of men and women are well respected, criminals who commit genocide are held liable for their actions, and the victims are treated with dignity and respect.