The Darfur Consortium

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Darfur in the News

U.S. and European media

April 9, 2023

Reuters: Rights groups urge Sudan to let Darfur aid back in. More than a month after Sudan shut down 13 foreign aid groups in Darfur, Khartoum has done nothing to fill the relief gaps, leaving 4.7 million people at risk, rights groups said on Wednesday. Headed by international human rights watchdog Amnesty, 19 mostly African rights organisations urged Sudan to let back in aid agencies expelled after a Hague court indicted Sudan's president for war crimes. "We are concerned that to date, more than a month after the decision to expel the organisations, the government of Sudan has not put in place measures to ensure that civilians will not die from thirst, hunger and disease," Mariam Kahiga, Amnesty International's Kenya coordinator, told a news conference.

The following letter by Elise Keppler appeared in today's New York Times. 

Hold the Line on Bashir

President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan has crisscrossed the Arab and African world recently in a bald-faced attempt to show strength after the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

He chose Egypt, Eritrea and Libya as his first ports of call, then made his way to Qatar for the Arab League summit. These countries are among the minority of the world's nations that have not joined the International Criminal Court. Unlike the close to 110 that have joined, these governments have no legal obligation to arrest him on the court's behalf. They would do well to remember, though, that the Security Council has expressly urged even states that are not part of the court to cooperate.

These countries and others that might open their doors Bashir might want to reconsider. Not only is he an accused war criminal, but in retaliation for the warrant, his government threatened the lives of Sudan's most vulnerable.

Within hours after the I.C.C. announced its warrant, 13 key relief organizations that were supplying food and water to 1.1 million people and medical care to 1.5 million were ousted from Sudan. Bashir is not someone who should be welcomed, but someone who should be held to account.

We can expect that someday he will face trial. When former presidents Charles Taylor of Liberia and Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia were indicted for war crimes while sitting as heads of states, nobody expected to see them in court. But that is what happened. International justice has increasingly shown that no one is above the law.

The U.N. Security Council could suspend his case, but suspension will only encourage further abuses.

The priority for both the Arab League and the African Union should be to press Sudan to readmit the aid groups. This would help ensure that the victims of atrocities in Darfur are not further victimized. This would also make a far better headline than Bashir boarding yet another plane.

Elise Keppler, New York Senior counsel with the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch

The following op-ed by Joel Brinkley appeared in today's Modesto Bee.

A killer gets royal welcome in Arab countries

The Arab world has a new jet-set traveler, hopping from place to place on his presidential plane - five nations in just the last week. But this itinerant potentate is different from most. He's an indicted war criminal who is subject to immediate arrest anyplace he lands.

But so far he is still free man. In fact his hosts, in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Libya, Egypt and Eritrea have laid down red carpets and greeted him with kisses on both cheeks. This traveler is none other than Omar al-Bashir, president of Sudan. A man, the International Criminal Court says, who has the blood of 300,000 Darfurians on his hands. The court issued an arrest warrant on March 4 - executable, in theory, anyplace in the world.

Most people across of the globe have reason to reprove the leaders of the Arab world. For many, it's their role in founding OPEC, the cartel of oil-producing states that tries to fix the prices everyone pays at the gas pump so that Arab dictators can further enrich themselves. Many others view it as the seat of Islamic terrorism. The list could go on - and, to be fair, Arab leaders have justifiable grievances of their own.
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But I would argue that their performance last week - welcoming a man guilty of genocide, excusing and explaining away his crimes, blaming the West for his deviltry, embracing one of the world's most loathsome individuals - should hold Arab leaders up for contempt by everyone.

For six years, Bashir has systematically manipulated Western leaders who have come to talk to him about the continuing death and destruction in Darfur - telling each president and foreign minister who climbed the steps to his lair that he was trying to end the violence. In each and every case, he was lying.

One sterling example came four years ago, when then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stopped by Khartoum to ask Bashir, once again, to stop the killing. The morning she arrived came the published report that Bashir was still paying the militiamen who were responsible for the carnage in Darfur. So when Rice's party arrived at Bashir's office, his guards beat up members of her staff and the reporters accompanying her. When everyone finally made it inside, bruised and aghast, a TV reporter asked Bashir about that published report. Two of his guards dragged her out of the room, kicking and screaming. Bashir sat quietly and watched.

I saw this. I was there. Does this man sound like someone worthy of respect?

Well, last week the emir of Qatar laid down a red carpet for Bashir, who was coming to Doha for an Arab summit - his first venture out of Sudan since the court issued its arrest warrant. After Bashir stepped from his plane, the emir kissed him on the cheek. And when he arrived at the summit meeting, his colleagues embraced him. Amr Moussa, secretary-general of the Arab League, told the accused that the league's member states would "continue our efforts to halt the implementation of the warrant."

Then came exclamations of the Arab world's old chestnut, their doctrine of moral equivalency. How could the West indict Bashir and do nothing about Israel's "war crimes" in the West Bank and Gaza?

Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, put it this way: "We can discuss" Bashir's indictment "after they bring those who committed the atrocities and massacres in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq to the court, implicated for the same crimes."

But then, turn that old trope on its head, and its asks a different question: How can these Arab leaders complain that no one is prosecuting Israel for its actions in Gaza - while explaining away the prosecution of one of their own? Undeterred by that embarrassing bit of hypocrisy, the summiteers issued a statement at the meeting's end declaring "our solidarity with Sudan and our rejection of the International Criminal Court's measure against his excellency."

Legally, the states Bashir has visited thus far are not required to arrest him; they are not members of the court. And, I suppose, if these Bashir supporters work at it, perhaps they can convince themselves that no positive public proof exists linking Bashir to the slaughter in Darfur. (Presumably that evidence would come out in court.)

But Bashir did put his name, in bold letters, on his latest lethal act - evicting 16 international aid agencies from Darfur, where they had been sustaining more than 2 million refugees. Already some refugees are dying. How do you explain that away?

Joel Brinkley is a former Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent for The New York Times and now a professor of journalism at Stanford University.  

The Darfur Daily News is a service of the Save Darfur Coalition. To subscribe to the Daily News, please email [email protected]. For media inquiries, please contact Ashley Roberts at (202) 478-6181, or [email protected].



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