Thursday, July 31, 2008

NEW REPORT CALLS ON STATES TO PROVIDE HELICOPTERS TO DARFUR PEACEKEEPERS

For Immediate Release
Thursday July 31, 2008

Contact: Brendan Cox
+ 44 7957 120 853
Brendan.cox@crisisaction.org

Allyn Brooks-LaSure
1-202-478-6174
press@savedarfur.org


Ahmed M. Mohamedain
+31 642330058
contact@darfurcall.org



NEW REPORT CALLS ON STATES TO PROVIDE HELICOPTERS TO DARFUR PEACEKEEPERS
On anniversary of Darfur mission, a new report targets, Czech Republic, India, Italy, Romania, Spain and Ukraine for needed peacekeeping helicopters

New York – Marking the one year anniversary of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1769 – which authorized deployment of the Darfur peacekeeping mission –a new report sets out for the first time which countries have the critically-lacking helicopters needed to protect civilians in Darfur.

The report, titled “Grounded: the International Community’s Betrayal of UNAMID” carries a foreword by the group of Elders who visited Sudan recently, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Lakhdar Brahimi, President Jimmy Carter and Graca Machel and is endorsed by more than thirty human rights groups, think tanks and NGO’s including the Cairo Institute for Human Rights, International Crisis Group, the Sudan Organisation Against Torture and the Save Darfur Coalition.

“Early this month peacekeepers were attacked in Darfur. They were outmanned and outgunned. Because no country has provided helicopters for the UN force there was no back-up and seven peacekeepers paid with their lives. On today’s anniversary of the mission it’s time the international community got serious about enabling peacekeepers to do their job of protecting civilians and handed over these helicopters,” said Amjad Atallah, a spokesperson for the coalition.

The report, written by aviation expert Thomas Withington is the first to look in detail at which countries have available resources that could be provided to the mission. It finds that:

 Of the 18 transport helicopters required by the force, not a single one has yet been offered; this compares to an estimated 350 such helicopters in use in Iraq.
 The report identifies more than 20 countries with surplus aircraft that could be made available for the mission.
 The six countries best placed to provide transport helicopters, Italy, Ukraine, India, Spain, Romania and the Czech Republic, between them have an estimated 71 helicopters available, four times the requirement.
 NATO member states alone could jointly provide 104 such helicopters, almost six times the requirement.

The report’s conclusions are based on extensive research of helicopter capacity and investigations into the number of helicopters already deployed in theatre. The report assumes a three helicopter rotation i.e. for every one helicopter deployed, two others need to be available on rotation.

In the foreword to the report, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Lakhdar Brahimi, President Jimmy Carter and Graca Machel state,
“This report sets out for the first time which states have the necessary helicopters and estimates how many are available for deployment to Darfur. It identifies a number of countries -- including the Czech Republic, India, Italy, Romania, Spain and Ukraine -- that have large numbers of helicopters that meet the required specifications and are not on mission or mission rotation elsewhere. Many of these helicopters are gathering dust in hangars or flying in air shows when they could be saving lives in Darfur.”

The report notes that the resourcing issue is much deeper than simply an issue of helicopters and that many other basic supplies, from boots to ration packs, are also yet to be provided. It also makes clear that UNAMID is only part of the solution to the situation in Darfur and that a peace process is essential to a long term solution.

Actor and Darfur activist George Clooney, who has been appointed by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon as a “UN Peace of Messenger” for his work on Darfur said,
“Many governments have offered expressions of concern, but few have offered the most basic tools necessary to keep civilians safe and for peacekeepers to do their job. To ensure the success of UNAMID and the safety of peacekeepers, we do not need more rhetoric, we need resources. It is time for governments to put their helicopters where their mouths are.”

The report recommends:
 Countries with the ability to provide these helicopters must do so immediately.
 Security Council members – especially the P5 - must engage in concerted diplomacy to make sure this happens.
 Any upgrades needed should be resourced by the member state, the UN or third countries.
 Those countries without helicopters should redouble their efforts to assist the UN to fill the other gaps in resources for the force.
 Pressure should be maintained on the Government of Sudan to stop obstructing the full deployment of UNAMID.

Events are expected in key capitals to mark the anniversary. In New York City activists planned to bring a helicopter to the United Nations headquarters, underscoring the need for leading nations to supply the critically-lacking helicopters to the UNAMID peacekeeping mission. Groups will also highlight a petition with more than 50,000 signatures – urging the permanent five members of the U.N. Security Council to fulfill their obligations and commitments to the Darfuri people.

Editors Notes:


 The full text of the report is available here: www.globefordarfur.org

 On July 31, 2007, the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1769, which authorized a peacekeeping force 26,000 strong to protect the Darfuri people. The mission – the largest authorized force in U.N. history – has only deployed 9,000 to the region, many of which were held over from the African Union force that preceded it. The resolution's passage was marked by much self-congratulation, but the U.N. Security Council has failed to match words with deeds that would ensure the swift, full and effective deployment of the UNAMID mission.

 Organizations endorsing the report include: Aegis Trust , Americans Against Darfur Genocide, The Arab Program for Human Rights Activists (APHRA), ARI, The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, The Centre for Army Conversion and Disarmament Studies, Collectif Urgence Darfour, Darfur Action Group of South Carolina, Darfur Australia Network, Darfur Call, Darfur Hilfe, Darfur Relief and Documentation Centre, Darfur Union, ENOUGH, European Union of Jewish Student, FEMNET, Genocide Alert, Genocide Intervention Network, The Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA), International Crisis Group, International Refugee Rights Initiative, Italians for Darfur, Japanese for Darfur, NAS International, Dream for Darfur, Physicians for Human Rights, San Francisco Bay Area Darfur Coalition, Save Darfur Coalition, Save Darfur Canada, Society for Threatened People, Sudan Advocacy Action Forum, Sudan Organization Against Torture (SOAT), STAND Canada, Team Darfur, United Nations Association (UNA), Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, Waging Peace.

###

Monday, July 28, 2008

Former Sudanese army commander reveals 'war crimes' in Darfur

By: Channel 4 News

http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid1184614595/bctid1667996388



A former Sudanese army commander tells More4 News of the part he played in war crimes in Darfur.

So, what is the evidence of Sudanese government involvement in arming and directing the Janjaweed militias?

One man with inside knowledge of what really happened is Arbab Idries. He's a former Sudanese army commander. And he's told More4 News of the part he played in war crimes in Darfur.

And that shocking testimony directly implicates the government in Khartoum.

This exclusive report contains distressing images and offensive language. Read more >>>>>>

Justice is the key to peace in Darfur

By James C. O'Brien

Although some fear that prosecuting Sudan's president could halt progress in the region, it is the only way to secure lasting stability.
By James C. O'Brien

Discuss Article The arrest of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic last week demonstrates that justice is possible. Far from being the political leader he styled himself as, Karadzic, who has been indicted on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, is now just a criminal.

Karadzic's arrest makes the case for the pursuit of justice when it comes to Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, International Criminal Court chief prosecutor, recently accused Bashir of committing genocide and other crimes in Darfur. In the next few months, the court's judges are likely to issue an international arrest warrant for him. Some worry that this will interfere with peace talks and humanitarian operations inside Sudan -- but the fact is that past experience proves that the pursuit of justice can help bring about peace. Read more >>>>>>>>

Monday, July 21, 2008

Arrest al-Bashir is a path to secure peace in Darfur

By ZACHARY OCHIENG
Special Correspondent

Last week’s request for a warrant of arrest for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Luis Moreno-Ocampo, continues to draw mixed reactions.

However, a report by the think tank ENOUGH Project argues that the call to arrest al-Bashir is not only based on sound evidence, but that it can be a step forward in the path to secure peace in Darfur.

The report cites the cases of Slobodan Milosevic and Charles Taylor, as past indictments of war criminals that brought the desired results.

“The status quo in Sudan is one of the deadliest in the world. Until there is a consequence for the commission of genocide, it will continue. This action introduces a cost, finally, into the equation,” says John Mr Prendergast, the co-chair of Enough. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>

UN cannot interfere with ICC ruling on Darfur

UN cannot interfere with ICC ruling on Darfur: spokeswoman

The United Nations cannot interfere with the decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor to seek the arrest of Sudan's president for alleged genocide in Darfur, spokeswoman Michele Montas said Monday.

"The position of the Secretary General is very clear," Montas told a press briefing. "The ICC is an independent body. The secretariat of the United Nations cannot interfere nor be involved in anything that involve the ICC."

She made the remarks after African Union (AU) leaders on Monday asked the UN Security Council to delay any decision by the ICC on whether to indict Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir on genocide and war crimes charges.

Citing the need to "ensure that the ongoing peace process (in Darfur) is not jeopardized," Nigerian Foreign Minister Ojo Maduekwe told reporters that the AU was seeking "a delay within the rules of the Rome Statute (which created the ICC ten years ago). Read more >>>>>>>

Frost Over the World - President Omar al-Bashir - 20 June 08

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir tells Sir David that 90 per cent of the people in the region are leading a normal life. He describes the ICC as a terrorist organisation and says the United States lacks the moral authority to speak about events in Darfur.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Turning up the heat in Darfur

The prosecutor for the international criminal court (ICC), following a three-year investigation, has charged the president of the Sudanese regime, Omar al-Bashir, with genocide and crimes against humanity. Whatever the implications of this unprecedented action for the future of Khartoum's National Islamic Front, there are good reasons to believe that the ICC has struck a broader blow against the complacent conviction, prevailing in too many countries, of sovereign immunity from atrocity crimes.

But the issue of the day seems not to be these extraordinary criminal charges themselves, but how Khartoum's génocidaire-in-chief will respond to the ICC announcement. Yet the issue has been badly framed with its focus so exclusively on Bashir. He heads a security cabal that has remained largely unchanged since it came to power by military coup in June 1989, deposing an elected government and never itself holding meaningful elections. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Al Bashir who committed genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity

ICC Prosecutor Indicts high ranking official

For Immediate Release. The Hague, 14th July 2008


ICC Prosecutor Indicts high ranking official


Since 2003, the people of Darfur have undergone terrible genocide coordinated by the government of Sudan. A savage scorched-earth campaign of rape, killing, pillaging and burning of villages was carried out with total impunity. More than 300,000 innocent civilians were killed and at least 4 million civilians in Darfur were affected by the armed conflict including internally displace persons (IDPs) and refuges. As a result of the ongoing campaign more than 4,000 villages were totally destroyed. UN Security Council Resolution 1593 (2005) adopted on March 31st, 2005, referred the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter because it constitutes a threat to international peace and security.

The government of Sudan played a detrimental role in impeding the efforts of African Union and United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) as well as those of the international humanitarian relief organizations to protect and aid the civilian victims of the conflict in Darfur. GoS has even pursued a policy of targeting UNAMID force and relief workers. On July 8th 2008, seven UNAMID soldiers were killed in Darfur by unknown assailants. The question is who is responsible to hamper UNAMID force from executing their mandate and protect civilians in need in Darfur?

One of the main demands of the people of Darfur especially the victims of the armed conflict in Darfur is that justice takes its course. Justice for the people of Darfur should go hand in hand with negotiations for peaceful settlement. It is both moral and legal obligation in the part of the international community that the perpetrators of the genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur be held accountable.

We, the undersigned Darfur civil society organizations, urge the international press and media to play their pivotal role in raising awareness about the genocide in Darfur. They should help build the necessary momentum in support of the ICC’s work on Darfur and the Prosecutor’s concern about the gross crimes committed in our beleaguered region. We call upon the international press to increase efforts in persuading the international community to keep the situation in Darfur at the top of their agenda. Equally the media should make all efforts to ensure that the ICC conduct its work successfully and that all perpetrator, who ordered, supported or orchestrated the genocide in Darfur in particular those individuals at the highest government ranks, should be held to accountable and punished.

1) Darfur Call – The Netherlands
2) Darfur Relief and Documentation Centre - Switzerland
3) Darfur Peace and Justice - Belgium
4) Darfur Peace and Development – USA
5) Darfur Centre for Human rights and Development - UK

ICC Prosecutor Indicts Marshal El Bashier

For Immediate Release. Geneva, 14th July 2008

ICC Prosecutor Indicts Marshal El Bashier

Today, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Mr. Luis Moreno Ocampo presented evidence to the ICC’s Judges against Marshal Omer El Bashier, President of Sudan on charges of gde, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur since 2003. Mr. Ocampo briefed members of the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber on the role played by Omer El Bashier, the suspected war criminals and asked the ICC to issue warrants for his arrest. This is the second time in history an incumbent Head of State has been indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

We fully support Mr. Ocampo’s timely decision. It has come at a time of increased violence, banditry and insecurity which caused more destruction of lives and livelihoods, forced displacement as well as shrinking humanitarian assistance to the needy people in Darfur. It has come at a time of total inability of African Union/United Nations (AU/UN) military personnel to protect civilian victims of the armed conflict in Darfur from genocidal acts including war crimes and crimes against humanity. Marshal El Bashier and his government have put up a range of obstructions to make it impossible for the AU/UN military force to deploy in Darfur. They have also introduced aggressive administrative measures and created hostile environment to allow humanitarian organizations and aid workers to operate effectively in Darfur. Mr. Ocampo’s decision comes at a time when victims of the conflict in Darfur are losing confidence in the international community’s resolve to do justice to them.

We wish to remind that the decision to refer the situation in Darfur to the ICC was done by means of UN Security Council resolution 1593(2005) of 31st March 2005. This resolution was adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter and is mandatory in nature. As such the ICC action on Darfur is a mechanism in fulfilment of the provisions of resolution 1593(2005). We wish to remind all UN member states to fully cooperate with the ICC and meet their obligations to cooperate in implementing mandatory UN resolutions.

We also wish to remind that all persons are equal before international criminal law. Article 27 of the Rome Statute of the ICC on Irrelevance of Official Capacity stated that: “This Statute shall apply equally to all persons without any distinction based on official capacity. In particular, official capacity as a Head of State or Government, a member of a Government or parliament, an elected representative or a government official shall in no case exempt a person from criminal responsibility under this Statute, nor shall it, in and of itself, constitute a ground for reduction of sentence.”

1) Darfur Call – The Hague, The Netherlands +31 642330058
2) Darfur Relief and Documentation Centre – Geneva, Switzerland +41 7973797.49
3) Darfur Peace and Justice – Brussels, Belgium +32 48569155
4) Darfur Peace and Development – Washington, USA +1 2023615589
5) Darfur Centre for Human rights and Development – London, UK+44 7850380180
6) Darfur Union in UK & Ireland – London, UK +44 7930337583

Darfuri activists: justice for victims in Darfur cannot wait

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 14 July 2008
Darfuri activists: justice for victims in Darfur cannot wait

Brussels – Reacting to the ICC Prosecutor’s announcement that he has today requested an arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir, president of Sudan, on charges of genocide, leaders of the Darfuri community in Europe expressed their full support for Ocampo’s work and stressed the importance of the international community’s pursuit of justice for the victims of crimes against humanity in Darfur.
“Our people in Darfur have suffered five years of violence, and no one has been held to account for the terrible crimes committed. We look to the ICC and to the international community to provide justice. The Prosecutor’s announcement today gives us hope that the innocent victims of the conflict in Darfur will not be forgotten, that someday there will be justice for them and dignity for the survivors,” said Ahmed M. Mohamedain, leader of Darfur Call, a Darfuri civil society group based in The Hague.
Darfuri activists have long stressed the importance of pursuing justice while continuing to seek a political resolution to the conflict in Darfur. They have emphasized that the pursuit of justice, far from being incompatible with the peace process, is an important element in moving parties to the conflict away from warfighting in Darfur and towards other solutions.
“Right now, there is no commitment to peace process because everyone is still fighting and committing violent acts, which they know they can do with impunity. If the international community demonstrates that it is serious about justice for the victims in Darfur, it can end this impunity, showing all sides that violence will not be accepted as a solution to Darfur, and showing Darfuri civilians that the world is committed to a fair and just resolution of the conflict,” said Tajeldin A. Adam, leader of the Association of Darfur People in Belgium.
The activists have called especially on the EU to continue to show strong support for the Prosecutor’s work and to insist on Sudanese compliance with the ICC, noting the recent statements from both the Council of Foreign Ministers as well as the European Council (heads of state of the 27 member states) which made clear that the EU will consider further measures against the government of Sudan in the event of continued non-compliance with the ICC.
Abdelbagi Jibril, Executive Director of the Darfur Relief and Documentation Centre, noted: “Those responsible for violence in Darfur are very worried about the ICC. When the case was first referred by the Security Council, there was very little violence in Darfur for nearly six months. This shows that pursuing justice can have an impact on the ground. Khartoum is paying close attention to what the international community says and does, and the EU must remain firm and keep the pressure on.”
For further information contact:

Darfur Relief and Documentation Centre (Geneva)
Abdelbagi Jibril: +41 22 747 00 89

Darfur Call (The Hague)
Ahmed M. Mohamedain: +31 642 330 058

Association of Darfur People in Belgium (Brussels)
Tajeldin A. Adam: +32 472 372 137

Darfur Peace And Justice (Brussels)
Mohammadain Ishag: +32 485 698 155

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

ICC Prosecutor presents case against Sudanese President, Hassan Ahmad AL BASHIR, for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur.

Situation: Darfur, Sudan

ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has presented evidence today showing that Sudanese President, Omar Hassan Ahmad AL BASHIR committed the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur.

Three years after the Security Council requested him to investigate in Darfur, and based on the evidence collected, the Prosecutor has concluded there are reasonable grounds to believe that Omar Hassan Ahmad AL BASHIR bears criminal responsibility in relation to 10 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The Prosecution evidence shows that Al Bashir masterminded and implemented a plan to destroy in substantial part the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa groups, on account of their ethnicity. Members of the three groups, historically influential in Darfur, were challenging the marginalization of the province; they engaged in a rebellion. AL BASHIR failed to defeat the armed movements, so he went after the people. “His motives were largely political. His alibi was a ‘counterinsurgency.’ His intent was genocide. ” The Prosecutor said.

For over 5 years, armed forces and the Militia/Janjaweed, on AL BASHIR orders, have attacked and destroyed villages. They then pursued the survivors in the desert. Those who reached the camps for the displaced people were subjected to conditions calculated to bring about their destruction. AL BASHIR obstructs international assistance. His forces surround the camps. One victim said: “When we see them, we run. Some of us succeed in getting away, and some are caught and taken to be raped -- gang-raped. Maybe around 20 men rape one woman. […] These things are normal for us here in Darfur. These things happen all the time. I have seen rapes too. It does not matter who sees them raping the women -- they don't care. They rape girls in front of their mothers and fathers”.

For over 5 years, millions of civilians have been uprooted from lands they occupied for centuries, all their means of survival destroyed, their land spoliated and inhabited by new settlers. ‘In the camps AL BASHIR’s forces kill the men and rape the women. He wants to end the history of the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa people’ said the Prosecutor. ‘I don’t have the luxury to look away. I have evidence’. Read more >>>>>>>>>>

Monday, July 14, 2008

ICC Prosecutor to present second case to the Judges in the Darfur situation on 14 July

Darfur, Sudan

On Monday 14 July, Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo will submit to the Judges of Pre-Trial Chamber I his evidence on crimes committed in the whole of Darfur over the last five years. The filing will be public and a summary there of will be made available. After submitting the filing to the Judges the Prosecutor will brief the press together with Deputy Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda.

Please note the following schedule of press events:

13:00 - Press Conference, ICC Media Centre. The Prosecutor and the Deputy Prosecutor will summarise the evidence, the crimes and name individual(s) charged.

**All hours noted refer to local time in The Hague.

Practical Information for the Media

Media Accreditation
All those wishing to attend the press conference are kindly requested to confirm attendance via email to PublicAffairs.Unit@icc-cpi.int by Friday, 11 July at 17h00. Read more >>>>

China 'fuelling war in Darfur'

China is providing Sudan with military assistance in the troubled Darfur region, A BBC Panorama investigation suggests.
The UN has imposed an arms embargo against Sudan which requires nations like China to stop their military equipment from going to Darfur. Hilary Andersson reports from Darfur.

Panorama: China's Secret War will be on BBC One at 2030 BST on Monday 14 July 2008.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Pursuing Peace and Justice in Darfur: The Role of the ICC

Those misrepresenting the efforts of the International Criminal Court will inevitably encourage Khartoum; urging expediency over justice upon the international community will similarly embolden the regime’s g√©nocidaires

Eric Reeves
June 29, 2008

Are peace and justice incompatible pursuits in responding to the Darfur crisis? Do efforts by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute atrocity crimes in Darfur deserve robust international support or exhortations of caution? Is justice fundamental to a resolution of the crisis? or is it a luxury too costly, too threatening to the chances for peace? Would senior officials in the Khartoum regime be more or less likely to engage in meaningful peace talks if they faced forceful and compellingly researched indictments from the ICC? Would international support for the Court and for justice lead Khartoum to retaliate against civilians and humanitarians? Answers to these questions depend upon which of Darfur’s historical realities are accepted, which are denied or ignored.

Many insist the most basic truth of Darfur is that senior members of the National Islamic Front (National Congress Party) are responsible for engineering the genocidal destruction and displacement most violently in evidence in 2003-2004, and that the regime remains deeply complicit---and where necessary actively engaged---in sustaining the human catastrophe in Darfur. Those so convinced, including this writer, will find grossly expedient the efforts to trade out the claims of justice for those of a peace that is nowhere in sight. Read more >>>>>>>>>

Plenty and penury in Darfur

By Louis Charbonneau

ZAM ZAM CAMP, Sudan (Reuters) - Markets stocked with fresh fruit and vegetables. Shiny new gas stations. Freshly built houses. Smooth paved roads. A pizzeria.

These are not images one would normally associate with Sudan's western Darfur region, where hundreds of thousands of people are estimated to have died in five years of conflict. But they are all found in El Fasher, capital of North Darfur state.

El Fasher is home to thousands of civilian and military personnel working for the United Nations-African Union joint peacekeeping mission (UNAMID), and while food here is plentiful, prices are inflated after poor harvests.

The United Nations says a "perfect storm" of growing violence, overcrowding in refugee camps and bad harvests could cause a food crisis in Darfur, home to the world's largest humanitarian operation.

Just 10 km from El Fasher's colourful market stalls, thousands of displaced Darfuris struggle to survive in the Zam Zam camp, battling disease, bandits and growing hunger.

These people used to get over 2,000 calories a day. Now they survive on 1,400 calories as aid agencies cut rations because of attacks on food convoys. Some of the children have bloated bellies, a possible sign of malnutrition.

Eric Reeves, a Darfur activist and professor of literature at Smith College in Massachusetts who has studied Sudan for nearly a decade, warns that ration cuts may cause "significant human starvation in the coming months." Read more >>>>>>>>>>>