Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sudan's wanted president arrives at Arab summit

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Sudan's president, who is sought by an international court on charges of war crimes in Darfur, has arrived in Qatar to attend this week's Arab League summit.

President Omar al-Bashir was greeted warmly by Qatar's emir in a red-carpet welcome at Doha's airport on Sunday. He later had coffee with the emir and the head of the Arab League. The summit begins Monday.

The 22-nation Arab League has already said it would not enforce the International Criminal Court's arrest order for al-Bashir issued on March 4 and the Sudanese leader visited Eritrea, Egypt and Libya over the past week in a show of defiance.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Catch me if you can - Sudan's president

(Economist.com) — OMAR AL-BASHIR certainly gets around. In defiance of the arrest warrant for war crimes issued against him by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on March 4th, the Sudanese president has spent the past week jetting about northern Africa. He visited Eritrea, Egypt and Libya and was planning a trip to Ethiopia. Having called on some of his neighbours, he is making up his mind whether to attend a summit of the Arab League in Qatar on Monday March 30th.

Mr Bashir is scathing about the allegations of crimes against humanity and war crimes that are levelled against him. As he travelled, a spokesman for the Sudanese foreign ministry said that the president considers the warrant for his arrest “not worth the ink it is written with—and this is the message of this trip.”

For now the ICC is putting on a brave face. Speaking to al-Jazeera television the court’s chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, retorted that Mr Bashir’s trip is “a sign of desperation rather than a challenge to the ICC”. In fact the trip demonstrates the enormous difficulty faced by the court in getting those indicted into the dock.

Within Sudan Mr Bashir faces no threat of arrest. In Khartoum, the capital, people prefer to avoid talking in public about the indictment of the president. When pressed, a typical response is no more than a resigned shrug of the shoulders. A few dissidents explain that after two decades of military rule, it is time for Mr Bashir to go. Those more sympathetic to Mr Bashir, notably in government and business, suggest that the warrant is part of a broad American conspiracy to steal resources (mainly oil) from Sudan. For them, the president’s wanderings are welcome evidence of his thumbing his nose at the court. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

One million people at risk in Darfur, U.N. says


UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- More than one million people in Darfur are at risk of losing food, water and shelter in coming months, following the expulsion of international aid groups by Sudan's government, the United Nations' chief humanitarian coordinator said Tuesday.
The statement by coordinator John Holmes comes after a joint U.N.-Sudanese assessment of the situation.

The information was gathered from March 11-18 in hopes of stemming further troubles in Darfur after Sudan's government expelled 13 international relief organizations from the wartorn region.

The announcement came on the same day that President Omar al-Bashir, now an indicted war criminal, ignored the threat of arrest by traveling abroad to Eritrea. Also Tuesday, a Sudanese staffer working for a Canadian relief group was shot dead in Darfur.

A full report of the assessment will be released soon, according to the U.N., but an executive summary and recommendations were made available on Tuesday. Read more >>>>>>>>>>

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Expulsion of Aid Groups Puts Millions at Risk in Darfur

NYALA, Sudan — The sign outside the clinic in Otash camp reads “8-hour service daily.”

On Friday, Haider Ismael al-Amin lay in his mother’s arms, his 10-year-old body withered and weak from dehydration after a night of vomiting. But the door to the clinic was locked. After 30 minutes of waiting, his family gave up.

“The white people used to come every day,” said Hawa Hamal Mohammed, a relative of the boy. “Now the clinic is closed.”

The American aid group that operated the clinic, the International Rescue Committee, was one of more than a dozen aid groups expelled from Darfur this month by President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. He accused them of cooperating with the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which had issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of war crimes in the conflict that has consumed Darfur for years.

Since then, local health workers have been struggling, with almost no medicine, to keep the clinic open on a limited basis. Thousands of people in this sprawling camp depend on it for primary care.
But on Friday it was closed altogether. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Darfur, an ICC Arrest Warrant, and the Humanitarian Imperative

By Eric Reeves

EARLIER this month, Sudan’s National Islamic Front regime expelled 13
humanitarian organizations from Darfur and Northern Sudan. The expulsion
order followed immediately the announcement by the International
Criminal Court of an arrest warrant for Sudan’s President Omar
al-Bashir, charging him with crimes against humanity and war crimes. All
evidence points to a well-planned response by Khartoum to a judicial
decision that was universally expected.

The consequences of these expulsions are enormous. All expelled
organizations played key roles in humanitarian assistance; together they
constituted more than 50 percent of total aid capacity. Now 1.5 million
people no longer have access to primary healthcare, and a deadly
meningitis outbreak threatens tens of thousands. General food
distributions to more than 1 million people have been halted, including
to children and the malnourished. More than 1 million people will no
longer have access to clean water; shortages are already being reported,
and will spread quickly.

On Monday, the regime went further and announced its intention to
expel all international aid organizations within a year, despite being
unable to replace the work or resources of these organizations. This
amounts to genocide by other means. With many months to anticipate the
inevitable ICC announcement, Khartoum was determined to make the most of
the occasion, and elimination of an international humanitarian presence
in Darfur had long been a central ambition. The ICC announcement was not
so much the cause of the expulsions as a singularly opportune pretext. Read more >>>>>>>>.

Friday, March 20, 2009

SUDAN: Fallout scenarios

CAIRO, 20 March 2009 (IRIN) - The expulsion or closure of 16 aid groups in Sudan could worsen North-South relations, stall the Darfur peace process and deter future humanitarian action, analysts said.

The decision, and the 16 March announcement that Sudan would "nationalise" all humanitarian work within one year, have attracted condemnation from the highest levels of the UN and the US.

"The ICC [International Criminal Court] row in general, and the expulsion of the aid agencies in particular, certainly have the potential to destabilise North-South relations," says Wolfram Lacher, a Sudan analyst with the London-based Control Risks Group consultancy.

Though partners in a national unity government since a 2005 peace deal, the North's National Congress Party (NCP) and the South's Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) have been at odds over the border demarcation, distribution of oil revenue and timing of elections.

"The [expulsion] decisions were made by the NCP without consultation and against the will of the SPLM and that certainly puts an additional strain on relations between the two parties," Lacher said. "The relations between the two are very volatile, very fragile, and on these relations depends the big question whether the North and the South will go back to war in the next few years." Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>

Time for justice in Darfur

For the first time in history, an arrest warrant has been issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for an acting Head of State. On March 4, President Omar al Bashir of Sudan was charged with seven counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur.

Congratulations world. We finally acknowledged that a man who has orchestrated the genocide of more than 300,000 people and the displacement of nearly 2.7 million people should be punished. But this begs the question: who is going to arrest him? And more importantly, who will bring peace to Darfur? With no Jack Bauer-led ICC police force in existence, the responsibility falls to a motley crew called the African Union/United Nations Hybrid operation in Darfur (known as UNAMID). However, only with a more robust mandate, more troops and better co-ordination with aid organizations could they possibly become Darfur’s saviour.

Unfortunately, due to the overriding right to sovereignty, foreign forces can only enter Sudan with permission from the criminal in question or by military invasion endorsed by the UN Security Council. Considering Sudan has a 394,250 member army supported by 95,000 reserve troops, not to mention tanks, fighter jets and helicopters kindly supplied by China in exchange for oil and influence, I doubt anyone currently has the balls to try. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Where is the Arab outrage over Darfur?


In recent years, a media revolution has been taking place in the Arab world, so that the media now reflect to a great extent the atmosphere of the Arab street as well as the consensus in the Arab regimes. Criticism against the crimes committed by the Zionist occupier in Palestine receives substantial resonance, whereas other horrors that take place in the region get little coverage, especially when they are the work of local players and not of Europeans, Americans or Jews. The regional condemnation of Israel doesn't reflect global humanitarian standards but is reserved especially for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


The criticism against Israel, by its volume and severity, overshadows the coverage of the ongoing conflict in Darfur, for example, which in the past few years has already claimed a quarter of a million victims and created millions of refugees. The ethnic cleansing taking place in Darfur is far worse than any other regional crisis and cannot be compared to the Israeli-Palestinian political conflict, neither in volume nor in essence. Read more >>>>>>>>>>

Sudan's Bashir rallies Arab tribesmen in Darfur

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan's president rallied thousands of spear-waving Arab tribesmen in Darfur on Wednesday as he maintained his defiant stance against international moves to arrest him for war crimes.

President Omar Hassan al-Bashir vowed to confront Western "colonisers" at the gathering of Rizeigat tribespeople -- a group including clans that have produced some of the fiercest pro-government militias in the Darfur conflict.

Bashir's emotional speech came amid signs of a growing standoff between Sudan and the West following the International Criminal Court's decision to indict him for masterminding atrocities in Darfur.

The president sparked international outrage this month when he expelled 13 foreign aid groups, and shut down three local organisations, accusing them of assisting the court.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday stepped up pressure on Khartoum by saying Bashir would be responsible for every death caused by the resulting drop in humanitarian cover in the remote region.

The vast crowd of Rizeigat tribespeople, many riding horses and camels, swore a mass oath of allegiance to the president at the rally in the remote Sibdu valley area in south Darfur.

In a speech broadcast live on Sudan TV, Bashir told the gathering the West was trying to remove him from power, but he was ready to confront any attack.

"These knights on horseback now have spears, but tomorrow on the battlefield they will have machine guns," he said, referring to the crowd. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>

Clinton Says Bashir Will Be Held Responsible for Darfur Deaths

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir will be held responsible for any deaths among Darfur refugees caused by his decision to expel foreign aid groups from the country. Clinton says the Obama administration will soon name a special envoy for Sudan.

Clinton had harsh words for both the Sudanese leader and countries that have been protective of his government, saying that President Bashir will be held responsible for any deaths in Darfur that result from his decisions, while his international allies should make up for the assistance lost due to his expulsion order.

The secretary's remarks, at a news conference with the top officials of the Northern Ireland administration, were the strongest to date by a senior U.S. official over the Sudanese leader's decision last week to expel 13 international aid groups and subsequent order that all such groups cease activity in Sudan by the end of the year.

Clinton said Mr. Bashir's actions, an apparent response to the International Criminal Court arrest order against him for allegedly orchestrating Darfur war crimes, has created a "horrendous situation" that will cause untold misery and suffering in Darfur, especially in refugee camps. Read more >>>>>>>>>>

Friday, March 13, 2009

SLIDESHOW: Life inside Darfur displacement camp

Sudan has closed 13 foreign and three local aid groups saying they helped Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir over charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur.



Before the expulsions, the United Nations and aid groups were running the world's largest humanitarian operation in Darfur where, international experts say, almost six years of conflict have killed 200,000 people and displaced more than 2.7 million people from their homes.



U.N. agencies in Sudan have said it would be impossible to fill the gap left by the expelled organisations which made up around 40 percent of the humanitarian work force in Darfur.



Here is a look into life of displaced Sudanese people at Zam Zam IDP camp in Al Fasher, northern Darfur. Pictures taken by Zohra Bensemra/REUTERS



Scroll over photos for captions and more information.


For members to download photos please click here

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

250 suicide attacks vowed worldwide

250 suicide attacks vowed
A coalition of Sudanese Islamist militants have vowed to carry out 250 suicide attacks against countries that support the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC), a report said yesterday.
The Coalition of Jihad and Martyrdom Movements, made their threat in a statement released on Monday, the Akhir Lahzah newspaper reported.
“The (coalition) announces it will execute 250 jihadi martyrdom operations against the countries supporting the ICC’s decisions in their territories,” the newspaper quoted the statement as saying.
It also called for the death of ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo and Sudanese rebel leader Khalil Ibrahim, whom it labelled “a Zionist agent,” the newspaper reported.
The statement was reportedly signed by Mussa Hilal, a former leader of a pro-Khartoum militia in Darfur who became a government advisor, Read more >>>>>>>>

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Your comments on my Darfur column

Your comments on my Darfur column
By Nicholas Kristof
My Sunday column is about the aid workers being expelled from Darfur. Surprisingly, the United Nations reacted with rather more vigor than the Obama administration, especially at first. Ban Ki-moon issued a tough statement and has been busy calling up leaders in the region to try to get this reversed, and the heads of WFP and other agencies made strong statements as well. In contrast, the initial State Department comment was pathetic, although it was strengthened to a condemnation on Friday. Obama, Biden, Clinton were all tough on Darfur when they were in the Senate and when they were running for office, so let’s hope they aren’t backing down now that they are in office.

Let me also try to clarify something. There are still many aid workers who have not been expelled (World Vision is one of the biggest groups that remains in place), and of course they will try to pick up the slack. But they won’t be able to, except at the margins, for a couple of reasons. First they have their own missions, and everybody is understaffed. Second, Sudan security officials have closed the offices and confiscated the equipment of the expelled NGO’s, and you can’t do a food distribution if you don’t have lists of people who are supposed to get aid; a communications technician for a group that remains can’t shift to treating children with diarrhea, particularly if the clinic and medications have been confiscated. In some areas, the camp managers were expelled, so there is no longer anyone who even knows what is needed. Third, there is a wide variation in the regional impact of the expelled NGO’s. For example, almost all the aid groups in West Darfur were expelled, but a World Vision staff member in South Darfur can’t do anything to save lives in West Darfur. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>

Friday, March 06, 2009

Justice for Darfur

Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir has responded to the International Criminal Court's warrant for his arrest on charges of war crimes by retaliating against the civilians of Darfur. He ordered the expulsion of 13 international agencies that provide food, water and medical care to more than 4 million Darfuris, offering yet another reason to bring him to justice.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the expulsions would cause "irrevocable damage to humanitarian operations," provoking a new tragedy for people who already have suffered mass murder, rape and torture. At least 300,000 people have died in Darfur in the fighting between ethnic African rebels and Arab militiamen working for the Khartoum government, and 2.7 million have been driven out of their homes. Arguing that peace is more urgent than justice, some African and Arab leaders have criticized the ICC's decision to issue the warrant now, saying it will destabilize the region and jeopardize an already shaky deal to end the civil war between northern and southern Sudan. This is a false argument; impunity only begets more violence. Their criticism should be directed at Bashir, not at the court.


The U.N. Security Council asked the court to investigate crimes in Darfur in the first place, and has the power to defer the warrant. China, which is a member of the council and buys two-thirds of Sudan's oil exports, supports that idea. But it would be a mistake. Legal proceedings in the court should not be held up for political purposes. The international community should stand behind the court's action and press the government of Sudan to stop its collective punishment of Darfuris and fulfill its obligations under the 2005 peace agreement. The Sudanese government is obliged under international law to protect its citizens. World leaders should be pressing Bashir to allow relief in and to prevent further atrocities.Read more >>>>>>>>

Thursday, March 05, 2009

ICC issues a warrant of arrest for Omar Al Bashir, President of Sudan

ICC issues a warrant of arrest for Omar Al Bashir, President of Sudan
ICC-CPI-20090304-PR394 عربي


Situation: Darfur, Sudan


Today, Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for the arrest of Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir, President of Sudan, for war crimes and crimes against humanity. He is suspected of being criminally responsible, as an indirect (co-)perpetrator, for intentionally directing attacks against an important part of the civilian population of Darfur, Sudan, murdering, exterminating, raping, torturing and forcibly transferring large numbers of civilians, and pillaging their property. This is the first warrant of arrest ever issued for a sitting Head of State by the ICC.

Omar Al Bashir’s official capacity as a sitting Head of State does not exclude his criminal responsibility, nor does it grant him immunity against prosecution before the ICC, according to Pre-Trial Chamber I.

According to the Judges, the above-mentioned crimes were allegedly committed during a five year counter-insurgency campaign by the Government of Sudan against the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A), the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and other armed groups opposing the Government of Sudan in Darfur. It is alleged that this campaign started soon after the April 2003 attack on El Fasher airport as a result of a common plan agreed upon at the highest level of the Government of Sudan by Omar Al Bashir and other high-ranking Sudanese political and military leaders. It lasted at least until 14 July 2008, the date of the filing of the Prosecution’s Application for the warrant of arrest for Omar Al Bashir.

A core component of that campaign was the unlawful attack on that part of the civilian population of Darfur – belonging largely to the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa groups – perceived to be close to the organised armed groups opposing the Government of Sudan in Darfur. The said civilian population was to be unlawfully attacked by Government of Sudan forces, including the Sudanese Armed Forces and their allied Janjaweed Militia, the Sudanese Police Force, the National Intelligence and Security Service and the Humanitarian Aid Commission.

The Chamber found that Omar al Bashir, as the de jure and de facto President of Sudan and Commander-in-Chief of the Sudanese Armed Forces, is suspected of having coordinated the design and implementation of the counter-insurgency campaign. In the alternative, it also found that there are reasonable grounds to believe that he was in control of all branches of the “apparatus” of the State of Sudan and used such control to secure the implementation of the counter-insurgency campaign.

The counts

The warrant of arrest for Omar Al Bashir lists 7 counts on the basis of his individual criminal responsibility (article 25(3)(a)) including:

five counts of crimes against humanity: murder – article 7(1)(a); extermination – article 7(1)(b); forcible transfer – article 7(1)(d);
torture – article 7(1)(f); and rape – article 7(1)(g);
two counts of war crimes: intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities – article 8(2)(e)(i); and pillaging – article 8(2)(e)(v). Read more >>>>>>>>

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

VIDEO: Darfur genocide charges possible

The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor says there is strong evidence to charge Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

Bashir was accused in July 2008 by the ICC chief prosecutor of masterminding a campaign of genocide in Darfur. The International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague is set to announce whether it will issue an arrest warrant for Bashir, for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur. Penny Tweedie reports. Watch the video >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Darfur Enmeshed Within Sudan’s Broadening National Crisis (Part 3 of 3)

Eric Reeves
March 3, 2009

On the eve of the ICC announcement of a warrant for the arrest of Omar al-Bashir, charging him with atrocity crimes, security in Darfur reaches a nadir; humanitarians continue to evacuate and their operations to contract amidst growing evidence that UNAMID cannot protect them, or civilians.

KHARTOUM’S THREATS

This analysis appears immediately prior to a much anticipated announcement (scheduled for March 4, 2009) by the Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court. The Court will almost certainly issue an arrest warrant for National Islamic Front/National Congress Party President Omar al-Bashir---charging him with atrocity crimes in Darfur, including crimes against humanity. The consequences of this announcement are uncertain, though alarm on the part of al-Bashir and his regime has become increasingly conspicuous over the past several months. This alarm has been reflected in a wide range of threats against the international community, including supporters of the ICC, humanitarian workers in Darfur, the UN/African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur, as well as the linchpin north/south Comprehensive Peace Agreement (2005).

The most recent and revealing threat came from the head of the National Security and Intelligence Service, the powerful Saleh Abdalla Gosh. Gosh ominously threatened supporters of ICC actions with the resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism in Sudan; he declared that the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) would again become, in effect, the National Islamic Front (NIF)---the name for the current regime when it came to power by military coup in 1989, deposing an elected government, and deliberately aborting Sudan’s most promising chance for peace since Independence in 1956:Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Prosecutor: Strong case against Sudanese leader

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- The International Criminal Court announces Wednesday whether it will issue an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on charges of masterminding genocide in Darfur - a move that could provoke a violent backlash.

The chief prosecutor says dozens of witnesses will testify that al-Bashir controlled a genocidal campaign aimed at wiping out three ethnic African tribes in the vast nation south of Egypt.

"We have strong evidence against Mr. Bashir," prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo said Tuesday. "More than 30 witnesses will (testify) how he managed to control everything and we have strong evidence of his intention. I never present a case without strong evidence." Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>

Monday, March 02, 2009

ICC decides on the indictment of Al-Bashir

In relation to the pending announcement of the judges of the International Criminal Court in the indictment case of A-Bashir, president of the Sudan, Darfur Call and Darfur Union (both are Darfuri Grassroots organizations in The Netherlands) will organize a memorial for the victims of crimes committed in Darfur and a manifestation to support the decision of the judges of ICC. In addition a joint statement by several NOGs will be released.

Place: International Criminal Court, The Hague
Date: 04 March 2009
Time: 12:00 till 17:00

Darfuris in different European countries (UK, Belgium, France and Italy) are organizing similar events.

darfurcall@gmail.com

darfurunion@yahoo.com

Sunday, March 01, 2009

DJABAL REFUGEE CAMP, Chad

After Barack Obama was elected president in November, the Darfur refugees here were so thrilled that they erupted in spontaneous dancing and singing.

Soon afterward, the refugees renamed the School No. 1 in this dusty camp the Obama School. It’s a pathetic building of mud bricks with a tin roof, and the windows are holes in the walls, but it’s caulked with hope that President Obama may help end the long slaughter and instability in Sudan.

Soon we’ll see whether those hopes are justified. Next Wednesday, the International Criminal Court is expected to issue an arrest warrant for Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, for crimes against humanity in Darfur.

That would be historic — the first time the court has called for the arrest of a sitting head of state. It would be the clearest assertion that in the 21st century, mass murder is no longer a ruler’s prerogative. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>