Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Five members of congress arrested at Darfur protest

Reporters had been forewarned by the Save Darfur Coalition that Monday’s protest, featuring a handful of House Democrats, would involve “civil disobedience.”

And sure enough, Reps. John Lewis (D-Ga.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Donna Edwards (D-Md.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) wandered past the official police line at the Sudanese Embassy in Washington on Monday morning — and were gently cuffed and carted away by the Secret Service, which is responsible for protecting foreign dignitaries.

The five — who were protesting deteriorating human rights conditions in Sudan — were held on misdemeanor trespassing charges and released in time for their afternoon votes, a Woolsey representative said.

Lewis — a legendary civil rights leader who was severely beaten by racists in the early 1960s in Alabama — issued a brief statement prior to his arrest:

“I don’t understand how the world can just stand by and watch the slaughter of innocent victims in Darfur,” he said. “Haven’t we learned the hard lessons of Rwanda and Bosnia, of the Holocaust?” Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Darfur Week to Raise Genocide Awareness

Gustavus Adolphus College will host a series of events and activities during the week of Monday, April 20 to raise awareness of genocide. The week is titled “Darfur Week: Protect, Prevent, Prosecute, Remember.”

The week’s scheduled events will begin Monday, April 20 with Camp Darfur, a traveling refugee camp that highlights the history and consequences of genocide in the 20th and 21st centuries. The exhibit will be set up on Eckman Mall outside of the College’s C. Charles Jackson Campus Center.

Gabriel Stauring and Katie-Jay Scott, directors of Camp Darfur and the grassroots organization Stop Genocide Now, will speak throughout the day. Both Stauring and Scott have visited and worked at refugee camps on the border of Sudan and Chad. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Darfur survivors stage protest

Hundreds of survivors of the ongoing crisis in Darfur gathered outside Downing Street to plea for more support in the strife-torn region.

Protesters chanted "You don't forget" in a bid to remind political leaders that millions were still facing disease, starvation and conflict.

Fatima Abdelshafi, 30, who sought asylum in the UK two years ago, said the rescue job was only half done. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Nine men executed in Sudan following unfair trial

The Sudanese government executed nine people who may have been innocent on Monday. The nine men were convicted of murder, but their confessions were extracted under torture.

Amnesty International has called on the Sudanese authorities to abolish the death penalty immediately. The organization opposes the death penalty unconditionally in all situations as a violation of the right to life and the ultimate cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.

"This case is a tragic example of what happens when an irreversible punishment such as the death penalty is applied," said Tawanda Hondora, Deputy Director of the Amnesty International's Africa Programme. "The execution of the nine men is outrageous. They were arbitrarily arrested, tortured and then subjected to an unfair trial."

The nine men executed were Ishaq Mohammed Sanousi (thought to have been 71 years old), Abdel Hay Omar, Mustafa Adam, Mohammed Birgid,Hassan Adam Fadel, Adam Ibrahim, Jamaleddin Isa, Abdel Magid Ali Abdel Magid and Sabir Hassan. They were found guilty of the murder of newspaper editor Mohamed Taha in September 2006.

All those executed on Monday had said that they had been tortured to confess to the murder and been forced to sign confessions, which were later produced in court. All 10 people retracted their confessions in court, but the Appeal Court accepted the confessions as evidence against them to issue them with the death penalty.

Defence lawyers asked for medical examinations into their torture, but these were refused, even though many of those arrested carried marks of torture on their bodies. Read more >>>>>>>>>>

Amnesty International is concerned that the use of torture to extract confessions is built into the Sudanese system of justice by Article 10(i) of the Law of Evidence of 1993, which states that "… evidence is not dismissed solely because it has been obtained through an improper procedure, if the court is satisfied that it is independent and admissible".

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Dead man walking

By Yilma Bekele

"Why, O my friends, did ye so often puff me up, telling me that I was fortunate? For he that is fallen low did never firmly stand."
— Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy

When the prison guard shouts: Dead man walking! You step aside. The guard is warning people that the inmate walking by is on death row and he has nothing to lose by killing you. You just step out of the way and let the dead man keep his date with destiny.

The President of Sudan General Bashir is a dead man walking. He has a date with the International Criminal Court (ICC). A year ago ICC warned the General that his actions in Darfur were a cause for concern. Human Right watch put him on notice. Amnesty international said Al bashir was abusing his authority.

General Bashir was intoxicated with power. The General with the brain of a foot solder was not in any mood to listen to reason. He told his army full speed ahead. Scorched-earth policy of raping, killing and destroying villages was in effect. Why would he listen to a bunch of ‘liars’ bent in tarnishing his image?

He has friends. He is famous. He is the president of Sudan. He doesn’t have to listen to anybody. He has always said the western colonialists are out to get him. So what if they complain? General bashir is smart. Now that he has oil, he is rich too. They want his oil and those greedy westerners will not lift a finger against him. Especially since his newfound friends the Chinese are not concerned with such trivia as Darfur or human right he is safe. That is right he will play his Chinese hand no one will touch him. Not to mention that he is also surrounded with good honorable friends. No one can ask for better criminal neighbors than Eritrea, Ethiopia, Egypt and Libya.

So ICC in its slow and deliberative process went ahead gathering information, interviewing victims and buttressing the case. There was no hysteria here. ICC knew this process couldn’t be hurried. Accusing someone of genocide, torture, and human rights abuse is a grave matter. Warning shots were fired for those who can hear. Close friends of the tyrant were briefed. The media was kept in the loop. Al Bashir due to his unsurpassed ability to bully the Sudanese people was not to be bothered by some prosecutor in far away Europe.

The African Union and fellow tyrants were recruited to warn the ICC of the dire consequences if an indictment was returned. Delegates were sent to European capitals to explain how democracy works in Africa. The Ethiopian Foreign Minster appealed to Turkey to stop this process. It was said that Africans have their own solution and it cannot be hurried. In the mean time Al Bashir kept busy by denying the scope of his crimes, accusing the court of lack of jurisdiction and insulting the prosecutor as unrepentant colonialist hell bent on interfering in the internal affairs of Sudan. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Court prosecutor: isolate Sudan's president

By MIKE CORDER - Associated Press Writer

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The International Criminal Court's deputy prosecutor urged world leaders on Tuesday to cut ties with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the court for alleged war crimes in Darfur.

The U.N.-backed tribunal issued an arrest warrant for al-Bashir last month on charges including genocide for allegedly orchestrating efforts to wipe out three African tribes in his oil-rich country's Darfur region.

Since then, al-Bashir has made a series of trips to neighboring African countries and an Arab League summit in Qatar. He also expelled 13 major relief organizations from Darfur - a move denounced around the world.

The international court has no police force and relies on other countries to execute arrest warrants.

The 22-member Arab League said, however, it decided not to enforce the warrant when al-Bashir attended the Qatar summit March 30, as many Arab and African countries have said pursuing al-Bashir could further destabilize the region.

The court's deputy prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, urged nations to "deny Omar al-Bashir any form of support."

"States should implement a consistent diplomatic campaign to support the court's decision," she told diplomats in The Hague. "Nonessential contacts with Omar al-Bashir should be severed." Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>

Who are the real criminals?

Written by Henry Srebrnik

A number of human rights organizations accused Israel of committing war crimes in its recent war against Hamas in Gaza.
A report submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council made the same charge. (The Council includes such stalwarts of democracy as Angola, China, Cuba, Egypt, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.)

Similar allegations were made during Israel’s incursion into Lebanon in 2006, when battling the Hezbollah guerrillas. Israel denied this and after conducting its own investigation found the charges to be without merit.

But who has really been engaged in war crimes? We need look no further than Sudan. Its president, Omar al-Bashir, was indicted by the International Criminal Court in early March on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

He is accused by the court of orchestrating attacks that have involved killings, rapes and other atrocities against civilians. Hundreds of thousands of people have been murdered.
But for Israel’s opponents, including Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, crimes against humanity seem to be in the eye of the beholder. While all three have accused Israel of genocide, especially after the recent war in Gaza, they all jumped to Sudan’s defence. Sudan and its allies have called the whole campaign to stop the killings in Darfur a “Zionist plot.”

Of course, as the world discovered recently, Sudan has also been a pipeline for Iranian weapons bound for Hamas in Gaza. In March Iranian Defence Minister Mustafa Muhammad Najar visited Sudan and signed a series of military cooperation agreements. This followed a visit to Iran two months earlier by his Sudanese counterpart, Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein.

Meanwhile, Bashir seems to have taken a “victory lap” around the Arab world to mock the ICC indictment. Qatar’s leader gave him a red-carpet welcome as he arrived to attend an Arab League summit at the end of March, and Bashir took a prominent role at the two-day meeting. The Sudanese leader had earlier visited Eritrea, Egypt and Libya.

Even before the summit began, Amr Moussa, the general-secretary of the Arab League, said the member states would “continue our efforts to halt the implementation of the warrant.” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, opened the conference by asking all Arab leaders to reject the court’s action.

“What is happening now with regards to Sudan is a new chapter in the chapters that consider the Arabs weak and disrespect the sovereignty of their countries,” he declared.

“We must also take a decisive stance of solidarity alongside fraternal Sudan and President Omar al-Bashir,” added Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. And he’s the moderate! Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Rally puts spotlight on Darfur atrocities

A rally is being organized by a coalition of more than 50 Manatee and Sarasota organizations to bring attention to the conditions in Darfur and hoping to inspire people to show support of the preservation of humanity.

On April 19, Omer Ismail will bring his dire message, "Why the World Failed to Stop Genocide in Darfur," to Sarasota as the keynote speaker of the third annual Humanity Working to End Genocide Rally for Darfur.

Ismail knows what it is like to be a refugee.

Born in El Fashir, Western Sudan, Ismail graduated from Khartoum University and worked as a research assistant to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Sudan. His work with international relief and development organizations continued until 1988, when he became operations manager for the United Nations Operation Life Line Sudan, the largest relief operation in the world at the time.

When the National Islamic Front took power in 1989, Ismail fled Sudan and has since lived as a refugee in the United States. Today, Ismail is the spokesman of the advocacy group Darfur Union and co-founder of Darfur Peace and Development.

According to the Sarasota-based Humanity Working to End Genocide. Read more >>>>>>>>>

Friday, April 03, 2009

ICC Chief Prosecutor: Sudan's Bashir Will Face Justice

By Lisa Bryant

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir continues to defy an international arrest warrant, recently returning from an Arab League meeting in Qatar. But the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, says he is confident Mr. Bashir will be brought to justice. Lisa Bryant spoke with Moreno-Ocampo in The Hague.

The International Criminal Court issued the arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir in early March. It is the first arrest warrant against a sitting head of state and charges the Sudanese leader with war crimes and crimes against humanity. Those crimes center of the conflict in Darfur, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced almost three million.

But so far, the only major impact the arrest warrant seems to have generated is Mr. Bashir's decision to expel more than a dozen international humanitarian groups working in Darfur, a desolate, impoverished stretch of land in western Sudan. Read more >>>>>>>>>

A peek into Darfur

By Nicholas Kristof

Since aid workers were expelled from Darfur, we’ve heard very little about conditions in the camps there. And of course, Sudan isn’t giving me a visa to report there. But this anonymous former aid worker describes conditions in a couple of camps that are consistent what I’m hearing:

Zam Zam camp in North Darfur has virtually doubled in size in the past two months. 36,000 people have arrived there since the end of January, fleeing fighting between government and rebels. They are homeless, hungry and desperate, and urgently in need of help. Many are women and children. Helping so many new arrivals would always be an enormous challenge, but with many of the biggest aid agencies now gone it is going to be nearly impossible. As a result, these families are not receiving the food and water they need. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>