Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Omar al-Bashir's re-election in Sudan is a farce

By Louise Roland-Gosselin

Omar al-Bashir has been re-elected in the first "multiparty" elections in Sudan for over 20 years. Many had hoped these elections would hail the beginning of a process finally bringing peace and justice to Sudan. Instead, they have proved to be nothing more than a way for Bashir to entrench his control and to become the first head of state to be elected while facing charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity from the international criminal court (ICC).

To those of us who have worked in Sudan, Bashir's conduct is entirely unsurprising. As a master of manipulation, rigging elections presents no great challenge. But what is endlessly frustrating is the role that the international community plays in legitimising this behaviour, once again choosing to believe that Bashir will "come right" despite all the evidence to the contrary. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Thursday, April 22, 2010

ICC Prosecutor condemns Sudan noncooperation

By MIKE CORDER

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The International Criminal Court prosecutor wants judges to report Sudan to the U.N. Security Council for refusing to hand over a government minister and a militia leader accused of atrocities in Darfur.

Luis Moreno Ocampo said in a written request to the court's judges publicized Thursday that Sudan is refusing to arrest Humanitarian Affairs Minister Ahmed Harun and Janjaweed militia leader Ali Kushayb.

The court ordered the men arrested in 2007 on 51 charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

It is unclear what effect — if any — the request will have on Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. He also is wanted by the court for allegedly ordering atrocities in Darfur and has repeatedly refused any cooperation.

Moreno Ocampo said that Al-Bashir's regime "continues to commit crimes, promotes and protects the persons sought by the Court, and harasses all persons who are considered to be in favor of justice." Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sudan Vote Lagged International Norms, Observers Say

By Maram Mazen

April 17 (Bloomberg) -- Sudan’s first multiparty elections in 24 years did not reach international standards, European Union observers and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said.

Sudan yesterday started counting ballot papers of the election for presidency, parliament and regional offices, after five days of voting that ended April 15.

“The elections did not meet international standards yet,” even as they have paved the way for democratic transformation, Veronique De Keyser, head of the European Union’s Election Observation Mission in Sudan told reporters in Khartoum today as she presented a preliminary report.

The elections were marred with boycotts by the major opposition parties who accused President Umar al-Bashir’s National Congress Party of restricting free speech, using state resources for his campaign and intimidating opponents. The boycotts reduced competition in the north, the statement said. Ruling parties in northern and southern Sudan dominated the elections, as they benefited from unequal resources, it said.

“It is obvious the elections will fall short of international standards,” Carter told reporters today in Khartoum. “Sudan’s obligations for genuine elections, in many respects the people’s expectations, have not been met,” he said. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Rights Activists Describe Sudanese Elections as Rigged, say U.S. Not Tough Enough

Human rights activists sharply criticized the Obama administration’s efforts in Sudan Wednesday and described the ongoing Sudanese elections as rigged and a sham.

John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project at the Center for American Progress, says, “As bad as they are, the elections are a real diversion from the issues that are going to determine whether Sudan goes back to full-scale national war or not.”

He describes U.S. diplomatic efforts in Sudan leading up to the elections as “amateur hour,” saying the Obama administration has failed to address “multiple crises.”

Get tough

“By not responding forcefully or robustly,” he says, “to the multiple violations of the electoral process and the other things that are happening in Sudan, the U.S. sends a very important signal that emboldens the (ruling) National Congress Party in Khartoum and it demoralizes the Sudanese people.” Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Sunday, April 11, 2010

European Union Pulls Observers out of Darfur

The European Union (EU) on April 7 pulled its election observers from Darfur amid security concerns.

Sudan is on the cusp of its first multi-party elections in 24 years, but the election is being marred by boycotts from opposition forces who say it will be nothing more than a farce and that conflict will continue in the war-torn country.

“I have decided to come back with…. the six EU observers who are in Darfur,” Veronique De Keyser, head of the EU’s election mission in Sudan told reporters. “In some parts of Darfur the violence is terrible. The humanitarians cannot access this area and if [their] aid cannot access [it], we cannot access.”

The six EU observers arrived in Darfur in March, but have had difficulty performing their task because of the violence in the region.

“We can only have a very partial view, so how can we observe properly in Darfur,” De Keyser said. “The credibility of the mission is at stake. People have been asking how can you observe in Darfur, and this is a question I have to answer.” Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

A Memorial to a Hero Needs Your Support!

The Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial will be the first on the National Mall to recognize a person of color and a man of peace, not a president or a veteran of war. In 1996 Congress authorized the Memorial Foundation to raise funds to establish a national memorial to honor the legacy of Dr. King on the National Mall. The memorial’s very existence signifies that we as a people believe Dr. King and his legacy deserve this esteemed placement in what can be considered America’s “Hall of Fame.”

We want to commemorate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by leading a collaborative funding, design, and construction process in the creation of a memorial to honor his national and international contributions to world peace through non-violent social change.. Read more and watch video >>>>>>>

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Taking Darfur to the stage as it fades from the headlines

By Fiona Zublin

Estimates vary, but some hundreds of thousands of people have been slain in the Darfur region of Sudan. The civil war has displaced millions, who are forced to live in refugee camps where gang rape is endemic and disease runs rampant. In 2003, government-backed gunmen belonging to nomadic African Arab tribes began exterminating villages of African farmers across the region. You can think of it as a conflict between Africans and Arabs, between farmers and nomads, between government and citizens -- when you think of it at all these days. The facts are complicated, the emotional truth even more so.

But emotional truth is what Winter Miller does. She's the author of "In Darfur," a play that seeks to put a face and a name to a genocide that has faded out of the headlines of late. The play, directed by Derek Goldman, opened at Theater J on Wednesday.

Miller, 36, is a playwright -- but in 2004, she found herself working as a research assistant for Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times columnist now known for his investigative work on Cambodian sex trafficking, child marriage and, of course, the genocide in Darfur. Read more >>>>>>>>

Sudan: Lesser of two evils

Five years ago a peace treaty ended two decades of civil war in Sudan. It envisaged free elections which would prompt "democratic transformation". These are due to take place in 10 days' time. What they have created instead, according to the International Crisis Group, is a manipulated census, crooked voter registration, gerrymandered electoral districts and bought tribal loyalties.

On Thursday night the five political parties that constitute the main opposition said they would boycott the poll, a day after south Sudan's leading party, the former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), withdrew its candidate Yasir Arman. If the opposition parties remain out of the race, the election, the first multi-party contest since 1986, would lose its credibility. President Omar Hassan al-Bashir needs that legitimacy, not least to fend off indictments on charges of crimes against humanity in Darfur by the international criminal court. After some western election observers advised the government to postpone the vote, Bashir threatened to cut their fingers off. He also threatened the SPLM that if they withdrew completely from the vote, he would torpedo their forthcoming referendum on independence, which is another requirement of the 2005 peace treaty. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Workaholic ICC prosecutor hunts war criminals

"My duty is to apply the law without political considerations," Luis Moreno-Ocampo said in a speech in 2007. "Law is the only efficient way to prevent recurrent violence and atrocities."

That approach has earned the Argentine national both admiration and criticism.

Some legal observers have argued the court's actions risk prolonging conflict by jeopardizing peace deals, such as in Sudan's Darfur region or in Uganda, where charges have been made against Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army.

But Moreno-Ocampo, 57, has pushed ahead, not only expanding the number of ICC cases, but also winning a ruling in February opening up the possibility of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir being charged with genocide in Darfur. Read more >>>>>>>>>>