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Darfur refugees demand genocide trial for al-Bashir
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Nov 17, 2008 - 6:57:34 AM

Darfur refugees demand genocide trial for al-Bashir
November 17, 2008

Associated Press

KALMA CAMP, Sudan–Refugees in this crowded camp – where mass graves hold the victims of Sudanese government attacks against them – see little hope in the latest effort to end the war in Darfur.

What they want is justice.

And for many, getting justice means putting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on trial for genocide.

Khalthoum Adam, a 50-year-old woman in Kalma Camp, says even if a peace deal is reached, she will not return to her home village near Kalma unless there is a trial. She fears violence by Arab camel herders she says are holding the land she and her family were driven out of by attack planes and government militia five years ago.

"They will be sending us to another danger" if camp residents are forced to return home under a peace agreement, she said. "If (al-Bashir) doesn't go to trial, we will stay in the camps."

This week, prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo is to present details to The Hague-based International Criminal Court outlining what he says is al-Bashir's role in overseeing the systematic targeting of Darfur's main Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa tribes.

The judges will then make a final decision on the indictment and on issuing an arrest warrant.

Distrust of al-Bashir and his Arab-led government is deep and bitter among the 2.7 million mostly ethnic Africans driven from their homes.

Some observers say their fears must be taken into account amid new efforts to get Darfur rebels and the government back to the negotiating table.

After the prosecutor at the ICC announced genocide charges against al-Bashir last summer, international observers and Sudan's allies warned that if the court pushes ahead, the regime could lash out and wreck any peace process.

Al-Bashir has sought to avert prosecution by presenting himself as indispensable for peace. He launched a new initiative last week, offering a ceasefire to rebels and announcing his willingness to meet some of their demands.

Nagla Bashir, a peace activist and professor at Nyala University in Darfur, says any peace process must have support from the wider population – refugees as well as Darfurians who remain in their homes – to succeed.

"The solution remains here," she said.

"Peace can only be created if it starts from the base."

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