Darfur survivors welcome genocide warrant for Sudan’s President
.13 July 2010 - Survivors from Darfur have warmly welcomed the decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court to issue a second arrest warrant against Omar Bashir, the President of Sudan, on three counts of genocide committed in Darfur against the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups. It is the first time that an arrest warrant for genocide has ever been issued against a sitting head of state.
“This is really great news. It’s a victory for victims, for all survivors of Darfur, and a very great step towards achieving justice for our suffering people. It is also a very strong message that genocide should end forever,” says Nuraldime Mohamed, President of the Darfur Union and himself a survivor of the slaughter in Darfur. “I can't express really what I'm feeling right now; the happiness I’m feeling. Today I've heard from hundreds of survivors. They are very happy.
“It’s what we've been waiting for from the beginning; confirmation that there's no reason why Bashir should not be tried for genocide,” says Ishag Mekki, General Secretary of the Darfur Victims’ Organisation. “I was so delighted when I heard the news. I have to remember my sister, shot dead on her doorstep by a Government soldier four years ago, and so many hundreds of thousands more like her. I know that to lawyers the difference between a warrant for war crimes and a warrant for genocide may not seem much, but to us who survived, it means everything.”
Sudan at risk of further bloodshed
“While this historic warrant has been issued for genocide in Darfur, Western Sudan, we should be mindful that the NCP (the ruling party in Sudan) has committed mass atrocities across Sudan in previous years using similar methods of proxy militias to mask its actions beneath the complexity of long-standing inter-tribal rivalries, tension over natural resources, grinding poverty and lack of development,” says Dr James Smith, Chief Executive of the Aegis Trust, which has been researching and campaigning for an end to the Darfur crisis since 2004.
"As the referendum on independence for South Sudan approaches it remains a risk that similar methods may be deployed by Khartoum to subjugate the population, within the South or volatile states in the North. It is of concern that Ahmed Harun, for whom there is also an arrest warrant issued by the ICC, is now the Governor of Kordofan, one area of potential conflict.
"This all demonstrates the critical importance to bring an end to impunity for such crimes, but also why the international community must redouble efforts to avert large scale conflict in Sudan as well as place renewed emphasis on securing peace for Darfur, where the death toll continues to rise."