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Today's ICC Indictment of al-Bashir

by Karen Hirschfield on March 4, 2009

I bet there are some women at the Farchana Refugee Camp in eastern Chad dancing today. When I was there last fall, some of the Darfuri refugees told me that ‘old women would get up and dance’ if Omar al-Bashir, Sudan’s rogue President and ‘mastermind’ of the genocide in Darfur, was arrested. Well, he hasn’t been arrested yet, but the International Criminal Court has issued a warrant for his arrest.

Unfortunately, the Court has no burly police force to enforce the warrant, so Bashir stays ensconced in Khartoum, with the stigma of being the world’s first sitting head of state to be wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity by the world’s first permanent international criminal court.

Maybe now he can relate to the countless number of women who, because of the rapes that he ordered soldiers to commit against the women of Darfur, have brought shame upon their families. Maybe he will start to think about the thousands of villages rendered uninhabitable by his orders to plunder and destroy, and the families torn apart by murder and displacement. Hopefully, the women we spoke with at Farchana will see justice done.

The Court charged Bashir with five counts of crimes against humanity and two counts of war crimes, but not on the crime of genocide. PHR has learned that one of the three judges was prepared to issue the warrant on the genocide charge on the basis of what evidence they had before them, and that the two others are open to receiving more information (on specific intent) that would allow them to amend the warrant to include the genocide charge. PHR, which has seen the devastation in Darfur at close-range and has spoken to so many survivors, hopes that the Court will do so.

But now, the worry is the people still on the ground in Darfur. In the wake of the Court’s announcement, the Sudanese government swiftly revoked the licenses of at least six international NGOs operating throughout Sudan, giving them 48 hours to leave the country.

If this happens, millions may be left without humanitarian aid that they depend on.

Call the White House at 202-456-1111. Insist that the US tell Khartoum that this action will have serious consequences.


Places: Sudan

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