The International Criminal Court has ordered the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, charging him with war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
The court said Bashir directed attacks that resulted in the murder, rape and torture of hundreds of thousands of people in Darfur. However, it also said there was not sufficient evidence to support charges of genocide.
The United Nations says that at least 300,000 have died in the conflict in Darfur and 2.5 million have been displaced.
On Tuesday, Bashir responded to the impending warrant by saying the ICC could “eat it.”
Amir Idris, a professor of African studies at Fordham University who grew up in Sudan, joins Martin Savidge to discuss the chances that Bashir will stand trial, how it will impact violence in Darfur and the U.S. position on Darfur and the ICC.
Journalist Rob Crilly in Sudan argues that while activists consider the ICC’s warrant a triumph, the Sudanese reaction is less than jubilant:
The Save Darfur movement and human rights campaigners will tell you that it’s all worth it. There need be no conflict between peace and justice, according to John Prendergast and Omer Ismail in today’s San Diego Tribune…
But I can’t help feeling that they’ve been speaking to different people from the ones I have met in five camps across North and South Darfur this past week. Few have time for this debate. Few have heard of the International Criminal Court. Those that have are worried the government will come down hard on anyone celebrating Bashir’s indictment. And most seem to think that going home is more important than anything else.
Forgive me for putting words in their mouths, but I’m interpreting that as putting peace ahead of justice.
Today I met families who fled the fighting in Muhajiriya (incidentally they may not actually have fled – but that’s a post for another day). Some 50,000 are on the move. About 26,000 have arrived in Zam Zam camp.
One of them was Mariam Ahmed Abu, who reckoned she was 60 but looked more like 80 and whose daughter had been shot by her side during the fighting for Muhajiriya. She had survived six years of war but left when she realised she no longer had any children left to care for her. She made the journey with a dozen or so other elderly women who had all run out of children. This is how she summed it all up when I asked her about seeking justice for the misery inflicted on her:
“This is what happened and now we have to live and to forget it.”
She hadn’t heard of the ICC until I asked her about it and I’m starting to think that taking Bashir to the Hague will be more of a victory for activists far away from Sudan than for the people stuck in this miserable war.
The “Fai Notizia” blog interviews a young Sudanese man, who states that the ICC’s actions have allowed Bashir to position himself as victim:
I really hated what International Criminal Court, they gave the Sudanese Government a golden opportunity to polish its image and it’s President Bashir’s. Sudanese People are mostly simple people, after the ICC’s request to arrest Al-Bashir, the government went on and on about how this is a targeting of Islam, and how it’s an insult to the Sudanese Pride and how if this happened the US will surly have it’s clutches around Sudan, blah, blah. It wasn’t more than propaganda and a pethatric attempt to make Al-Bashir worthy of the coming elections, because honestly, before this, nobody liked this idiot. But suddenly I hear people in the bus talking about supporting him against the ICC. He became a hero.
“Mimz,” another Sudanese blogger, writes that the warrant has Sudanese people scared, pleading for calm:
So please, Sudanese citizens, those of you living in Sudan… stop panicking! And stop packing your bags! I know so many people who are actually gone by now because they are afraid of what might happen if the warrant is issued. I’m telling you, Egypt doesn’t need any more people crowding it!
Nothing is going to happen, and no I am not in denial, I am just thinking of the most reasonable sequence of events. You will not be attacked in your own home, you will not lose all your valuable posessions and you will not find a loved one dead outside your house. Don’t be so overdramatic!
A blogger at “The Sudanese Thinker” writes that the arrest warrant may reshape U.S. policy towards Sudan:
[T]he ICC can’t do much on its own in terms of enforcing the arrest warrant (if it issues it at all) and the UN is a fangless paper tiger, but…
… given that we now have Susan Rice as the US Ambassador to the UN, Hillary as Secretary of State, and a Blue Donkey administration in charge of running things, US policies towards Sudan will gradually become starkly different than they were just a few months ago when Bush was still in power.
An ICC arrest warrant issued within this new context will now have more weight, and hence its potential issuance will probably be more useful as a tool for pressuring Omar al-Bashir to act in favor of peace in Darfur and implementing the CPA.