The International Criminal Court has charged President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan with war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. However the ICC did not go as far as to charge him with genocide, citing insufficient evidence. Sudan is now legally obligated to arrest President al-Bashir, but the ICC has no police force or military to enforce this mandate.
Supporters of the president took to the streets of the capital Khartoum to protest the charges. Many viewed the charges as an attack on Sudan by the West. “Why do they do this to Sudan, and never to the leaders of America?” one protester asked.
However not everyone supports the president, especially those affected by the violence in Darfur, but they are afraid to speak out for fear of reprisals. Some speculate that the warrant could lead to further instability by exacerbating tensions between supporters and opposers of the president.
Desmond Tutu, activist and former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, argues in an op-ed piece for The New York Times, “There can be no real peace and security until justice is enjoyed by the inhabitants of the land. There is no peace precisely because there is no justice.” While Tutu conveys a simple truth, the actual execution of peace and justice will be far from simple, given the government’s unwillingness to cooperate. Aid organizations such as Oxfam and Doctors Without Borders had their operating licenses revoked hours after the ICC issued its ruling.
The U.N. estimates that over the past six years approximately 300,000 have died and 2.5 million have been displaced as a result of the conflict in Darfur.
To go beyond the headlines and get a better sense of the situation, check out a Q & A session with NY Times correspondent Nicholas D. Kristof.
And tell U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to pressure the government of Sudan to keep humanitarian aid in the country by signing the petition!