Repercussions of Warrant Arrest against President Al-Bashir
Those of us who daily face the victims of Darfur fail to explain how would the indictment of President Al-Bashir by the ICC Luis Moreno-Ocampo bring more sufferings to Darfurians? We also fail when some people keep imploring us to believe that the arrest warrant on its own will bring them peace and justice when we knew for fact that it will not. If by asking for the arrest of Al-Bashir they are looking for revenge and not justice and that Al-Bashir should suffer same pains by rotting in jail; neither justice nor peace will be achieved in Darfur or Sudan as a whole. The rewards of justice we are looking for should certainly be greater than simply the punishment Al-Bashir gets and that out of all the tragedies and the sufferings a comprehensive peace settlement should eventually emerge. It is also the triumph that follows the destruction of the Janjaweed militia machinery that terrorised the innocent civilians and the hope for a better future for all Darfurian Arabs and Blacks not the violent savagery of Arab/Islamic zeal.
We understand the nervousness, the fright and fear by others of what might follow if the arrest warrant of A-Bashir has been issued. Their worries include escalation of the problem, outright intensification of war, more internally displaced people (IDPs), huge numbers of refugees. There will also be major chaos, socioeconomic crisis that may lead to further spread of the problem to engulf and destabilise the regional countries and a new wave of humanitarian disaster. But how can we be sure that these fears will unfold?
One thing we know for a fact, that what happened in Darfur remains without parallel in the bloody histories of conflicts, as stipulated by former secretary of UN Mr. Kofi Annan. Within a few months, up to 300,000 people were killed, 2,500,000 people were forcefully displaced from their homes and 250,000 were made refugees in Chad and Central Africa. Over 4,500 villages were burnt to ashes and in the camps further death and horror on an unimaginable scale continued. Whatever materialises of those fears will not be more than what already happened before. The whole world at large knows President Al-Bashir is the responsible person in command, sponsor and organiser of the crisis. He supported, trained, given orders, shielded and given financial support to the Janjaweeds to carry the dirty work for him in Darfur. It is beyond any doubt Al-Bashir knowingly organised and consented to this atrocity and tragedy aiming at preserving grip on power by forming Arab/Islamic belt that will extend across Darfur to include Chad and North Africa. He will not give up from further acts of genocide and will not stop organising further atrocities to achieve those ends. Recent events in north Darfur where the Sudanese army and Janjaweed militias are back to their old habits of air bombardment and shelling of Darfurians followed by Janjaweed ground attacks remains testimony to that claim. Based on these facts and his refusal to hand over Mr Ahmad Haroun the Humanitarian State Minister together with Janjaweed leader Mr Ali Kosheib resulted in himself being indicted and an arrest warrant sought against him charges of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. His indictment brought extensive debate among the international community at large.
Whatever the risks of the intended action of the arrest of Al-Bashir the ICC takes, the dangers of inaction are far greater, the worst of which remains the anger among Darfurians to be substitute by vengeance. Al-Bashir publicly expressed his intentions to expel UNAMID and all humanitarian organisations from Sudan if the warrant against him is issued. This is flagrant blackmail of the international community. It is here that he plays the humanitarian card to entice and persuade others to join him to resist issuing the arrest warrant. The UN is obliged by law to see that such a threat will not materialise, as it constitutes an act of genocide and deliberate extermination of Darfurians by starvation.
There is no moral ambiguity that nothing could ever justify the outcome of the events that followed the Darfur conflict whether you call it genocide or ethnic cleansing. That horrible countenance of the regime in Khartoum is what we have been challenging and seek to root out and change. Some people are indicating that asking for the arrest warrant amounts to encouraging the rebels to kill more innocent people. Indeed we are not aiming our weapons at innocents and above all we are not the ones who waged war in the first place. We are aiming at the perpetrators of the crisis and the guilty. At the same time we are looking for genuine political solution. The Government of Sudan plays diplomacy as tactic for an outright military victory against our forces. It is therefore very difficult to do diplomatic business with a regime that doesn’t believe in peace.
The stance the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) has been taking in support of the ICC indictment so far remained balanced and specifically targeted against the individuals concerned and not against the Sudanese dignity or its sovereignty. But listen to the calls of those refugees, the IDPs and remember the silent who never made it to protest or call for help. Think of the women who were raped, the children who are left orphans, the elderly and the sick and the others who know they are waiting to die. It is unjust if we pretend it never happened and that justice should not be seen to prevail. Consider the brutality beyond our comprehension as amongst the screams and the anguish of the innocent, those Janjaweed who drove on horseback to kill, maim, pillage, burn the villages down and expel civilians from their homes. Remember the slaughter of the innocent and the roasting of human flesh caught in fire while the militias rejoice in it. The leaders of the perpetrators should not be free to enjoy the fruits of their actions.
Al-Bashir has not shown any remorse or acknowledges responsibility of what has happened. On the contrary he remains defiant and denies any wrong doing and fails to accept there is a problem in Darfur. He admits that only 10,000 people were killed and that all other figures are exaggerations by interested bodies. As a result there is no compromise possible on the ICC indictment in pursuit of justice. The arrest warrant is an action against a tyrant who heads the regime of the National Islamic Movement. When it is finally issued, and we believe it will, the Government of Sudan can choose peace or face the consequences of defying the will of national and international community that may follow. The fury unleashed will aim to eliminate his military apparatus, cripple his economic structure and finances and disrupts its functions, target his troops and militias and eventually topples, arrests and hands him over to The Hague to face justice. We will not go away but will put a trap and a rope around the regime’s neck until Al-Bashir is handed over for justice. The fate of Saddam Hussein, Milosevic of Yugoslavia, Karadich, Charles Taylor, Hissene Habre and others stand testimony to what awaits Al-Bashir.
JEM will pursue peaceful itinerary in the search for justice at every national and international level, in the UN, in the AU, in the Arab League, in the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), in the G8, in the EU, in NATO and in every regional group in the world, to expose the injustice and bring Al-Bashir to the Hague and peace to our people. If that path fails by deferring the indictment then the fear of violent means to pursue justice will certainly become an obstacle for peace in Darfur.
For the first time, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has pressed charges against a serving head of state. Al-Bashir’s name has been entered into the Guinness Record Book. It is mandatory obligation on all signatories to the Rome Statute not to provide safe havens for those under arrest warrants and wanted by ICC. Al-Bashir risks arrest if he is to leave Sudan and accordingly will remain prisoner until his arrest. It is also pertinent upon UN members to carry out the arrest since it is the UNSC that authorised the ICC to handle the case.
And in this process, amidst all the talk of escalation of war in Darfur and humanitarian catastrophe, there is another dimension appearing. There is a coming together of the marginalised community in Sudan to asserting itself. The marginalised have already started to realise fragility of the regime in the face of JEM spreading the war into the centre and that the conflict will no longer stay within Darfur boundaries. JEM’s Operation Long Arm venture has to some degree encouraged the ICC prosecutor to take his bold decision and request arrest warrant. The fear of the arrest looming has certainly spread trepidation and vacillation among the National Congress Party (NCP) members who would not risk facing the same fate as that of their president.
Some observers and sceptics consider the arrest warrant as pointless, it will make matters worse, and will make Al-Bashir and his NCP stronger and would jeopardise the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). Look what happened so far; we did not see the emergence of new war in the South or escalation of already existing disputes between the SPLM and NCP such as the Abyei conflict.
The indictment has given the IDPs and refugees some new hopes of going back home with dignity and that justice has been finally done. This will enhance the peace process and will ease off land disputes to be solved with less intransigence if justice has not been done. At the negotiation table the hassle of seeking justice would be less tiresome and substituted with discussion and concentration on issues that matter.
Dr. El-Tahir Adam El-Faki is Speaker for the Legislative Council of JEM.