Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sudan / Darfur / International Tribunals

"I Feel Completely Safe" (Interview with Omar al-Bashir)
By Susanne Koelbl and Volkhard Windfuhr
Spiegel Online, March 22, 2010
"According to United Nations estimates, about 300,000 people died and at least 2 million were forced to flee their homes in Sudan's Darfur region between 2003 and 2008. In the years of forced displacement and torture, the political responsibility lay with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, the first sitting head of state against whom the International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant. The court indicted Bashir on five counts of crimes against humanity and two of war crimes. The president of the largest African country, as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, stands accused of being responsible for the bombing of numerous villages. He is also accused of having armed and paid the Arab mounted militias known as the Janjaweed, so that, after the bombings, they could murder people in the settlements, drive them out and systematically rape the women. So far, however, Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has not gained the support of a majority of the judges in The Hague in his efforts to prosecute Bashir for genocide. Bashir came to power in a non-violent coup about 21 years ago, and in 1993 he was formally confirmed as president. In 2005, he agreed to a treaty brokered by the West, which ended the decades-long civil war in the country's Christian and animist south. Under the agreement, the south will decide, in a January 2011 referendum, whether to secede from the rest of the country. The population is expected to choose independence. In the Muslim north, however, Bashir has in fact benefited from the arrest warrant. The Arab League and the African Union have come to his support, and the indictment has provided him with a defiant burst of sympathy within the population. Observers expect Bashir to be confirmed as president in the elections in mid-April. In an exclusive SPIEGEL interview, Bashir describes the accusations against him as 'baseless,' and 'conspiracy controlled from abroad.' [...]"

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