Darfur victims say for sake of peace Bashir must face ICC

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A Sudanese resident of the Kalma camp for displaced people near Niyala, the provincial capital of South Darfur state, walks between makeshift shelters on October 9, 2019. (AFP)
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A Sydanese resident of the Kalma camp for displaced people near Niyala, the provincial capital of South Darfur state, speaks to AFP on October 9, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 20 October 2019

Darfur victims say for sake of peace Bashir must face ICC

  • Jamal Ibrahim saw his sisters get raped by militiamen in Darfur

CAMP KALMA: For Jamal Ibrahim, whose sisters were raped by militiamen in Darfur, only the handover of Sudan’s ousted dictator Omar Al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court can bring peace to the restive Darfur region.
“Two of my sisters were raped in front of my eyes by militiamen who stormed through our village, setting our houses on fire,” Ibrahim, 34, told AFP at Camp Kalma, a sprawling facility where tens of thousands of people displaced by the conflict in Darfur have lived for years.
“Bashir and his aides who committed the crimes in Darfur must be handed over to the ICC if peace is to be established in the region.”
Ibrahim, who is from Mershing in the mountainous Jebel Marra area of Darfur, said his village was attacked by Arab militiamen in March 2003 soon after conflict erupted in the region.
The fighting broke out when ethnic African rebels took up arms against Khartoum’s then Arab-dominated government under Bashir, alleging racial discrimination, marginalization and exclusion.
Khartoum responded by unleashing the Janjaweed, a group of mostly Arab raiding nomads that it recruited and armed to create a militia of gunmen who were often mounted on horses or camels.
They have been accused of applying a scorched earth policy against ethnic groups suspected of supporting the rebels — raping, killing, looting and burning villages.
The brutal campaign earned Bashir and others arrest warrants from The Hague-based ICC for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
About 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced in the conflict, the United Nations says.
Bashir, who denies the ICC charges, was ousted by the army in April after months of nationwide protests against his ironfisted rule of three decades.
He is currently on trial in Khartoum on charges of corruption, but war victims like Ibrahim want the ex-leader to stand trial at the ICC, something the northeast African country’s new authorities have so far resisted.
Ibrahim said his father and his uncle were shot dead when militiamen, riding on camels, rampaged through their village.
“We fled from there... and came to this camp. Since then we have not returned to our village,” Ibrahim told an AFP correspondent who visited Camp Kalma last week.
Established near Niyala, the provincial capital of South Darfur state, Camp Kalma is one of the largest facilities hosting people displaced by the conflict.
It is a sprawling complex of dusty tracks lined with mud and brick structures, including a school, a medical center and a thriving market, where everything from clothes to mobile phones are sold.
Hundreds of thousands of Darfur victims live in such camps, subsisting on aid provided by the UN and other international organizations.
In Camp Kalma, hundreds of women and children queue up daily to collect their monthly quota of food aid.
“Often the officials here tell us that we must return to our village, but we can’t because our lands are occupied by others,” said a visibly angry Amina Mohamed, referring to Arab pastoralists who now occupy large swathes of land that previously belonged to people from Darfur.
“We won’t accept any peace deal unless we get back our land. We will leave this camp only when those who committed the crimes are taken to the ICC.”
Even as instances of violence in Darfur, a region the size of Spain, have fallen in recent years, there are still regular skirmishes between militiamen fighting for resources and livestock.
Sudan’s new transitional authorities have vowed to bring peace to Darfur and two other conflict zones of Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
A Sudanese delegation led by generals and government officials is currently holding peace talks in the South Sudan capital of Juba with two umbrella rebel groups that fought Bashir’s forces in these three regions.
On Wednesday, the chief of Sudan’s ruling sovereign council, General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, announced a “permanent cease-fire” in the three regions to show that authorities are committed to establishing peace.
But residents of Camp Kalma are not convinced, with hundreds of them staging a protest against the talks in Juba.
Musa Adam, 59, who hails from the village of Dilej but has lived in Camp Kalma for years, is in no mood to forgive Bashir.
Seven members of his family were shot dead by militiamen when they raided his village in 2003, Adam said.
“I know those militia leaders... I am ready to testify at the ICC against them as a witness to their crimes,” he said.
“Until these criminals are taken to the ICC, we cannot have peace in Darfur.”

Related


UAE, Israel reach ‘historic deal’ to normalize relations

Updated 14 August 2020

UAE, Israel reach ‘historic deal’ to normalize relations

  • Abu Dhabi Crown Prince says agreement will stop the further annexation of Palestinian land
  • Donald Trump brokered the deal and hailed it as a 'huge breakthrough'

DUBAI: The UAE and Israel have reached a historic deal that will lead to a full normalization of diplomatic relations between the two nations.

The agreement, brokered by US President Donald Trump, means Israel has suspended plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. 

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READ MORE: 

Full text of joint statement on UAE and Israel normalizing ties

World reacts to UAE's opening diplomatic ties with Israel

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A joint statement from the UAE, Israel and the US said: "This historic diplomatic breakthrough will advance peace in the Middle East region and is a testament to the bold diplomacy and vision of the three leaders and the courage of the United Arab Emirates and Israel to chart a new path that will unlock the great potential in the region."

The agreement was reached after talks between Trump, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“HUGE breakthrough today! Historic Peace Agreement between our two GREAT friends, Israel and the United Arab Emirates,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Sheikh Mohammed said the agreement would stop further Israeli annexation of Palestinian territory.

“During a call with President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu, an agreement was reached to stop further Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories,” he said. “The UAE and Israel also agreed to cooperation and setting a roadmap towards establishing a bilateral relationship.”

Netanyahu said it was “a historic day” and that the deal would lead to a “full and formal peace” with the UAE.

“It’s an incomparably exciting moment, a historic moment for peace in the Middle East,” Netanyahu said in a televised address.

 

 

The deal means the UAE would become the third Arab country to have full diplomatic relations with Israel.

The statement said Israel would suspend declaring sovereignty over areas outlined in Trump’s peace plan for the region and focus on expanding ties with other Arab and Muslim countries. 

It said efforts would continue to achieve an “enduring resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

“The United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates are confident that additional diplomatic breakthroughs with other nations are possible, and will work together to achieve this goal,” the statement said.

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Delegations from Israel and the UAE would meet in the coming weeks to sign agreements regarding investment, tourism, direct flights, security and telecommunications among others.

They would also discuss establishing embassies.

“Opening direct ties between two of the Middle East's most dynamic societies and advanced economies will transform the region by spurring economic growth, enhancing technological innovation, and forging closer people-to-people relations,” the statement said.

 

 

Palestinian officials reacted angrily to the agreement, with President Mahmoud Abbas ordering the Palestinian ambassador to the UAE to return home.

“The Palestinian leadership rejects and denounces the UAE, Israeli and US trilateral, surprising, announcement,” said Abbas's spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh.

But other Arab countries welcomed the step.  

Egypt, which along with Jordan, already has full diplomatic relations with Israel, said the deal would halt Israeli annexation of Palestinian land.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said this would help bring “peace” to the Middle East.

 

 

“This historic step will contribute to strengthening stability and peace in the region,” Bahrain’s government said.

Speaking in the White House, Trump said similar deals were being discussed with other countries in the region. He said a signing ceremony with delegates from either side would be held in Washington in the coming weeks.

"Everybody said this would be impossible," Trump said. "After 49 years, Israel and the United Arab Emirates will fully normalize their diplomatic relations. They exchange embassies and ambassadors and begin cooperation across the border.”

*With Agencies