Wednesday, March 04, 2009

First look: Sudanese president charged with genocide

Could this be the beginning of the end? Today, the International Criminal Court at the Hague issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for a five-year campaign of violence in Darfur. This is the first time a sitting head of state is charged for war crimes under this international tribunal.
(Link to story:

It will be very interesting to see how this plays out in the world, in Sudan and especially, in the villages of Darfur. Here are two initial questions I have:
*Will it be enough? It’s only a warrant for an arrest and Sudan is not likely to simply hand over their head of state. No Western government will support going in an forcibly removing Bashir – so as long as he stays home, he is probably safe. However, will the international pressure and bad publicity drive Bashir to reform his ways? I want to say yes for the sake of my friends and their families who are suffering, but history doesn’t support hope in this case.
*Will Darfur get a backlash? How will Bashir and tribes loyal to him respond? I know they will lash out against the ICC and Western “colonial” powers – but I worry that there will also be retaliation against the men, women and children of Darfur in the form of even greater violence and suffering. The UN is already warning its people to be extra careful in the next few days. Can the AU troops protect the millions of refugees?

Only time will tell the effectiveness of this bold move by the ICC, but I for one and glad they took the first step – if only for the media coverage this will receive. It’s been months since Darfur was in the mainstream media and this will bring it back into focus, albeit briefly. Silence will only empower the perpetrators of injustice.