Darfur Union in the UK: UK – Sudan Relations – Interests vs. Atrocities and Human Rights Abuses
The verdict is in and the APPG (All-Party Parliamentary Group ) inquiry report regarding the future of UK- Sudan relations was published on Tuesday 21st February 2017; it is a worth reminder that ca. 40 organisations, individual and governments across the world have submitted written and oral evidence with regards to the relationship. Darfur Union in the UK was one of the organisations to summit evidence which argued against the continuing of bilateral relationship between Her Majesty’s Government and the Government of Sudan (lead by the ICC indictee Omer Al-Bashir).
Since the deadline of the submission (Five months ago) many more atrocities took place in Sudan, which made the continuation of the bilateral relationship a form of green light for the GoS to pursue the aggression against the people of Sudan in Darfur, Nuba Mountains, and other marginalised areas in Sudan (ref. 1).
Ref. 1: https://darfurunionuk.wordpress.com/2017/01/22/darfur-union-in-the-uk-will-the-new-year-brings-a-renewed-hope-for-peace-in-sudan-thus-far-west-darfur-begs-to-differ/
Furthermore, Amnesty International annual report for the year 2017, which was released on the 21st of February 2017 (ref. 2) re-iterated the use of chemical weapon in Darfur by the Government of Sudan.
Ref. 2: https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/annual-report-hateful-toxic-rhetoric-creating-dangerous-and-divided-world
The APPG report details all the aforementioned issues raised by the evidence submitters and it concludes with the following:-
“The UK Government can and should aim higher than raising cases of abuse or sharing best practice” Ref. 3
And it goes further to state-:
“The announcement of closer bilateral ties without progress on signi cant issues, such as humanitarian access, strengthens the GoS’s hand, both against domestic opponents and in future discussions with international partners. While the people of Sudan are protesting for a broad- based transition to democracy, the pursuit of a closer bilateral relationship with the Government misjudges the political mood in the country.” Ref. 3
“The UK-Sudan Strategic Dialogue must be a single part of a far broader and deeper engagement which supports all those who are ghting for peace, justice and human rights in Sudan.” Ref. 3
Ref. 3: An Inquiry Report into the Future of UK – Sudan Relations – PDF format http://goo.gl/zYw7Oc
One hopes the value of human lives in the marginalised areas of the Sudan is worth more than business concessions/ intelligence info leveraged by the GoS to the Western World and the report with be interpreted into actions on the ground.
Please find below Darfur Union in the UK submission to the APPG.
Evidence for APPG on Sudan Inquiry on UK-Sudan Relations
Submitted by the Darfur Union in the UK
on 28 August 2016
In February 2016, the African Union pledged 1.8 billion euros (granted by the European Union and the UK) to tackle the migration crisis, mainly from Africa to Europe. 100 million
Euros will be directed to Sudan to implement policies and projects that will help limit the flow of migrants from and travelling through the country. The initiative fails to acknowledge the root cause for migration in Africa in general and specifically in Sudan. The latter has been waging war against its people over the last two decades. As of December 2015, Sudan had approximately 3.2 million internally displaced people, which was the world record for that year.
At this critical time, thousands of Sudanese are scattered around the globe, and many more are seeking ways to escape the aforementioned destinies. In conclusion, the proposed funding is highly likely to be used directly or indirectly to finance further wars waged against the innocent population of Sudan. In this submission, we put forward evidence of the Sudanese government’s propagation of violence, as well as demonstrating that when the UK has provided funds and training to the Sudanese government in the past, this has resulted in further violence or at the very least, has not prevented widespread violations of human rights.
Ongoing Conflict and Porous borders
The government of Sudan has no control over the country’s borders because of the war it wages in the three regions of Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. As a result, Sudan has become a sieve for hundreds of thousands of migrants from conflict and humanitarian need. Talk of real statistics of how many persons travelling or crossing through the country is far from accurate, and it’s a wrong guesstimate at best.
Since 2003, the Government of Sudan have been committing heinous crimes against our people in Darfur. As of 10th March 2016, UN OCHA has reported up to 105,000 civilians have fled the violence in Darfur’s Jebel Marra region alone in the preceding two months. Please refer to our website for more recent reports from the ground.
Only recently, on the 9th of February 2016 the U.N. Security Council extended for one year a panel of experts which monitors violations of the UN arms embargo in Darfur. This action was a direct result of the Sudanese government’s escalation of violence in the region of Darfur. Therefore, the track record of the current government suggests that the proposed funds of the Khartoum Process should be withheld as it will only result in more and more people migrating to flee the horror of war to seek safer refuge for themselves and their loved ones.
Harbouring Terrorist Organisations
Throughout its history and to date, President Bashir of Sudan and his government have consistently been involved in destabilising the country and the region. This is carried out by either igniting war directly or by proxy via harbouring terrorist organisations. For example the notorious militia from Uganda, the Lord’s Resistance Army, is said to reside in southern Darfur – Bahar Al-Arab area, just near the border of South Sudan. Recently, unconfirmed reports have surfaced of ISIS cells in eastern and north western Darfur. Despite all of this, it is still proposed that Sudan is given resources to act as a gatekeeper with regards to refugees from the Horn of Africa.
A Gateway to the Shores of ISIS
The Sudanese regime gave permission for ISIS to establish a club at the University of Medical Sciences and Technology in Khartoum. The government continues to provide sanctuary to terrorists and serves as a fertile recruitment ground for ISIS (as highlighted by the US State Department). For instance, 7 British Sudanese students studying at that very university have joined ISIS to participate in the jihadi war waged against the innocent citizens of the world (Reported in the Guardian, the Telegraph, BBC, and correspondence of the FCO).
Providing Training to the Sudanese Police
Previously, the UK Government spent £2.4 million in providing training to Sudanese military and police personnel even though the country comes under a military embargo by the UN Security Council. This happened at a critical time when the Sudanese government was using excessive force to deal with civilians and university students protesting against continuous violation of civil liberties and human rights in the country. This demonstrates that funds given to Sudan do not serve and protect civilians but result in the same level of human rights abuses that we have experienced now for decades at the hands of President Bashir.
UK Government and the Quiet Approach Towards Government of Sudan Violations
The international community was very vocal with regards to the process of the 2016 Darfur Referendum and its outcome. The US State department expressed serious concerns regarding all aspects of the process. The Darfur Union was disappointed that the UK government were quiet on this subject and did not issue a public statement. We believe that this legitimises the criminal actions of the Sudanese regime and demonstrates that the UK is oblivious to or uncaring about the human rights abuses in Sudan.
A Verdict and a Plea
Diplomacy and negotiations are often the best approaches to solve problems, overcome atrocities, and to bring about a lasting peace that would help in healing the wounds and
despair of war. However, justice is an ever accompanying factor of peace in the formula of stability. Both usually go side by side. The government of Sudan has committed war crimes,
crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur, and currently they are repeating the same scenario in Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile State. The war in Darfur is not over yet and scores of people fled western Darfur to IDP camps across the province over the 2nd quarter of 2016. Damning evidence of systematic rape, killing, abuse, torture and imprisonment have been provided by NGOs and whistleblowers who used to work for organisations such as UNAMID. Yet the aforementioned bilateral dealings between UK government and its counterpart in Sudan are ongoing. We plea to Her Majesty’s Government to rethink its position regarding the government of Sudan and its dealing with President Bashir, an ICC indictee. Furthermore, we ask HMG to continue it support with respect to the following:
The process of restructuring UNAMID to be a fully oriented force towards protecting Darfur’s displaced, and also to be more committed to documenting and addressing the aerial bombardment against civilian targets.
The peace process and negotiations needs an independent mediator. We ask HMG to be part of the process given Britain’s historic ties with Sudan and due to the current mediators seeming bias towards protecting dictatorships in the region.
HMG should continue its support of the international criminal court and also should push countries not to receive President Bashir for visits. The UK should also urge the ICC to amend arrest warrants in light of recent atrocities and consider advocating for expansion of the mandate to include atrocities committed in South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and other parts of Sudan.
In conclusion, any attempts of a full resumption of bilateral relations between the two governments, especially in regards to the training of military and police personnel as well as the lack of a clear condemnation of atrocities against innocent civilians will give the current government of Sudan the green light to commit more crimes and presume there is no accountability.
The Darfur Union in the United Kingdom is a civil society organisation that aims to promote the just case of Darfur by raising awareness of the humanitarian aspect of the case, as well as celebrating the cultural diversity of the region.
We also work towards the important task of achieving unification of our people’s voices in the diaspora, and mobilisation of our people to raise awareness of the Darfur issue. We collaborate with multiple NGOs and sister Sudanese organisations to build a platform for a peaceful Sudan.
Prepared by: Osama Mahmoud, Deputy Press Officer, Darfur Union UK,
Twitter handle: @darfurunionuk