Darfur Union in the UK – Commemorates the 8th Anniversary of Bashir Indictment by International Criminal Court (ICC) in Leicester
For the second successive year, Darfur Union in the UK, among other civil society organisations, has commemorated the 4th March date. This year, it marked the 8th anniversary of Bashir indictment by International Criminal Court (ICC). The event was held on Saturday 4th March 2017 at the Darfur Association Venue in Leicester.
The event was in memory of the victims of:
- The ongoing genocide in Darfur
- The ongoing war in Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile and beyond
- Enforced displacement – IDP and refugees.
- Demographic changes in the Province
The presenters of the day were young Sudanese from Leicester. This did pump more energy into the event as they were creative with their words and open mic skills. The opening session included reciting of poems about being away from home, the suffering of our people, living under dictatorship in Sudan, and how justice will always prevail by keeping positive and by having the will to fight injustice. Other participants and attendees were from across the UK, representatives of Civil Societies Organisations such as Darfur Women of Leicester, Sudanese Citizen Organisation, Sudanese Youth of Manchester, and Sudan Civil Disobedience in the UK plus political bodies such as Sudan Communist Party and others.
Speakers from Darfur Unions in the UK focused on the significance of the day by mentioning that the 4th March does represent an important date for the people in Sudan in general and those in Darfur in particular. It marks the beginning of long lost justice. Elsadig Elnor, the Chairman of the Union took the audience on a quick rundown the memory lane by talking about the famous press conference in La Hague, 8 years ago, where Luis Ocampo, the former general prosecutor of the ICC, announced that his team have enough evidence to prosecute Omer Bashir, the sitting president of Sudan, for crimes committed under his commands, that counts for the following:
5 counts for crimes against humanity
2 counts of war crimes
3 counts of genocide
The gathering of evidence of above mentioned crimes were concluded by the 12th July 2010, under the statue of Rome. Two warrants of arrest issued by the Pre Trial Chamber are out there, and the perpetrator (Bashir) is at large.
Since then, several light attempts were put in place to arrest Bashir, in Kenya, Nigeria and the last one was in South Africa, June 2015. During Bashir visit to participate in AU summit, an interim order was made by the high court in Pretoria, barring President Bashir from leaving South Africa, after civil organisations called for his arrest on the basis of an ICC warrant. Bashir managed to escape after the executive bodies failed to conduct the judiciary orders. This came as an embarrassment to SA government and as a huge disappointment to the people of Sudan in Darfur, and justice advocates around the world. Nonetheless, the ICC prosecution case against Bashir has proved to be a source of uncomfort to the perpetrator and his government, and it is a source of inspiration for the people of the region. Since the indictment, Bashir and his militias have waged a viscous war in Darfur, and also extended their genocide plans to the regions of Nuba Mountains and Blue Niles.
Other speakers from the Union, including Abdelmajid Suliman, Secretary of the Humanitarian Affairs and his deputy Ahmed Issa, talked about the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the IDP camps and how the international community is turning a blind eye on Bashir crimes in Darfur and beyond and how the numbers of new IDP have rocketing exponentially after the escalation of violence over the 2016 and the first quarter of 2017.
Another aspect of Bashir crimes which was covered at the event by Issa was the demographic changes in the region. New settlers were brought by the government and they were given the lands of the displayed people. The overall goal from this act plus the conversions of the IDP camps into villages/ mini towns is to diminish the evidence of the crimes committed over the years by the government of Sudan.
This has happened a few months ago in the village of Kuguli (see ref. 1), North Darfur, where new settlers were brought to the area and they were given the leadership of the locality on September the 1st 2016. This council was run over the years by the natives from African tribes. The Speakers at the events emphasise on the importance of documenting such crimes for evidence against the perpetrators.
Ref. 1: Demographic Changes in Darfur Province and the Latest Report on Chemical Weapon usage in Darfur – https://darfurunionuk.wordpress.com/2016/09/29/darfur-union-in-the-uk-demographics-changes-in-darfur-province-and-the-latest-report-on-chemical-weapon-usage-in-darfur/
A powerful statement was given by Sadia Ishaq, from Darfur Women of Leicester, about the importance of the day for the people of Sudan in Darfur, especially the women of the region as they are facing systematic harassment, violence, mass rape, imprisonment, torture, and killing. She thanked the UK for providing a safe refuge to the new arrivals from the region and she urged the refugees and the youth in particular to take advantage by pursue education and to gain skills to better themselves and the communities they are living in and become active members of the British society. Also she asked all the members to support the women and girls from the community by encouraging them to pursue the path of education, career development and beyond.
Darfur Union in the UK members has also discussed the APPG (All-Party Parliamentary Group – Sudan and South Sudan) inquiry report which was published on Tuesday 21st February 2017, regarding the future of UK – Sudan relations. The Union was one of 40 organisations across the world that have submitted written and/ or oral 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, see ref. 2).
Ref. 2: Darfur Union in the UK: UK – Sudan Relations – Interests vs. Atrocities and Human Rights Abuses – https://darfurunionuk.wordpress.com/2017/02/22/darfur-union-in-the-uk-uk-sudan-relations-interests-vs-atrocities-and-human-rights-abuses-2/
An open questions and answers session took place at the end of the event, which involved executive members of the Darfur Union giving advice to the new arrival and ways to integrate into society.
The day was concluded with an open mic session for all to share their stories, memories, comments and way forwards. The event was also a good opportunity for the union to know the community of Leicester and also a chance for the members to tell audience about the help/ service that Darfur Union can offers.
Letters to the UN Secretary General and UK Prime Minister were signed by representatives of all organisations which attended the event and also countersigned by other sister organisations and friend of Darfur/Sudan across the globe. The letters will be sent/ delivered to both parties as part of Darfur Union campaign with regards to significance of the 4th March to our people.
We hope that the human crisis will end soon and justice will prevail by seeing Bashir behind bars, then NEVER AGAIN will be a reality.
Darfur Union statement (video):- https://youtu.be/Z2oBhQdVcZw
Video summary of the event:– https://youtu.be/QWEQVAqDU-g
Direct link (photos and article):- https://darfurunionuk.wordpress.com/2017/03/06/darfur-union-in-the-uk-commemorates-the-8th-anniversary-of-bashir-indictment-by-international-criminal-court-icc-in-leicester/
Osama Mahmoud, Deputy Press Officer, Darfur Union in the United Kingdom
Twitter handle: @Darfurunionuk