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« Reply #30 on: August 02, 2008, 09:17:28 PM »
Court Accuses Al-Bashir of Darfur War Crimes
  THE prosecutor of the n e w l y - e s t a b l i s h e d International Criminal Court (ICC) today accused Sudanese President Omar al- Bashir of genocide and war crimes arising out of the war in Darfur.

In a case which puts into sharp focus the sometimes competing demands of international humanitarian law and the political compromises into which states enter to secure peace, the ICC's prosecutor, Luis Moreno- Ocampo. presented evidence to the court at its seat in The Hague. An ICC press release said Moreno-Ocampo had decided after a three-year investigation that "there are reasonable grounds to believe that... [al-Bashir] bears criminal responsibility in relation to 10 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes."

He charged that al-Bashir "masterminded and implemented a plan to destroy in substantial part the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa groups, on account of their ethnicity." When the groups, which were resisting the marginalization of Darfur, rebelled and the government failed to defeat them, the Sudanese president "went after the people."

The ICC quoted Moreno- Ocampo as saying of al- Bashir: "His motives were largely political. His alibi was a 'counterinsurgency.' His intent was genocide." The prosecution said the Sudanese armed forces and the Janjaweed militia were acting on al-Bashir's orders in their five-year-long campaign of attacking and destroying villages. Moreno-Ocampo added: "By preventing the truth about the crimes from being revealed; concealing his crimes under the guise of a 'counterinsurgency strategy', or 'inter tribal clashes', or the 'actions of lawless autonomous militia', al- Bashir made possible the commission of further crimes. He promoted and provided impunity to his subordinates in order to secure their willingness to commit genocide." The prosecutor has asked a pre-trial chamber of the ICC to issue an arrest warrant for al-Bashir.

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« Reply #31 on: August 02, 2008, 09:21:38 PM »
02/08/2008 14:57 ENTEBBE, Uganda, Aug 2 (AFP)
Ugandan president says AU should probe Beshir over Darfur
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Saturday argued that the African Union (AU) should carry out its own probe into war crimes allegations against Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir.

"The correct position of the AU should be to investigate ourselves. We don't condemn the indictments but the AU should conduct investigations itself so that we decide on our own," Museveni told reporters in Entebbe.

"You may get people misbehaving. Is it Beshir who ordered them to do so?" Museveni asked, replying to a journalist's question.

"Suppose he made those mistakes," he added, warning against "ignoring the rights of the victims, the ones who have suffered."

International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo last month requested an arrest warrant be issued against Beshir over charges of war crimes in Sudan's war-torn western region of Darfur.

If accepted by the judges, the request would result in the first ever arrest warrant issued by the world tribunal against a sitting head of state.

The move drew an uneasy reaction from the African Union, which urged ICC judges to give Beshir more time and warned against the risks of further chaos in the conflict-ridden country.

Museveni added he believed that Sudan had also "committed war crimes by supporting the Lord's Resistance Army", the Ugandan rebel group Museveni's regime has been battling for two decades.

"The Lord's Resistance Army -- led by Joseph Kony, using bases in Sudan and with the backing of Khartoum government -- has caused untold suffering to millions of people in northern Uganda," he said.

LRA leader Kony and four of his top commanders were slapped with ICC arrest warrants in 2005 for raping and mutilating civilians, enlisting child soldiers and massacring thousands.

Museveni took power through a military coup in 1986, three years before Beshir seized power in Khartoum.

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« Reply #32 on: August 05, 2008, 08:31:57 PM »
August 5th, 2008
Turn of the screwdriver - genocide, justice or peace for Darfur?
Post a comment (1)Posted by: Louis Charbonneau
Tags: Global News, Bashir, Darfur, genocide, ICC, international criminal court, Sudan, The Hague, U.N., United Nations Security Council, war crimes

Sudan’s ambassador to the United Nations Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem says Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, is “a screwdriver in the workshop of double standards” for seeking to prosecute the president of Sudan, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, for genocide in Darfur.  He rejects the term genocide and says the prosecutor is unfairly picking on Africa’s largest country and ignoring war crimes elsewhere.

Moreno-Ocampo accuses Bashir of launching a genocide campaign in 2003 that was intended to wipe out three ethnic groups in Darfur, a desolate and remote region of western Sudan where oil was discovered in 2005. He says the Sudanese leader used mass murder, rape, deportation and “slow death” by starvation and disease to kill tens of thousands in Darfur.  Moreno-Ocampo wants the ICC judges to issue an international arrest warrant for Bashir.

Khartoum rejects the charges and says it will never hand over any of its citizens to The Hague, where the ICC is based. Like the United States, Russia and China, Sudan is not a party to the ICC, though the Security Council referred the issue of Darfur to the court in 2005.

Abdalhaleem says that if the judges decide to indict Bashir it will ignite a “curtain of fire” that will engulf all of Sudan and the region. He has yet to provide details, but U.N. peacekeeping officials say they are worried.

China, Russia, South Africa and others fear an indictment of Bashir would shatter the fragile peace process in Darfur and have vowed to push the Security Council to freeze the ICC investigation of Bashir. The United States, Britain, France and other Western powers say they do not want to tamper with the independence of the ICC and oppose intervening.

The African Union, the Arab League and non-aligned nations have also urged the council to suspend any ICC indictment of Bashir. Russia’s U.N. envoy Vitaly Churkin has said that the countries calling for a suspension comprise roughly two-thirds of the earth’s population.

Those arguing for a suspension say the top priority should be the full deployment of all 26,000 U.N.-African Union peacekeepers (only 9,500 are there now) and a swift end to the 5-year-old conflict in Darfur, in which international experts believe at least 200,000 have died, with another 2.5 million left hungry and homeless.

Richard Dicker, an international justice expert at the New York-based Human Rights Watch, says the opposite is true — nothing could be better for peace in Darfur than to indict, arrest and try the man believed to be responsible for orchestrating the genocide.

What do you think?  Is the West guilty of applying double standards for justice in the developing world?  Do you fear a “curtain of fire” in Africa if Bashir is indicted? Should the world push for peace in Darfur now and worry about indictments later?  Or should justice come first for the victims of war crimes in Darfur, whatever the cost?

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« Reply #33 on: August 14, 2008, 11:40:01 PM »
Sudan army in 'Darfur operation' 
The UN says fighting has displaced up to two million people since 2003 [File: EPA]
The Sudanese army has begun a massive operation to destroy rebel bases in northern Darfur, according to two factions based in the area.

The army is said to have launched the offensive in the town of Wadi Atron, near the Sudanese-Libyan border, on Tuesday and took control of areas which had for years been under the control of rebels who want more autonomy for the region.

Al-Sayyid Sherif, of the Sudan Liberation Army (Unity) faction, said: "They attacked our areas in Wadi Atron with a massive force.

"We consider this a new declaration of war."

SLA (Unity) is one of the largest Darfur rebel groups and was one of the few factions to say they were ready to go to peace talks.

A Sudanese army spokesman declined to immediately comment, but one army source confirmed there were operations under way.

Suleiman Marajan, a commander from the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) faction, said: "They came with more than 200 vehicles and killed seven people."

The SLA was founded and is currently led by Abdel Wahed Mohamed al-Nur.

The oil factor

Marajan also said that the government had moved in Chinese workers who were looking for oil in the remote area.

The Dow Jones newswire news agency reported last month that state-owned Chinese oil service companies were in talks to help Sudan exploit crude reserves in North Darfur where security would be provided by the Sudanese army.
North Darfur is part of the so-called Block12A, a site where oil is said to have been found, and is operated by Sudan's state-owned Sudapet, Ansan, an independent firm, and Saudi Arabia's Al-Qahtani group,  the article said.
The Sudanese oil ministry would not immediately confirm whether any exploration has begun in Block 12A.

Chinese companies dominate Sudan's budding oil sector which produces more than 500,000 barrels per day of crude.

Ocampo 'evidence'

In a related development, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, told Al Jazeera that the ICC maintains its right to investigate human-rights violations in Darfur despite Sudan not recognising the ICC's jurisdiction.

He said that he had clear evidence of abuses committed in Darfur, including certificates for more than a hundred people, and a clear map of villages and regions that were exposed to attacks.

Ocampo described the violations that took place in Darfur as a "scandal".

According to the UN, up to 300,000 people have died  and more than 2.2 million have fled their homes since the conflict erupted in February 2003.

Sudan says 10,000 people have been killed.

The war began when African ethnic minority rebels took up arms against the Arab-led Khartoum government and state-backed Arab militias.

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« Reply #34 on: August 14, 2008, 11:41:47 PM »
Home / News / World / Asia   
Bush urges China to use clout with Sudan on Darfur
 President George W. Bush and the China's President Hu Jintao shake hands in The Great Hall of the People before a reception in honor of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China, August 8, 2008. (REUTERS/Larry Downing)
Email|Print|Single Page| Text size – + By Matt Spetalnick
August 11, 2008
BEIJING (Reuters) - President George W. Bush said on Monday he used talks with China's leaders during the Beijing Olympics to press them to use their influence with Sudan to help end the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

Wrapping up his Olympics tour, Bush said that in Sunday's meetings with President Hu Jintao and other officials he raised U.S. concerns, including human rights and religious freedoms in China and the situation in Sudan's troubled Darfur region.

"My attitude is if you've got relations with (Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir), think about helping to solve the humanitarian crisis in Darfur," Bush said in an interview with NBC Sports. "That was my message to the Chinese government."

Support for Sudan -- China is a key investor in its oil industry and Khartoum's biggest arms supplier -- has been among the sources of international criticism of Beijing as the world's spotlight has fallen on it for the Olympic games.

Bush has denounced the Sudanese government for its policies in the Darfur region, where conflict has taken some 200,000 lives and displaced some 2.5 million people since rebels took up arms against the government in 2003.

Bush has called it genocide, a charge the Sudanese government has rejected.

The United States protested to China over its decision before the Games' opening ceremonies to revoke the visa of Olympic gold medalist Joey Cheek, an activist for Darfur.

"Joey Cheek has just got to know that I took the Sudanese message for him (to the Chinese government)," Bush said.

Bush said he also made his case for more religious freedom in China in private talks with the Communist leadership after worshipping at a state-sanctioned Beijing church, and said Hu "listened politely."

"It gave me a chance to say to the Chinese people, religion won't hurt you," Bush said.

"And it gave me a chance to say to the government, why don't you register the underground churches and give them a chance to flourish?"

Bush's four-day visit to Beijing was a balancing act, taking in the Olympic games and praising China on a variety of issues while publicly nudging China to improve its internationally criticized record on human rights.

(Editing by Jerry Norton)

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« Reply #35 on: August 14, 2008, 11:43:31 PM »
PPP-S condemns NATO attack in S Waziristan

Staff Report

PESHAWAR: Pakistan People’s Party-Sherpao (PPP-S) chief Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao on Thursday strongly condemned US-led NATO forces’ missile attack carried out in South Waziristan Agency on Wednesday and termed it an open violation of the country’s airspace.

In a statement issued here, the PPP-S chief termed the NATO attack an aggression against the country’s sovereignty and urged for practical steps to stop such incidents in future.

He said that NATO attacks in Pakistan are violation of UN laws and a deadly blow on the country’s sovereignty. He said that the government should not show any lethargy in such cases and devise a useful strategy for putting an end to such attacks.

Sherpao, former interior minister, said such attacks were causing disappointment and anger among the masses and have killed many people.

He said the country’s security situation was further deteriorated with the NATO attacks and if such attacks were not stopped, these will bring bad consequences.

He also showed concern over helicopters and war planes’ shelling in Bajaur Agency due to which thousands of tribesmen have started to shift to safer places.

He expressed his full support and sympathy with the people of Bajaur and demanded of the government to take immediate steps for providing shelter, food and other basic amenities to the displaced people of the agency.

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« Reply #36 on: August 16, 2008, 09:26:29 AM »
Rebels accuse Sudanese army of new Darfur attacks
Sat 16 Aug 2008, 9:52 GMT
[-] Text
  • By Opheera McDoom

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Darfur rebels accused Sudan's government of more attacks on Saturday, saying Khartoum was not serious about peace and was pursuing a military solution to the conflict.

Sudan's army denied the allegation and said its troops had fought off an ambush in an isolated incident.

 The joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping mission in the remote region said it was checking the reports.

"The government army and militia attacked us yesterday in Abu Hamra and Kofod east of Kutum in North Darfur," Nimr Mohamed, spokesman for the Sudan Liberation Army under Abdel Wahed Mohamed el-Nur, told Reuters from Darfur.

"The National Congress Party talks peace but in reality on the ground they are pursuing a military solution," he said on Saturday. He added that rebel and army forces were still in the area and he expected further clashes.

Two rebels were killed and many civilians were killed or wounded in the crossfire, he said.

A Sudanese army spokesman denied attacking, saying troops were accompanying a convoy of local officials when they were attacked by bandits on camels whom they fought off without any losses.

"These areas don't even belong to SLA Abdel Wahed," the spokesman said.

Since the International Criminal Court announced steps last month to indict President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for genocide and war crimes, he paid a defiant visit to Darfur calling for all rebel groups to attend peace talks.

The only faction that signed a largely unimplemented 2006 peace deal with Khartoum also accused the army of attacking its areas on Thursday.

"The government attacked us in Dorma, North Darfur...killing five of our troops," said Mohamed Drbeen, military spokesman for the SLA faction led by presidential adviser Minni Arcua Minnawi.

The army said it had no information on these clashes.

Rebels say this is part of a wider campaign by Khartoum before new peace efforts under new joint U.N.-African Union mediator Djibril Bassole.

This week, a massive army force seized control of rebel areas in the remote north of Darfur.

Before previous peace talks, government and rebel forces have launched attacks to control as much land as possible.

International experts estimate about 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million driven from their homes since mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms in early 2003, accusing the central government of neglect.

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« Reply #37 on: August 16, 2008, 09:30:13 AM »
 Suspected Insurgents Killed in Missile Strike, Pakistanis Say
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Published: August 13, 2008
DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (AP) — A missile strike in a Pakistani tribal region killed at least nine suspected insurgents, including foreigners, Pakistani officials said Wednesday, raising suspicions that the United States was again seeking out militants in Pakistan.

A spokesman for the American military denied that it was behind the four missiles, which reportedly struck late Tuesday, destroying a compound in a mountainous area near Angore Adda in South Waziristan. However, past strikes are believed to have been conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency using Predator drones.

The tribal regions are considered havens for militants linked to Al Qaeda and the Taliban who plot and stage attacks on United States and NATO forces in Afghanistan, and the United States has repeatedly urged Pakistan to bring those areas under control. The missile strikes, however, have strained ties between the United States and Pakistan.

A Pakistani military official said at least nine people died in the latest strike. Two Pakistan intelligence service officials said 22 to 25 people — including Arabs, Turkmens and Pakistani militants — died in the strike, which was apparently launched from Afghanistan.

They said the camp was linked to the group of the Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whose followers are fighting in Afghanistan. They said it was not clear if the camp leader, an Afghan identified as Cmdr. Zangeer, or other senior militants had been killed.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman, Mohammed Sadiq, said he had no official information on the strike. In the past, Pakistan has decried the missile strikes as violations of its sovereignty.

An American military spokesman in Afghanistan, First Lt. Nathan Perry, said, “I’ve got no reports of any border incidents, any cross-border incidents, so it wasn’t us.”

Pakistan’s army spokesman was not available for comment. The other Pakistani officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the news media.

Suspected American missile strikes have killed at least two senior Qaeda militants inside Pakistan this year, including an Egyptian explosives and poison expert, Abu Khabab al-Masri, who died in a strike in South Waziristan in July.

Separately on Wednesday, Pakistani forces backed by helicopter gunships pounded militant positions in the Bajur tribal region in an operation that has displaced thousands of people.

At least 25 suspected militants were killed on Wednesday and another 30 were wounded in airstrikes in several villages in the region, military officials said.

There has been no way to independently confirm the death toll.

Early Wednesday, gunmen attacked the headquarters of a banned militant group in the Khyber tribal region and shot its leader dead, his spokesman said.

The leader, Hajji Namdar, died of his wounds after he was taken to a hospital from the shooting in Barqambarkhel, about seven miles from the region’s main town of Bara, said the spokesman, Munsaf Khan.

His Vice and Virtue Movement was among three groups banned in June when security forces started an operation to curb militancy and lawlessness in Khyber, amid concern that the main northwestern city of Peshawar could be under threat.

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« Reply #38 on: August 21, 2008, 10:07:43 PM »
Sudanese: 'What Arab-African rift?'
In Sudan's Arab north, Arabs marry, go to school, and work side by side with Africans from Darfur. The divide portrayed in the West means little to people here.
By Heba Aly | Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor
from the August 22, 2008 edition

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Dongola, Sudan - Ask Abbas Adam Ibrahim whether he is Arab or African, and he does not quite know how to respond. "Both," the Sudanese man says, after slight hesitation.

Mr. Adam comes from the Fur tribe, of Darfur – commonly understood to be an African tribe, under persecution by Sudan's Arab-dominated government.

Last month, the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor indicted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur, saying "evidence shows that al-Bashir masterminded and implemented a plan to destroy in substantial part the Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa groups, on account of their ethnicity."

But for Sudanese Arabs and Africans coexisting peacefully outside Darfur, these racial distinctions are not so clear.

Adam, for example, believes he has some Arab blood.

During the drought of the early 1980s, Adam left Darfur for the mostly-Arab north of Sudan, in search of work and a better life. He settled in Dongola, a city more than 300 miles north of the capital, Khartoum, and has lived among Arabs ever since. He even married one and now has four "mixed" children.

"We live here peacefully and there are no problems," he says. "We live as if we are natives here. We feel that this is our country and this is our town."

Around the corner, at a small Darfurian social club, the atmosphere is loud and buoyant. Young men gather around tables playing cards, slamming down dominoes excitedly, and watching television. They are mostly economic migrants who left Darfur years ago. Among them are members of various tribes that are killing each other back in Darfur and in neighboring Kordofan State.

"There is no such thing as Arab or African. We are all Sudanese," says Mohammed El-Cheikh an Arab from Western Kordofan. "Him over there," he says, pointing across the yard to a young man standing shyly in the corner, "that's my friend Abubakr. He's from the [African] Tama tribe.

"There are problems in Darfur, but they are not between people. They are related to the government and to politics."

In scores of markets, clubs, and homes in the Arab north, Arabs and Africans are working side by side, sending their children to the same schools and intermarrying. The Arab-African distinction that has played out so broadly in media coverage of Darfur means little to people here.

In fact, historians say the distinction has no factual basis. There is a long tradition of intermarrying between the Arab and African tribes that settled in what is now Sudan.

"No single tribe in Sudan can claim it is purely African or Arab," says history teacher and mayor of the greater Dongola locality Bushra Mohamed Saleh. "They are all mixed."

And while some tribes may be more Arab or more African, coexistence between them is nothing new. Even in Darfur, different tribal groups lived together for centuries. So-called Arab nomadic tribes and African farming communities shared the same land – the nomads using it for their cattle to graze; the farmers using it to grow their crops. Conflicts arose routinely but were solved through traditional leaders.

Things changed early this millennium when traditional leaders lost their control, guns became more commonplace, and a group of non-Arab Darfurians took up arms against the government, arguing that their region had been neglected.

In responding to this rebellion, the government made a "big, big, big mistake," says Gen. Hassan Hamadain, who governed West Darfur State during the late 1990s.

It called upon popular defense forces from local communities to combat the Darfur rebels. But those who responded were mostly Arabs, many of whom joined the now infamous janjaweed militia that is accused of razing hundreds of African villages, looting, raping, and killing along the way.

"The government made use of the conflict in Darfur in a kind of non-thoughtful way," says General Hamadain, who has since retired from politics, acknowledging that he and others failed in Darfur. "It was not sensitive to the tribal relationships, the tribal history of the area, and the resources."

And so what began as normal, cyclical conflicts between mostly Arab herders and non-Arab farmers grew to what has been termed the world's largest humanitarian disaster. The United Nations says some 300,000 have died and 2.5 million have been displaced.

Among the dead were members of Hassan Ali Ibrahim's village, which was completely destroyed by Arabs. But he says he can't hold them all responsible.

"The disputes between the Arabs and people in Darfur originate from different reasons – grazing, pastures, natural things. They are not rooted in race," said the community elder, sitting under a tree at the Islamic school he manages in Dongola, where both Arab and African children sit side by side. "The Arabs that are here have nothing to do with this."

Still, for some Darfurians, it is not so easy to forget. Daoud (not his real name) watched with his own eyes as members of his family were killed by Arab militias in West Darfur. After the first attack on his village, he found his father dead. He says he does not blame the Arabs – "Who supported them? Who gave them the guns? Wasn't it the government?" – but he still has difficulty getting too close.

"I can interact with Arabs at work or in general ways, but when it comes to close relationships, I feel there is a wall between us."

British analyst Jago Salmon says this social polarization – a result he blames partly on simplistic descriptions by Western Darfur advocates – has been an unfortunate consequence of the conflict, but was never its root.

"We were still looking for dichotomy of some kind, something that would explain what was going on easily and simply. We latched onto the Arab-African dichotomy, which did vast damage…. Then as the conflict developed, it became a reality on the ground. It became something by which people explained the conflict themselves."

But as the conflict continues in Darfur – 180,000 have fled their homes this year alone, according to the UN – Adam will wake up next to his Arab wife every morning, Ali will teach his Arab students, and plenty of other African Darfurians will keep living alongside Arabs, wishing the politics would cease and their tribes could go back to life as usual.