Opinion: Khartoum’s Omar Bashir should not be let off the hook

As people across North Africa and the Middle East rise up against their oppressive regimes, the international community is preparing to let Sudan’s dictator, Field Marshall Omar Bashir, off the hook for killing millions of his own citizens.

In 2009 the International Criminal Court (ICC) indicted Bashir for genocide in Sudan’s remote western region of Darfur where his policy of ethnic cleansing led to the deaths of 300,000 people. For years Khartoum used the same tactic, arming poor Arab nomads to kill their black Africa neighbours to similar effect in South Sudan, where an estimated two million died.

These are enormous figures, even by the standards of Gaddafi, Mubarak, and Saddam. Yet, members of the UN Security Council have signalled that Bashir allows South Sudan to become independent this year, following January’s decisive referendum, his ICC indictment will be deferred.

Why? Because, we are told, he is “on our side” in the war on terror. There is evidence to the contrary: Bashir hails Ahmedinejad of Iran, and Hizbollah as his closest friends. He recently announced that Sharia will be imposed on all. “There will be no question of cultural or ethnic diversity. Sharia will be the only source of the constitution and Arabic the only official language.” “Sharia has always stipulated that one must whip, cut or kill,” he explained.

Bashir also sheltered Bin Laden for five years, surely disqualifying him for a place in our pantheon of allies against al Qaeda. Yet, Khartoum has convinced US and UK intelligence agencies that Sudanese spies will infiltrate al Qaeda cells in Yemen and Somalia, about as likely as a Texan passing for a Welshman.

World leaders now feign shock as the sins of the Egyptian and Libyan tyrants are aired in the media. But far worse has happened in Sudan since Bashir and his National Islamic Front seized power in a 1989 coup. Amnesty, Human Rights Watch and others have catalogued the systematic torture and murder of dissidents in Sudan, ranking it the world’s fourth most repressive state; Transparency International places it among the ten most corrupt nations, with the oil-based economy firmly in the hands of the nepotistic ruling party.

In 2008 in Khartoum province alone 42,000 women were publicly flogged for ‘indecency,’ a pretext for targeting student activists. Rape is commonly used by the security services to punish young women who dare turn up for university classes. Journalists and human rights campaigners are jailed and killed on a scale similar to Libya.

Recently, courageous young Sudanese, inspired by Tunisia and Egypt, took to the streets demanding freedom. Bashir’s regime, seeing Arab regimes dither and crumble, did not hesitate to crack down with unwavering ferocity. Sudanese intelligence even infiltrated social media, luring activists to demonstrations where they were arrested and have since disappeared.

Meanwhile, Bashir’s ICC indictment will be deferred to reward his good behaviour. What message does that send to other despots around the globe?

Rebecca Tinsley is the founder of www.WagingPeace.info

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This entry was posted in Europe / International and Op-eds.
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4 Comments

  • We cannot even overthrow Gadaffi, so I don’t thing much of our chances with Bashir.

  • President Bashir, hero of peace (lol!):

    From the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12414453): “Sudan has hinted that the arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir should be withdrawn as a “reward” for him accepting the south’s independence.

    “Shouldn’t this be rewarded by your distinguished and august council by a new vision, a new vision that would reconsider the position vis-a-vis the hero of peace, President Bashir?” asked Sudan’s UN ambassador Daffa Alla el-Haj Ali Osman.”

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