Echoes of Darfur

Will Omar al-Bashir and Ahmad Harun get away with genocide once more?

Harrowing evidence of Darfur's painful experience
Hadar Sela
On 11 April 2012 09:19

Almost five years ago, on April 27th 2007, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Ahmad Harun (aka Ahmed Mohammed Haroun), citing 20 counts of crimes against humanity and 22 counts of war crimes in Darfur. Harun is one of three Sudanese wanted by the ICC, including the country's president Omar al-Bashir.

Not only does North Sudan refuse to surrender Harun to the ICC, but in September 2007 cynically made him the head of an investigation into human rights violations in Darfur. Harun also served as Sudan's Minister of State for Humanitarian Affairs until 2009 and was appointed by the Sudanese government to the committee overseeing the UNSC -approved United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).

Ahmad Harun later became Governor of South Kordofan – following an election widely believed to have been rigged – and in that capacity suspended the 'popular consultations' which were supposed to have taken place under the terms of the 2005 peace agreement in order for the people of South Kordofan to decide their future.

Since fighting renewed last June, tens of thousands of refugees from South Kordofan and the Blue Nile State are reported by UN agencies to have fled the Sudanese air-strikes, seeking refuge in Ethiopia and the new state of South Sudan. Thousands of others are internally displaced within Sudan and some half a million Southern Sudanese  faced an April 8th deadline which requires them to either leave Sudan or obtain the necessary documentation to stay there.

According to church officials and some of the few journalists and aid workers on the ground, the largely Christian population of the Nuba Mountains is being targeted by the Islamic regime in Khartoum due to their non-Arab ethnicity and their religion. Serious concerns regarding food security have been voiced.

Recently, Al Jazeera published video footage of Ahmad Harun addressing Sudanese troops engaged in fighting the SPLA-N rebels based in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan. Harun appears to incite the soldiers to carry out war crimes, saying "take no prisoners".

In February 2012, US Congressman Frank Wolf wrote in the report of his visit to Sudan:

"Bashir’s latest assault against the people of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states has rarely been front-page news in the Western media.  But the lack of media attention is no excuse for policymakers and government officials to claim to be unaware of the unfolding tragedy."

Indeed, the writing on the wall – in the form of existing yet long unimplemented ICC indictments – could not be clearer. As NYT journalist Nicholas Kristof reported in February:

"Bombings, ground attacks and sexual violence — part of Sudan’s scorched-earth counterinsurgency strategy — have driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes in South Kordofan, the Sudanese state where the Nuba Mountains are located. In some ways, the brutality here feels like an echo of what Sudan did in Darfur, only now it is Nubans who are targets."

Will Omar al-Bashir and Ahmad Harun get away with genocide once more?

Hadar Sela is an Anglo-Israeli writer and blogger living in Israel

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