By Lydia Zhou, Blog writer
On Sunday June 17, former President Omar al-Bashir made his first public appearance since his overthrow in April. After 16 weeks of street protests against Bashir’s 30 year rule, his government was ousted through a military coup. Bashir has since appeared in court to face charges for corruption, ranging from accepting illegal gifts to hoarding foreign money.
Beyond corruption charges, Agence France Presse and France 24 recently reported that Bashir could face murder charges for protestors who were killed throughout his time in power. The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued two warrants of arrest for Bashir in 2009 and 2010. The two warrants list ten counts of crimes,
As of today, nothing has come out of the warrants issued by the ICC. During his presidency, Bashir easily evaded the warrant for his arrest. One analysis published by human rights lawyers found that at least 33 countries had ignored the ICC’s warrants for the arrest of Bashir.
However, on Wednesday, June 19th, the ICC Chief Prosecutor on this case, Fatou Bensouda, spoke in New York and noted that circumstances have changed. Bensouda told the UN Security Council in New York that the “status quo is over. [He] has been deposed, arrested, detained and charged with domestic offenses.” She called for the Sudanese to ensure that Bashir faces justice for his crimes and called for Sudan’s Transitional Military Council to hand over Bashir and four other suspects wanted for their involvement in the Darfur atrocities.
Back in 2003-2008, Bashir played a key role in orchestrating the Sudanese government’s counter-insurgency campaign. Amnesty International elaborates that this campaign “included the murder of thousands of civilians, the rape of thousands of women, the torture of countless civilians, the pillaging of towns and villages and the forcible transfer of hundreds of thousands of civilians.”
Ousting Bashir has clearly not fixed the situation in Sudan. NPR’s East African correspondent, Eyder Peralta, describes the military’s actions in June in an interview: “Security forces killed more than 100 people. Activists say women were raped. Some bodies were thrown into the Nile River.” In Peralta’s interview, Sudanese Opposition Leader Mohammed Naji Alasam says: “We have a lot of our people who were killed. And some of them we think were assassinated, actually.”
Global Affairs Canada issued a statement on June 5 denouncing the Sudanese Transitional Military Council and Rapid Support Forces for “violently [attacking] protestors in front of the Sudanese Armed Forces headquarters on June 3, [as well as]…the continued use of indiscriminate violence to intimidate the civilian population.” The attack was an “unacceptable and a blatant attack on the basic rights of the Sudanese people,” demonstrating the need to transition away from the military leadership to a civilian-led government as soon as possible.
As Bashir stands for trial, it is important to remember that Sudan’s military has not stopped the crimes they allegedly committed under Bashir. Governments, civil society, and the media need to continue monitoring and denouncing atrocities that are ongoing in Sudan and advocating for the quick transition to a civilian-led government voted in through free and fair elections.
To read more about STAND Canada’s policy recommendations, click here!