The Omar Al-Bahsir Indictement:





After three years of investigations, the ICC concluded that a genocide is happening in court and indicted the President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir. The panellists will discuss the latest developments in the Darfur Crisis and the impact of the indictment in Sudan, each giving a different perspective. Will things get bloodier and peace totally escape Darfur as the government threatens more violence if Bashir is indicted?



Dr Gibreil Ibrahim Mohamed Fediel:  I would like to thank Open Discussions and the Gulf Cultural Club for inviting me here today and to hear your views more than you hear me.


The conflict of Darfur – of the Sudan actually – Darfur is not new to you. I was invited to speak here one year ago on the same issue. There was no indictment at the time but we addressed the root causes of the conflict and what it is exactly. We need to explore what happened in Darfur and in Sudan because the war in Darfur is not something different to what has gone on in the south, in the east, in the Nuba Mountains, in the Blue Nile –  in different parts of the country.


So we do believe, and you need to understand it that way, that there is something structurally wrong in the country. Since the independence of our country in 1956 we have  moved from one war to another. The civil strife is always there. We have something innate, something internal in our structure of ruling the country and we need to revisit that and find out what the problem is.


In our view it is not easy to single out one cause, to say that the conflict is attributable to only this reason. But the common denominator to all the conflicts in Sudan is injustice. The people in the marginalised areas are not satisfied with the way power and wealth is distributed in the country. There is a small elite who are holding everything and the rest are left out. The feeling of being left out in your own country, the feeling of being a guest in your own country and the others are making the decisions on your behalf is the most bad feeling. That is one very strong reason why the war is there.


So the war in Darfur and in other parts of the country, is not the creation of the West as some  would like to believe. We have our own problems. The war in the south, in the Nuba Mountains or in the east or in Darfur does not consist of foreign forces. We have fought among ourselves because we feel that some injustice has been done to us. We asked the power in the centre to rectify the wrong situation and the centre did not respond to the call of the regions and that led to taking arms. Sometimes the centre said that it would only talk to those who carry arms so people are invited to take up arms and to fight for their rights.


Then we opened the door for others to come in because we failed to address our differences and to solve our problems peacefully. We went to war and war will open the door for others to come in but it is not the creation of the West as some would like to believe.


In the Muslim and the Arab world people are preoccupied by conspiracy theories which believe that all the evil comes from outside. They don’t have any evil in them. So all of our problems, even if we fight with our wives, it is the West who should be doing that. They have a good excuse for that when we look at what is going in Iran, in Palestine, in Somalia. You can understand why people think in that way. But that belief is not helpful in understanding what is going on in the world. If you put the whole blame on other you will never solve your problem. You are going to hand over the keys to the solution to others and you are creating a new problem instead of solving your problems.


The situation in Sudan is not the creation of the West. The belief that it is a war of resources is not true to my knowledge. Maybe it is a war of resources among us because there is mal distribution of resources among ourselves in the country but definitely the West never asked for investment in the Sudan and was kicked out. That never happened. We are always running after them and asking them to come and invest in Sudan. If there was interest in our resources the door is open for them. They do not need a war to come in actually. They are most welcome.


Sudan is not on such bad terms with the West. The United States has declared that Sudan is one of its best partners in the war on terror.  The head of our security forces is the one who said that Sudan is co-operating with the US in this. Our foreign minister said that they are the eyes of America in Africa.  I don’t believe that Sudan is on such bad terms with the West and that the West cannot come in through peaceful means for investment and that is why they are creating wars in the country to break down the country so they can control the resources.


Actually the resources that we have are not more than the resources of Saudi, Kuwait and Libya or other parts of the world and some of them are smaller countries with more resources than we have and the West is not there to occupy them and take their resources. So the belief that the war is created by the West as part of the war on resources is not quite perfect.


If there is any foreign dimension on the war in Darfur the first one to invite in foreigners was the government itself. The government in 2003 invited the Chadian forces to come and fight by its side against us. That is the first incident is in Darfur where the government invited the Chadian forces to fight against the rebellion. They opened the border in the south for the forces of Uganda to fight the LRA. So if any foreign forces have been invited to Sudan the government is the one who has done that


If we kill people en mass, we drag people out of their homes and thousands are in IDP camps and we want them to be fed and sheltered then we are inviting others to come in. That is the door through which others came in. If you deport your citizens to IDP camps in millions, you can’t feed them, someone else has to feed them. And the magnitude of the tragedy resulted in the foreign presence and the foreign media to reflect on what is going on.


 In the 21st century you can’t do this without the whole world knowing that the situation has changed. You could do this last century without anybody seeing. Now people are watching it in their homes all the time. The acts of the government, the results of the war resulted in the West coming in willingly. Actually the West is the one who is feeding the IDP’s.


By saying this I am not saying that the Westerners are angles but at least they are not the ones who initiated the problem. We initiated the problem and opened the door by the which the others have come in. If they have their own interests to be calculated we can’t help that. We can’t ask them why do you have interests here or there.


Of course all the details cannot be reflected in the Arab and the Muslim world and the Muslims and the Arabs have very little knowledge about what is going on in the ground. The main reason is that media in our world is completely controlled and it will only say what the government wants it to say. So you will not have free access to the information so that you can judge. That is the situation in the world we live.


When we come to the ICC what invited the ICC was the magnitude of atrocities in Darfur. When a committee was sent by the UN Security Council to Sudan they reported that reported that there were systematic, massive and regular killings and other war crimes in the region and that these cases have to be handled by an independent court other than a court in the Sudan. They said that because they have enough reason to say this has to be done by some other party, not the same government which was involved.


When the Arab League visited Darfur in the first place they made a report  which reflected the situation but later on they changed their minds and spoke a different language. The committee created by the Government of Sudan came to a similar conclusion. But then the government took no action. They denied the magnitude of the case. They said that the deaths were nine or ten thousand and not more.


The international community and the NGOs they are all talking  of  something in the range of 100,000 and 300,000. Lets take the figure of the government. You are the government of the country, you are the president of the country, you have ten thousand people killed in your country. You have to bring the criminals and the killers to justice but nothing happened.


It is now five years and still nothing happened. One week back they appointed a prosecutor general to just go and look at what had happened there. The problem is that because we don’t have an independent justice system we have to find justice somewhere else. Quite a number of the judges are actually officers in the security apparatus. Most of those who are party to what happened are covered by immunity in our country and if you are covered by immunity whether you are a minister or an officer or a ruler than nobody is going to touch you.


The problem is that we do not have an independent judicial system and independent courts that can cover what is needed and that can indite responsible people in the country. So the alternative for us is to go somewhere else, unfortunately. That is what has happened and that is how the ICC came in. Now what we hear is some sort of a cry that the ICC is not an independent body, the prosecutor general is a bad man, that  it is a politicised organisation and so on.


But nobody refuted that at least 9,000 people are killed and nobody is being brought to justice. They said in  their own words that these people have been killed and nobody is held responsible – that is the problem.  Nothing is going on for six years and the people of Darfur and the people of Sudan cannot accept this situation. What happened in Darfur is a repetition of what happened in the south because nobody was held accountable. If this goes the same way it is going to  repeat itself somewhere else. If you kill and nobody cares they are going to do it again.


Our religion stipulates that if you kill you have to be held responsible so that you have a deterrent so that people will not repeat the same behaviour. In our Shariah there is nothing like impunity to anybody regardless of his position in the society, whether he is the head of state or the most humble citizen. There is no impunity in the shariah. So the criminals have to be held responsible and only the due legal process will clear that person and nothing else. So if the court applies for the indictment of President Al Bashir we don’t see anything peculiar about it. Actually in our study, in our understanding the head of state is responsible for all the  lives in that country. If he is protecting the criminals then the people have to find a way out with him. The protection of criminals is a crime in all the laws in the world.


Dr Khalid AlMubarak Media Councillor, Sudan Embassy: Let me say that what we need in Sudan, as brothers and sisters, living in one country, who will continue to live in one country regardless of what happens is open mindedness and also being frank with each other. So I begin on what I agree about with Dr  Gibreil. I agree that there is marginalisation in the Sudan and that Darfur has been marginalised for some time. I agree that the creation of the problem in Darfur has been the brainchild of the West or anybody else.


But I disagree with him if he implies that that there is no conspiracy theory. There is no conspiracy theory but there are plans which are there on the internet for example the Project for the New American Century which was discussed by the former Likud Party and the neo cons who hijacked democracy in the USA. It is there on the internet for everyone to read. And this project actually outlines the redrawing of the map of the area in order to suit Israel. This is no conspiracy theory it is something which has been published. And if you have not read it you have to go and read it in order to be up to date in your information  in a world where politics is driven by talks and the media.


I agree with him about marginalisation is he implies that marginalisation has been created by this particular government. This does not suffice because during colonial rule there have been plenty of occasions where there were tribal clashes in Darfur and reconciliation conferences were held by the colonial administration and compensation was paid and the different ethnic groups and tribes continued to live with each other.


What the present government has done is that it has tried to alleviate this marginalisation. During  the entire period of colonial rule there wasn’t s single university in Darfur. In the 12 – 13 years three universities have been established in Darfur along with hundreds of secondary schools. Many projects have been established. So let us mention these things not only  a carte blanche accusation for everybody.


There has been marginalisation but that has been in the past. The government has started to address this . There was a complaint that people from Darfur were not given top jobs. The three governors of Darfur are the from Darfur. The speaker of the second chamber is from Darfur. The vice-chancellor of our main university is from Darfur, many ministers are from Darfur and the people from Darfur in the capital have made quite a lot of money, especially in business and they are doing  quite well. Nobody is marginalising them in the centre. There has been a lot of intermarriage.


Let me move on to another point which is the injustice. Of course to say that the problem has been created from outside is incorrect. But to deny that others have exploited it is also incorrect. The Israeli right wing newspaper the Jerusalem Post wrote on 27th April 2006 that the Darfur coalition has been formed in the United States by the pro Israel lobby in the USA. They are the ones who amassed $150m for the campaign. They are the ones who are also supporting their sister organisation, the Egis Trust. Not a single dollar went to Darfur. It all went into organising campaigns against the Sudanese government, full page advertisements in the New York Times and other newspapers. This is a factor which we cannot deny.


Neither can we deny that our colleague  Abdul Mohammed Nour who has got an office in Tel Aviv has published an article in the Wall Street Journal the journal of the financial capital of the world. He said that the question is not the marginalisation of Darfur. The question is Sudan has to change and move away from  its Arab and Islamic connections. This is the argument of Abdul Mohanmmed Nour. I know that he is not our boss, your party is different but he refuses to negotiate with the government. Actually the title of his article is Why we don’t negotiate with the Islamo fascists in Sudan.


Who are the Islamo fascists of the Sudan. When Ocambe declared his accusation of the president on 14th July the president actually signed the elections law. The elections law  gives women in  our next parliament more than 25 percent of the seats. That is more than in the UK, the USA and in many European countries. So this not Islamo fascists. This is a project of modernisation. This is not a one party system. This is a government in which there are more than nine parties including people who are independent and people who belong to the opposition. The first vice-president in Sudan is now a Christian. Others who were in opposition here are now in government so much so that one of the previous  ambassadors to Britain said that there are six British citizens in Bashir’s citizens who were members of the opposition in the UK. After the reconciliation and the comprehensive peace agreement they returned home and they became ministers in Bashir’s government. This is not Islamo fascism. This is a modernisation programme. The comprehensive peace agreement is  the most thoughtful document signed by the Sudanese, northerners and southerners. And brokered by many countries including the USA and Britain.


It stipulates free elections, freedom of association, political parties and trade unions, a referendum in 2011. And this process is going on. What the ICC  indictement is doing is endangering this process. If you engage in such a project in the largest country in Africa which is surrounded by nine other countries with cross border royalties and connections between ethnic groups then you are not calling for justice. This is not justice it is a destructive action.


These are not my words. These are the words of many people – let me quote one of them. For example Alex Duval the most highly respected British authority on Darfur said that to say what is happening in Darfur is genocide is to stretch this abused word too much.  The special envoy to Sudan said that the word ‘genocide’ was used by the Bush administration to satisfy the religious right before the presidential elections. Many other people have also opined about this.


The fact that the ICC accusation came at this particular time is also not surprising. Many experts  including Josuh Rosenburg who called for Ocampo’s  resignation. There was ruling against him on July 9th. There was a case by the Swedish media man in the ICC organisation who accused him of sexual harassment of a South African woman. Ocampo dismised him.  The man appealed. Ocampo dismissed him again and this man went to the International Labour Organisation Administrative Tribunal  which  gave a judgement in his favour and awarded him more then 100,000 euros in compensation. That is against the ICC and against Ocampo because it was Ocampo’s fault. Ocampo was also inefficient in another case in the Democratic Republic of Congo and he did not pass on the file to the defense team and that is why the case was dismissed temporarily.


So he was trying to cover up his own failures. That is why the timing was for the media. The ICC lost its case on the 9th and on the 14th he declared that he wanted to arrest President Al Bashir. Many legal experts have questioned why he wants to arrest the president. If he really wanted to arrest the  president he should have kept his indictement under wraps in order not to warn the president and give him the opportunity to be careful. That is what many legal experts said. He does not really want to catch Bashir because if he wanted to catch him he would have kept it under wraps as he was advised.


So there are many question marks in this but I conclude by saying that we have in common with our colleagues in the Justice and Equality Movement is that we are all Sudanese, we are going to live with each other. There is already a  project for peace, democratisation and modernisation in the Sudan. It is not perfect but if anybody has a better one which is practical, in practical politics let him come forward. But to say that the solution for the problems of the Sudan  is to dismantle what is going on now would lead to the support for chaos,  the collapse of the comprehensive peace agreement, to support any hope for the Darfur peace agreement to strike root. And I am sorry to  say that Gibreil  and his  movement refused to sign on 06. The government signed. It had many reservations but it signed because it wanted peace. The question of how many died, I agree with him, is not the point because even if only five people died in Darfur that is a tragedy for us and that is unacceptable.


To say that the Sudanese government says no atrocities have been committed in Darfur is not true. It acknowledges that some atrocities have been committed. It has investigated this,  some people have been arrested and condemned. It has found that some people were innocent. I leave the rest for the questions and answers and the rest of the discusion.


Chairman: As Dr Khalid has raised a number of points I will give Dr Gibreil the right of counter-reply.


Dr Gibreil: Thank you very much. I definitely agree withsome of what he mentioned. Of course this figure about  creating schools. You take a primary school and put a board and you call it a secondary school.  You have not made much. If a university created by  Jaffar Numeiri and you divide it in three places and create three colleges you have not created three unversities.


You say you wanted to start development in Darfur but you started a war with the people, where have you been since 1956. The day the rebellion started you say I wanted to start but the rebellion started so I couldn’t do it.


I was part of this government some time back and I know what is going on. The road from Al Fashir is only 208 kms and it has been planned since 1948. That road is not finished. Since 1990 we have more than 3,000 in the north. What is the justice in this? The population in the north is something like one million while the population of Darfur is seven million. The products of Darfur to the contribution of the economy are far more.


I don’t want to go  into details. But the fact that some parts of the Sudan have been marginalised is not to be debated and he agreed that some parts are marginalised. People from the south and from the centre say the same thing. It has nothing to do with Darfur.


We believe our culture is the Muslim culture and we are not against it. We said that we want to live in one Sudan. We  want to live in a just Sudan. We cannot live in a society where there is no justice and that is the point that Dr Khalid has to understand.


If there is a conspiracy theory that is not  my problem but I don’t like to be preoccupied by conspiracy theories to the extent that I don’t understand our problems. In the world people are too pre-occupied by conspiracy theories to the extent that they are blind to their own problems. I am not saying that others do not have their own interests or their own plans or their own vision of the world. That is their  business. But I have to mind my business and sort out my problems and not leave it for others.


Still whatever Dr Khalid has said about the ICC has not touched the real issue. There are killers, traitors and cowboys who killed thousands of people. What happened to them and what is going to happen to them? The criminal court in Sudan does not cover genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Who is going to indict whom. The issue is not whether Ocambo is a  good man or a bad man. That is not my question. If you have any problem with the integrity of the court, the professionalism of the judges or their qualifications let us know that. And you have to face it with the law itself.


You have to accept that the people who have been killed, the victims are to have justice. And we are not finding it. In Sudan we cannot get in, what can we do?





*Dr Fediel completed his Bsc in Business Administration in University of Khartoum in 1979.  He obtained a Master and PhD in Economics in Meiji Unversity, Japan in 1987. Since then he worked as a lecturer of Economics at Imam Muhammed Ibn Saud Islamic University, Qasim, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and then University of Khartoum . From 2005, he has been an advisor to the Justice and Equality Movement on Sudan .

** Dr Khalid AlMubarak studied in Sudan, Germany and the UK . He has taught literature in Sudan , Kuwait . He was an elected member of the political bureau of the DOP party in Sudan.He is now independent. He resigned from the communist party during post graduate studies in Bristol . Joined the exiled opposition from 1990 to 2003/5 when the comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed . He became part of the National Unity Government and was appointed Media Counsellor in 06. Before that he taught at the Universiy of Khartoum Faculty of Arts. He is a columnist and well known playwright

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