“I gave the army a free hand to move out in all directions, to use all of its weapons, with no restraints, no restrictions, whatsoever.” –Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, in Agence France-Presse, September 2, 2002
With a report that the International Criminal Court will move against Sudanese President Bashir for crimes against humanity, we thought you might like to be reminded of some of his past comments and behavior. Here is a brief resume of his long and illustrious criminal record:
– On 30 June 1989 led fellow officers in a mutiny against the democratically elected Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi. General Bashir announced “Your armed forces have come to carry out a tremendous revolution for the sake of change after suffering” and said in a televised communiqué that the coup was “to save the country from rotten political parties.”
– From 1991 through 1996, hosted Osama Bin Laden and turned Sudan into the world headquarters for international terrorism. Bashir later said of Bin Laden: “He is a very normal person and he is very religious.”
– In 1992, declared jihad against the people of the Nuba Mountains, launching a massive offensive targeting civilian populations. During this genocidal campaign, the government forced conversions to Islam, displaced populations into government controlled ‘peace villages’ and denied access to humanitarian aid.
– Beginning in 1994, became the only government sponsor of the Lord’s Resistance Army, as it abducted thousands of children in its campaign of terror in northern Uganda. According to a thirteen year old child who spent two years in LRA captivity in Sudanese government controlled territory: “I saw Sudanese Arab soldiers deliver weapons to the commanders of the LRA. The guns were brought to the LRA camp by airplane, and the soldiers unloading the guns were Arabs. They were big guns, machine guns.”
– Continually used arbitrary detention, disappearances, and torture to stifle political opposition. In 1995, a notorious “ghost house” located near a Citibank branch in Khartoum was used to torture dissidents. On civil liberties, Bashir has said: “When we talk of handing power to the people, we mean the people will be within certain limits but no one will cross the red lines which are aimed at the interest of the nation.”
– In the 1990s, revived the practice of slave raids against the people of southern Sudan. NGO’s have suggested that as many as 200,000 southern Sudanese have been enslaved, and a UN report stated slavery there was “deeply rooted in Arab and Muslim supremacism.”
– In 1998, engineered a famine in the Bahr el-Ghazal region of southern Sudan that killed hundreds of thousands of people. The lethal combination of militia attacks on civilians and systematic denial of humanitarian aid transformed a drought into a crime against humanity.
– From 2000-2001, systematically depopulated the oil fields of western Upper Nile. According to the UN: “government bombers, helicopter gunships, tanks and artillery were used against unarmed civilians to clear a 100-kilometer area around the oils fields. Witnesses reported that over 1,000 government soldiers swept through Ruweng county, wreaking human and material destruction, including destroying 17 churches.”
– Continually used aerial bombing of women and children, aid workers, and hospitals. Among the hundreds of air strikes from 2000-2001 were a World Food Program airlift, a church school, a hospital, and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
– In 2003, organized the creation of the Janjaweed militias to commit genocide in Darfur. On the Today Show, Bashir claimed: “I would confirm that we have never targeted civilian citizens and we can never target citizens.” Of Musa Hilal, the notorious Janjaweed commander, Bashir said: “He has contributed to peace and stability.” Also: “The so-called Darfur conflict is an invention by foreign interests.”
– Orchestrated insecurity, rape, and malnutrition against displaced Darfuris. In August 2006, more than 200 women were sexually assaulted in five weeks in Kalma camp, South Darfur. But according to Bashir: “It is not in the Sudanese culture or people of Darfur to rape. It doesn’t exist. We don’t have it.” On the humanitarian conditions: “The food and health situation in Darfur is acceptable for me, because it is comparable to situation in the rest of the country” and “Any talk of a humanitarian crisis is not true.”
Watch Bashir assert “all figures about the deaths in Darfur are fabricated” on Al Jazeera on YouTube here.