ICC Prosecutor Answers Your Questions

Recently, ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the courageous man behind Omar al-Bashir’s arrest warrant, answered questions submitted by the public through a website.

Some of the questions asked included the following –

What can be done to stop Bashir when he is hosted by the Arab League summit and treated with honor and respect?

What do you see as the greatest impediment to justice in Darfur?

What are the top 3 things the US can/should do to help the ICC’s Darfur cases?

Click here to listen to the podcast for Moreno-Ocampo’s answers.

Darfur Prisoners Tortured?

Rebel group JEM and Amnesty International are reporting that 82 Darfuri men sentenced to death by the Sudanese government are being subjected to “horrific treatment” – including inhumane conditions and torture.

Up to eight detainees are kept in cells of 2 by 1.5 meters wide, each originally designed for one prisoner. The cells are badly ventilated and detainees have to take turns to sleep. Detainees are prevented toilet facilities between 4pm to dawn and are fed foul food and dirty water. This has resulted in horrendous health problems including numerous cases of kidney infections.

Furthermore, many feel that the death sentences of the men are the result of unfair trials, inadequate legal counsel, and torture as a means of deriving confessions. Confessions under torture are admissible under Sudanese law.

JEM and Amnesty International are urging Sudanese and international authorities to investigate the allegations of inhumanity against the Darfuri prisoners.

On another note, Darfur was included as an “international hot spot” on CNN’s National Report Card for US President Obama’s first 100 days in office.

Save Darfur: A Photo Essay

To commemorate Genocide Prevention Month, Save Darfur held its Honor the Past, Act Now for Darfur event across the street from the White House.

Genocide survivors and anti-genocide advocates gathered together for the ceremony – check out a slideshow of the remarkable event – unbelievable pictures.

I was especially moved by the images of rally participants holding posters showing the names of Darfur villages decimated by Sudan’s means of annihilation and extermination. Very simple act but extremely powerful.

Are Activists to Blame for Darfur?

Recently, the Enough Project and the Center for American Progress held a dialogue session on activism, intervention, and Sudan.

The question of the night was whether US activists are making it harder, not easier, to resolve the conflict in Darfur. Does citizen advocacy on Darfur policy do more harm than good? Can it positively influence decisions made regarding foreign affairs?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Click here to watch the full event video – quite a provocative discussion.

This dialogue session came to be because there are people who believe that the US mass movement surrounding Darfur has oversimplified the conflict, directed funds toward advocacy rather than relief, and ultimately, came too late. They argue that so much energy is going into advocacy efforts for Darfur here in the US – however, that energy has yet to translate into concrete changes on the ground.

Is Washington really listening to the public outcry on Darfur or are they just trying to “manage” or “keep the lid on” what they view as “noise”? We declared Darfur a genocide in 2004 – why hasn’t more been done since then?

How can we best use our power as citizens to make a difference?

A Report Card for Obama

US President Barack Obama will hit his 100th day in office this Wednesday, April 29th.

CNN is planning to measure Obama’s first 100 days – through a National Report Card.

Let’s make sure that, along with the economy and other domestic issues, Darfur is included on the Report Card.

Contact CNN through Twitter, Facebook, or their online contact page and let them know that evaluating the President’s handling of the Darfur genocide and its recent twists and turns is important.

Also, on Monday, actress Mia Farrow will begin Darfur Fast for Life – an extended hunger strike in “solidarity with the hungry and starving in Darfur and for lasting peace in Sudan”. Others will also be joining in – either by consuming only water and/or refugee rations for 21 days.

Obama Speaks at Remembrance Ceremony

Today, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum held its annual Days of Remembrance ceremony.

Speaking at the ceremony was US President Barack Obama. Click here to read the full transcript of the President’s speech.

Some highlights –

How do we ensure that “never again” isn’t an empty slogan…but also a call to action? I believe we start by doing what we are doing today – by bearing witness, by fighting the silence that is evil’s greatest co-conspirator.

Today and every day…we have the opportunity to make a habit of empathy, to recognize ourselves in each other, to commit ourselves to resisting injustice and intolerance and indifference.

Obama made two specific references to Darfur during his address.

The theme of 2009’s Days of Remembrance? “Never Again – What You Do Matters”. Those words couldn’t ring more true.

US to Grant Sudan $25 Million

As a result of an agreement signed on Sunday, the US will grant Sudan $25 million to support its upcoming 2010 elections and overall democratic transition.

The funds are to be used to ensure that the voices of all of Sudan’s concerned citizens are heard.

The Darfur conflict serves as a hurdle to the elections – particularly with the question of how to deliver voting materials to those in IDP camps and how to make sure their votes do not go uncounted.

According to one USAID contractor –

In sum, the Darfur situation could result in the disenfranchisement of a significant portion of the Sudan population, thereby diminishing the credibility of the elections.