By Kimberly Hollingsworth*
Arresting Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al Bashir means everything to me.
“Hitler Arrested” should have been a headline. If the international community had intervened during the Holocaust, instead of waiting so long to get involved, over six million people would not have been selected for extermination.
“Genocide Interrupted” could have happened.
Instead, Never Again was promised and today, I firmly believe that it’s a passive, aggressive apology, an excuse for lack of responsiblity.
Last month, I attended Act for Sudan’s conference in Washington, D.C., the Sudan Emergency Action Summit and led the “Arresting Bashir” workshop, where a young Sudanese boy cried out, “I am nine years old and the genocide in Darfur (“Darfur”) has been going on longer than I’ve been alive. Why hasn’t anyone done anything?” He broke our hearts.
A Sudanese woman spoke quietly about the refugee camps, “We don’t care if Bashir gets arrested. We need food, medicine, and help.”
A Sudanese man wanted to know, “Why did the world help Libya and not us?”
Another Sudanese man shouted at me, “You are a white, American woman. Why do you care? Are we your entertainment? How committed are you?”
Two days later, I was informed that my name was published in Al Intibaha, the National Congress Party (“NCP”) paper owned by an uncle of Bashir. The article mentioned me with Luis Moreno Ocampo and was full of propaganda.
To be clear, my stand has been and still is the same: arrest Bashir, Harun, Kushayb & Hussein and enforce the International Criminal Court ("ICC’") warrants of arrest. If we arrest Bashir while he is in office, we will end genocide.
I was told that Bashir is scared of me. Otherwise, they would not have printed my name. I thought, “Good, he should be scared of me because I’m coming for him.”
I was also reminded of the prologue in Mukesh Kapila’s book, “Against a Tide of Evil,” where he said, “[S]ilence can never be an option, even if speaking out may kill us.”
Why is Darfur still happening ten years later? Did we, the activists, really believe that our support for the birth of South Sudan would solve the issue of a genocidal campaign by Bashir’s regime? I did. When I discovered that Bashir was continuing his scorched-earth policy in Darfur and expanded it by way of famine to the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan and was committing genocidal massacres in the Blue Nile State, I felt like a failure.
When I kept asking non-governmental organizations if they would support the arrest of Bashir, I was met with silence and then informed, “We wouldn’t be opposed.”
I’m committed. Two years ago, I gave up a comfortable life and cashed out my 401(k) to do something about the permission of genocide. Life would have been easier if I never heard about rape camps in Bosnia, the 800,000 Tutsis that were slaughtered with machetes in 100 days in Rwanda and the Janjaweed that burned villages and brutally murdered civilians in Darfur.
Where is the strategy for the enforcement of the ICC arrest warrants? Why isn’t the UN Security Council ("UNSC") punishing state parties that signed the Roma Statute and yet, rolled out the red carpet for Bashir’s arrival. There are two ICC warrants of arrest against Bashir. Last week, it was reported that Bashir was invited to Chad and Kenya.
We are not only talking about African countries. China welcomed Bashir in June 2011; China is a permanent member of the UNSC, which referred the case of Darfur to the ICC. Why is China’s hypocrisy acceptable behavior?
When Bashir is arrested, he might want to thank me for saving his life. When the NCP decides that he’s no longer valuable or the rebel groups take him, Bashir will beg to go to the ICC, just like the fugitive Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda, who recently walked into the U.S Embassy in Rwanda asking for help to transfer him to the ICC.
Imagine -what would have happened if we had the legal authority to arrest Hitler while he was on his rampage? The world would have legal precedent to intervene anytime a head of state was murdering his own civilians, the people that he’s responsible to protect.
We have had a unique opportunity since the first ICC warrant was issued four years ago, but the international community’s failure to support mandatory cooperation of state parties is a major ongoing issue, one that may never be resolved.
So…the civilians in Sudan can change the world: hand over Bashir and end genocide. Do what the international community failed to do; make sure that genocide does not happen again.
Without justice, there will be no peace. Arrest Bashir (www.arrestbashir.org).
Kimberly Hollingsworth is the Founder of Humanity Is Us