Speaking from the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, president Omar al-Bashir has claimed that all that has been reported to have happened in Darfur, in fact, did not happen at all.
Reports have claimed that the Darfur conflict which began in early 2003, was all about the Sudanese government and Arab militias against black-African rebel groups, but the Sudanese president has denied claims of genocide in Darfur, deliberate targeting of black civilian populations and backing of the Janjaweed Arab militia as mere anti-Bashir propaganda.
“What happened in Darfur was an insurgency. The state has the responsibility to fight the rebels. We have never fought against our citizens, we have not killed our citizens. I challenge anybody to bring me evidence that proves the Sudanese armed forces attacked and killed citizens in Darfur,” he insisted in an exclusive interview with BBC’s HARDtalk.
According to Mr. Bashir, any talk about crimes committed inside Darfur is a hostile and organized media propaganda to tarnish the reputation of the government and is a part of the declared war against our government. A UN estimate claims that over 300,000 people have died in Darfur’s six-year conflict and millions more have been displaced. But President Bashir said figures for casualties in Darfur were less than one tenth of what has been reported.
Mr. Bashir was indicted by the war crimes court on March 4th of two counts of war crimes – intentionally directing attacks on civilians and pillage – as well as five counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and torture. Mr Bashir has since denounced the ICC warrant as part of a neo-colonial Western plot to take over Sudan. The arrest warrant was the first issued by The Hague-based body served against a serving president.
Cancelled Ethiopian meeting
Last week a scheduled Addis Ababa conference by ‘Mandate Darfur, an initiative facilitated by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, to discuss peace efforts for the Sudanese troubled region, Darfur, was cancelled, the Foundation announced late Friday.
The Foundation announced that despite numerous attempts to invite the Sudanese government, including sending a delegation to Khartoum and inviting senior figures to address the conference, the Sudanese security services didn’t only harass the delegates, but also confiscated thier passports and threatened the conference coordinators in Sudan.
“Ultimately, the government has refused to grant exit visas to the delegates making it impossible for the conference to proceed,” the Foundation said.
The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the host of the five day conference that should have started Tuesday through Saturday, is part of a number of high powered entities to endorse the initiative. Endorsements from a number of influential parties including; Scott Gration, U.S. Presidential Special Envoy to Sudan, Torben Brylle, EU special representative for Sudan, Louis Michel, EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid and Amre Moussa, Secretary General of the Arab League, were received for the Foundation’s initiatives.
Khartoum, however, remained silent only to obstruct the Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s conference by refusing the passage of delegates coming to Addis Ababa.
“After many months of working with Darfurian civil society to build a mandate for peace, we regret to acknowledge that the Sudanese government is obstructing the safe passage of Darfurian delegates from Sudan, forcing us to cancel the conference,” members of the board of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation said in a statement issued last Friday.