London, Asharq Al-Awsat- The rejectionist armed organizations in Darfur which signed the Abuja agreement with the Sudanese Government has welcomed the announcement by Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), of a bill of indictment against Ahmad Muhammad Harun, the minister of state for humanitarian affairs, and Janjawid militia commander Muhammad Ali Abdul-Rahman, alias Ali Kushayb.
They called it the first step toward achieving justice and restoring the rights of the province’s citizens and rejected any bargaining with the international community so that justice can be achieved. The International Crisis Management Group meanwhile urged the Sudanese Government to apply the law if a warrant for the arrest of the defendants was issued and to protect the victims and eyewitnesses.
Ahmad Husayn, a leading member of the National Salvation Front and the Justice and Equality Movement’s spokesman, told “Asharq al-Awsat” that the step taken by the ICC’s chief prosecutor “is separate from any agreement that can be concluded with the Sudanese Government”, adding that “the measures taken are legal and not political.” He said: “The government cannot blackmail the people of Darfur into making concessions concerning the crimes committed against them.” After pointing out that the imposition of sanctions would stop a repetition of crimes against humanity in Sudan, he said: “The political steps are totally separate from the crimes committed in Western Darfur.” He noted that Harun and Kushayb were accused of crimes against civilians and not against the armed movements and pointed out that the evidence collected came from persons in the refugees’ camps in Chad who saw with their own eyes the killings, rapes, and burning of houses because the government banned the investigators from entering Darfur. He said the defendants can defend themselves but would not escape punishment. He denied that the international community wants to settle accounts and said: “There are parties in Khartoum propagating this.” He added that the Sudanese judiciary “is not qualified for such cases because the Sudanese penal code does not stipulate such crimes.”
Isam al-Haj, the official spokesman for the Sudan Liberation Movement Army which rejects the Abuja agreement on the Darfur peace, took the same line as Husayn and told “Asharq al-Awsat” by telephone from his base in Rome: “The perpetrators of the crimes must be tried for the sake of achieving justice and preventing the other side from seeking revenge, which might develop in the hearts of the Darfur people.” He noted that the suggestion that the issue is political comes from the Sudanese Government’s viewpoint and said: “We view the ICC from its legal status and consider this the first step for bringing in other defendants to trial.”
On his part, Saif-al-Din Salih Harun, of the Sudan Liberation Movement which also signed the Abuja agreement, welcomed the ICC chief prosecutor’s decision and said: “The people of Darfur were waiting patiently for this decision.” He added that the ICC is the only side that is neutral and denied that there is a political link between the deployment of international forces and the ICC prosecutor’s announcement. He said Khartoum’s establishment of courts in Darfur vilifies the independence of the Sudanese judiciary and added “you cannot be the judge and the adversary” and noted that the government “is now in a very embarrassing position because the two names mentioned by the ICC represent it.”