January 22, 2009; New York, NY—AJWS has released the following statement urging the Obama administration to heed threats of retaliation from Sudan’s president, Omar Al-Bashir, if a warrant for his arrest is issued from the International Criminal Court (ICC). To this end, AJWS has asked the administration to take steps to ensure security in Darfur and, at the same time, firmly oppose any efforts by the international community to defer ICC action.
“We anticipate that the ICC will soon move forward with its effort at holding Bashir accountable for masterminding genocide in Darfur that has killed more than 450,000 people over the last six years and left millions struggling to survive in camps throughout Darfur and eastern Chad,” said Ruth W. Messinger, president of AJWS.
“In recent days, the Sudanese regime has indicated reprisals and other consequences could ensue if an arrest warrant for Bashir were to be issued,” Messinger added. “In addition to increased violence directed at civilians, these threats could affect the 13,000 humanitarian workers caring for millions of displaced persons as well as a possible expulsion of the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping missions. Violence against civilians or cutting off the aid they need to survive could lead to disastrous consequences and an even more acute humanitarian crisis. Based on his track record, Bashir’s veiled threats are to be taken seriously. AJWS urges the Obama administration to immediately lead the international community to ensure all necessary contingency planning is developed and implemented to protect the people of Darfur and international aid workers.
“Every hour the Sudanese regime operates with impunity is one hour too long. In addition to the mass murder and displacement, tens of thousands of women have been raped and an entire generation of children will bear extreme emotional burdens for the rest of their lives. It is not possible to turn the clock back on the horrors that have taken place in Darfur, but we can make sure the perpetrators of this genocide will confront the crimes against humanity that they have committed. It starts with Bashir’s arrest and we hope that President Obama will assertively support the ICC’s action.”
AJWS has been a leader in efforts to end the genocide in Darfur by mobilizing the American Jewish community and working with others in the international development, human rights and faith communities to pass state and federal divestment legislation; to increase U.S. funding for international humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping; and to push for peace and security in the region.
If you are a member of the press and wish to obtain information about our work or speak to a member of our global team on deadline, please contact Madeline Cohen at email@example.com during AJWS office hours from 9 am to 5 pm eastern time, Monday through Thursday. If you are on an urgent deadline on a Friday, over a weekend or during evening hours, please write Stuart Schear at firstname.lastname@example.org.