SUDAN WATCH: Waging Peace submitted more than 500 children’s drawings of Darfur that were accepted by ICC as evidence in any trial

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Waging Peace submitted more than 500 children’s drawings of Darfur that were accepted by ICC as evidence in any trial

The plot thickens. Last year, Waging Peace submitted more than 500 children’s pictures of Darfur war that were accepted by the International Criminal Court as contextual evidence to be used in any trial.  See Times report 5 March 2009, copied here below.

Here is a sample of some of the drawings from BBC News, 4 March 2009:
In pictures: Child drawings of Darfur

The International Criminal Court is accepting supporting evidence of children's drawings of the alleged crimes committed in Darfur.

Rights group Waging Peace collected the drawings from refugees in Chad.

In pictures: Child drawings of Darfur
This sketch by Abdul Maggit depicts a typical scene of destruction.

In pictures: Child drawings of Darfur
Abduljabbar's picture shows someone being thrown into a fire and a soldier who appears to be cutting off a man’s head.

In pictures: Child drawings of Darfur
Mohammed's drawing shows Janjaweed militia in two pick-up trucks using machine guns on civilians. He also shows a tank. The Sudanese government has always denied using heavy artillery in Darfur.

In pictures: Child drawings of Darfur
This picture by Mohamat shows another village attack. Next to each civilian who has been shot is the word "Morts", which means dead people in French.

In pictures: Child drawings of Darfur
Adam, 15, shows shot civilians' bodies being tossed into the river. On the back of the drawing, he wrote: "Look at these pictures carefully, and you will see what happened in Darfur. Thank you."

In pictures: Child drawings of Darfur
Ismael, also 15, drew a Sudanese helicopter bombing his village, torching houses and killing civilians and a donkey. He said the armed men on horseback were Janjaweed.

In pictures: Child drawings of Darfur
Bakhid was eight years old when he saw his village being attacked and burned by Janjaweed forces on horse back and Sudanese forces in vehicles and tanks.

In pictures: Child drawings of Darfur
One young artist named Aisha said: "It is very kind to send us food, but this is Africa and we are used to being hungry. What I ask is that you please take the guns away from the people who are killing us."
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From Times Online
March 5, 2009
One small step for the ICC, a giant step for Darfur
Frances Gibb, Legal Editor
The issuing of an arrest warrant yesterday for Sudan’s President on charges of war crimes and of crimes against humanity was a landmark for the International Criminal Court.

The move — the first by the court based in The Hague against a sitting head of state — brought derision from the object of the warrant himself, Omar al-Bashir. He said this week that the tribunal could “eat” its warrant and that it was not worth the ink it was written with — as he danced for cheering supporters who burnt an effigy of the ICC chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo.

But it was also welcomed widely across the international human rights community and nowhere less than at Waging Peace,, the small London-based charity that focuses on atrocities in Africa and in particular in Darfur. Rebecca Tinsley, its chairwoman, said that the charity regretted that the court had stopped short of accusing al-Bashir of genocide but it welcomed the ICC’s acknowledgement of the role that the Sudanese President had “played in bringing death and destruction to Darfur”.

She added: “After five years of pandering to the Khartoum Government, the international community is finally sending a strong signal that the systematic murder, rape and displacement of innocent people will not go unpunished.”

The group has been instrumental in assembling evidence of the atrocities in Darfur, where the UN estimates that 300,000 people have died in the six-year conflict, and millions of people have been displaced, now living in camps near Darfur’s main towns. Al-Bashir puts the death toll at 10,000.

Last year Waging Peace submitted more than 500 children’s pictures of the genocide that were accepted by the court as contextual evidence to be used in any trial of al-Bashir as well as those of the so-called humanitarian minister, Ahmed Haroun, and the militia leader, Ali Kushayb, who have both been indicted previously.

It also helped to step up international pressure, presenting world leaders with the largest petition to emerge from Eastern Africa, signed by more than 60,000 Darfuris who had taken refuge in Chadian camps on the border of Sudan and who were appealing for an end to the atrocities.

Tinsley said: “Many Darfuri women had seen their husbands and children murdered and been raped themselves. Not only was it complete cultural anathema for them to take political action but they risked their lives in doing so. Signing their names posed an enormous threat to their safety.”

One testimonial from among 40,000 women who signed the petition read: “We the mothers want them [the UK peacekeepers] to enter Darfur immediately. They have displaced us, and killed us, and raped us in front of our children and husbands. They killed our children and burnt our houses. This was all done by the Janjawid in our homeland.”

Another, by a 13-year-old girl, Sumaiya, who was 10 when forced to flee Darfur, read: “The Janjawid and the Government burnt our houses, cut our trees and stole our money and goods and animals. They killed the women, the men, the elderly and the young and raped the girls. They attacked the mosque and killed the imam, the muezzin and people praying in the mosque.”

Many witness accounts collected by the charity were gathered through drawings. A researcher, Anna Schmitt, spent three weeks among the refugees and gave the children paper and pencils, asking them to depict their strongest memories. They showed attacks on their villages by Sudanese government forces and the Janjawid, including adult men being killed, women being shot, beaten and taken prisoner, babies being thrown on fires and government helicopters and planes bombing civilians.

Yet there has been delay and ambivalence over the prospective prosecution of al-Bashir — it is eight months since the ICC prosecutor made his request for a warrant to the court and his charges included genocide.

Peter Quayle, a solicitor who has completed an internship at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, said: “Awkward hand-wringing accompanied the announcement of the prospective prosecution of al-Bashir. But applause and ovation heralded the arrest of Radovan Karadzic to stand trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.”

One reason, he said, was that the “many” who felt the prosecutor’s case against al-Bashir to be hasty and presumptuous feared that the criminal indictment would influence the Darfur crisis for the worse. But, he argues, the worst has already happened. “The President of Sudan is to be prosecuted, not to forestall or deter atrocity, but to publicise and punish his alleged crime.” To delay on grounds of expediency — and the hope of securing peace — was to delay on a false premise, he argues; and any alleged dichotomy between justice and expediency “spurious”.

Above all, it is highly unlikely that al-Bashir will be arrested or handed over. The ICC has no police force and the warrant, to be delivered to the Sudan Government, is unlikely to be executed.

But the action by the ICC sends out a message that the international community at least wishes to bring him to account. Some hope that it may also bring peace. Tinsley said: “His arrest is imperative in bringing an end to the violence that has destroyed the lives of millions of people.”

It was time, she said, for countries to meet their obligations and ensure al-Bashir answers the charges he faces. Not to do so would jeopardise the lives of millions in Darfur — and also the future of international justice.
Note to self: more on this later.


Blogger Hannah said...

ICC has brought the atrocity of Omar al-Bashir president of Sudan into light, the pleas of thousands and thousands of helpless women and children is likely to be answered, but far from relief to the Sudanese it is likely this action will lead to unrest in the region and disrupt the peace action further. Pick your stance on the issue at

Thursday, March 05, 2009  

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