With Sudanese President Omar Bashir prevented from leaving South Africa pending a judicial decision on his possible arrest and handover to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face genocide charges, former UN Sudan chief Dr Mukesh Kapila – who blew the whistle on the Darfur crisis in 2004 – says it’s time for justice to be served.
“I urge the South African judiciary to uphold South Africa’s international legal commitment as a signatory to the Rome Statute of the ICC, and also urge the South African Government to uphold and protect those legal commitments,” says Kapila, who today is Special Representative on Crimes against Humanity for the Aegis Trust. “Survivors of mass atrocities, from Darfur and across Sudan, are watching developments in South Africa and hardly daring to hope that finally justice might be done. Well, it’s time. Sudan deserves better.”
Kapila has revisited Sudan three times with the Aegis Trust since 2012, each time entering areas of the Nuba Mountains held by the SPLM-North, where the Sudanese Government has been bombing civilians. On his most recent visit, in 2014, he witnessed bomb damage to the hospital at Farandalla. Hospitals in the Nuba Mountains, Farandalla among them, have been repeatedly attacked in this way.
Meanwhile the violence continues in Darfur, where the Janjaweed – rebranded and incorporated into the Sudanese military infrastructure as Rapid Support Forces – continue to bring death and suffering. Another 400,000 newly displaced people were registered by the UN in just six months last year alone. In October last year, at Tabit in northern Darfur, the Sudanese Army brazenly gang-raped hundreds of women and girls, openly confident of their impunity.
It reminds Kapila of the mass rape at Tawila a decade earlier in 2004, recalled in his memoir ‘Against a Tide of Evil’ as one of the final straws for him as head of the UN in Sudan at the time. “I’m ready for my day in court,” he says, “to take the witness stand against a man who continues to preside over the systematic destruction of his own citizens.”