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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Outrage Over Iraq Welcoming of Wanted War Criminal Bashir


Wanted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 29, 2012

ADVOCACY GROUP CALLS ON UNITED STATES TO EXPRESS OUTRAGE OVER IRAQ WELCOMING OF WANTED WAR CRIMINAL BASHIR

(Washington, DC) – United to End Genocide denounced Iraq for allowing the visit of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, and called upon the United States to express outrage over the visit. Bama Athreya, United to End Genocide’s Executive Director, made the following statement:
“Is this what the United States went to war in Iraq for -- to allow a wanted war criminal to visit? The U.S. government should issue a statement of outrage.
“This is the third visit of Bashir to a close U.S. ally in recent months and should be seen as a slap in the face to U.S. standing, if not outright U.S. commitment to justice for one of the world’s worst criminals. Nor are the consequences of this simply historical. Even today Omar al-Bashir continues to drop bombs indiscriminately on the people of Sudan and to put hundreds of thousands at risk of starvation by refusing to allow humanitarian aid into his own country.

“Bashir should not be visiting countries like Malawi, Libya, and Iraq that the United States has so robustly supported. The next headline we see should not be about a war criminal being welcomed by a U.S. ally, but rather that Bashir is welcomed to the seat of the International Criminal Court in the Hague.”

Background:

On March 28th, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir traveled to Baghdad, Iraq for an Arab League Summit. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued arrest warrants for Bashir for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Darfur, where over 300,000 people have died since 2003. Iraq is not a signatory to the International Criminal Court so does not have a legal obligation to arrest Bashir, however such visits have resulted in diplomatic pressure and canceled visits to non-signatory countries in the past. The United States recently announced that it is suspending $350 million in aid to Malawi under the Millennium Challenge Corporation, citing deteriorating economic and political conditions, but also concern for Malawi allowing a visit by Omar al-Bashir as a contributing factor. Ongoing violence against civilians in Abyei, South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur regions of Sudan displaced over half a million people last year and USAID’s Famine Early Warning System has warned of hundreds of thousands of people being at risk of emergency hunger levels one step below famine as the Sudanese government continues to block access for international humanitarian aid in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
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The Save Darfur Coalition and Genocide Intervention Network are now United to End Genocide. The organization remains committed to its work to end the crisis in Darfur and bring peace to all of Sudan as well as to end violence in other areas of mass atrocities. The merger creates the world's largest anti-genocide activist organization, with a membership base of hundreds of thousands of committed activists, an unparalleled nationwide student movement, more than 190 faith-based, advocacy and human rights partner organizations, and a network of institutional investors collectively representing more than $3 trillion in assets under management.

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