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Many Sudanese Welcome Kushayb's Arrest, Detention by ICC

FILE - Sunlight bounces off the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Feb. 6, 2020 Sudanese militia leader Ali Kushayb has been arrested on war crimes charges related to the conflict in Darfur.
FILE - Sunlight bounces off the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Feb. 6, 2020 Sudanese militia leader Ali Kushayb has been arrested on war crimes charges related to the conflict in Darfur.

There are two reasons why Darfur militia leader Ali Kushayb turned himself in to authorities Tuesday and is sitting in an International Criminal Court detention center to face charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity: Sudan’s new leadership and international pressure, according to political analyst Abdulmoniem Himmat.

“It also an indication that the Sudan revolution is beginning to besiege those who are accused of war crimes in Darfur," Himmat told VOA’s South Sudan in Focus. "There are many reasons [that] pushed Kushayb to surrender, among which [are] the international blockade, loss of support and perhaps a moment of weakness.”

Prosecutors say Kushayb commanded thousands of Janjaweed militia members who attacked villages in Darfur in 2003 and 2004, as part of a Sudanese government campaign to crush a rebellion in the region.

Kushayb is the first Darfur suspect taken into ICC custody in The Hague. In 2007, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Kushayb, accusing him of 50 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including acts of murder, rape, pillage and torture.

Hope for justice

Kushayb’s arrest has given hope to the thousands of victims of war crimes and their families that justice will be served, said Himmat.

“It is an indication that justice will be done sooner or later," Himmat told VOA. "It will be an encouraging step to chase other ICC-indicted people in Sudan. The surrender of Kushayb will increase public pressure on the transitional government in Sudan to the necessity of handing over the rest of the accused.”

In February, Sudan’s transitional government indicated it was willing to hand over ousted President Omar al-Bashir to the ICC but has yet to do so. Bashir is being held in a Khartoum jail on corruption charges.

Himmat says the handover of Bashir and other former officials accused of war crimes to the ICC is essential to achieve lasting peace in Darfur and would help build trust between the people of Darfur and the transitional government.

Some Sudanese citizens call Kushayb’s detention in The Hague a positive step but say the transitional government should do more.

Khartoum resident Imtinan Arredi says the Sudanese government needs to demonstrate its commitment to ensuring justice for Darfur war crime victims by handing over all indicted individuals to the ICC, including Bashir.

“This is a very serious and responsible step from the ICC that they are serious on implementing their promise to persecute the wanted list," Arredi told South Sudan in Focus. "So our Sudanese government should be more serious in the coming days to cooperate with the ICC and hand over those in detention.”

Call for further measures

Omdurman resident Amin Abdulmajid believes Kushayb’s arrest will relieve some of the pain felt by Darfur war crime victims, including those who were sexually assaulted by Sudanese militia.

"This is a very important step towards achieving lasting peace in the country," Abdulmajid told South Sudan in Focus. "The government should also introduce development projects in the war-affected areas and resolve all issues related to refugees, IDPs [internally displaced persons] and victims of war in Sudan.”

Mohammed Abudurrahman Al Nair, spokesperson for the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement-Abdul Wahid faction, praised the government of the Central African Republic for turning over Kushayb, saying Kushayb’s detention sends the message that those accused of committing war crimes in Darfur will not escape justice.

“The detention of Ali Kushayb has opened a new hope for victims of war, in which they were waiting patiently to see charges are put against those who committed atrocities such as massive massacre, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur in the modern time,” Al Nair told South Sudan in Focus.

The government should turn over to the ICC Bashir and all former officials charged with war crimes, said the rebel leader.