|Omar al-Bashir circa 2009|
Omar al-Bashir is the current president of the African country of Sudan. He has been the president through the end of the Sudanese civil war and the entirety of the Darfur conflict. Omar al-Bashir is suspected of precipitating war crimes in Darfur, Sudan, including genocide.
Omar al-Bashir was born on January 1, 1944 in Sudan. He came from a simple farming family. He attended school in the area in which he was raised. Later, he moved to the capital of Sudan-Khartoum-and attended the national military academy there. He later attended the national military academy in Cairo, Egypt. He then went on to fight with the Egyptian Army in the Arab-Israeli War. He was a paratrooper from 1969-1987. He also fought against the Sudan Liberation Army in the Sudan civil war.
By 1989, Omar al-Bashir was a colonel in the Sudanese Army. That year, he led a successful coup d'etat against the Sudanese government. In 1993, he named himself President of Sudan. Elections were held three years later and he won. He has won every election since.
When Omar al-Bashir became President of Sudan, the country was ripped apart by civil war. It took Omar more than 10 years to end the conflict. However, by that time, a major conflict in Darfur had been raging for two years. This conflict arose when rebel groups in Darfur, namely JEM (Justice and Equality Movement) and DLA (Darfur Liberation Army) began fighting the government. These rebels felt that they were being marginalized by the government of Sudan. In other words, they felt they were not being given the same rights and governmental power as the rest of Sudan. They were probably right. Omar al-Bashir responded by sending the Sudanese army to Darfur. He may have sent something else as well.
Before the current Darfur conflict, nomadic Arab tribes and the other "black" tribes of Darfur would fight over land and resources from time to time. There was nothing on the scale of the latest conflict. Nevertheless, when Omar al-Bashir sent his troops into Darfur, a terror known as the Janjaweed emerged. The Janjaweed are primarily Darfurians of Arab descent. When the conflict began, the Janjaweed had weapons all of a sudden and were launching what can only be called terrorist attacks on the people of Darfur. They have most certainly been raping, stealing and burning down the villages of civilians in Darfur. The atrocities are too many to describe here. Omar al-Bashir claims that he and his government have nothing to do with these atrocities.
To all appearances, it seems as if the government of Sudan is supplying the Janjaweed with the weapons and permissions they need to commit genocide on the people of Darfur. Omar al-Bashir refuses to admit it, though it is rather suspicious that his army is not stopping these attacks on the citizens of Sudan. These citizens have been starved, raped and driven from their homes. Some live in refugee camps in bordering countries. Some live in camps in Darfur. More than 2 million people are displaced and an estimated 300,000 are dead.
In 2009, the International Criminals Court issued an arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir for two counts of war crimes and five counts of crimes against humanity. He has not been arrested. On July 12, 2010, another warrant was issued. This new warrant included a count of genocide. The first warrant is still in place. Of course, like any court, the ICC will have to arrest Omar al-Bashir and prove he is guilty before they are able to punish him. Nonetheless, this warrant should set an example to the international community. War crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity should not be tolerated, no matter who commits them. Omar al-Bashir is the first sitting head of state to have a warrant for such crimes issued against him.
Darfur: ICC Charges Sudanese President with Genocide, retrieved 8/1/10, darfurpeace.org/darfur-icc-charges-sudanese-president-with-genocide
Profile: Omar al-Bashir, retrieved 8/1/10, guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jul/14/sudan.warcrimes