Time tends to move slowly in Darfur:
From the earliest days of the genocide, Ali Kushayb could be seen leading and directing groups of Janjaweed militias as they swept across the desert, destroying countless Darfuri villages and Darfuri lives in their wake. According to Human Rights Watch, Kushayb "was one of the key leaders responsible for attacks on villages around Mukjar, Bindisi, and Garsila in 2003-2004 in West Darfur".
It was over a year ago that Ali Kushayb was indicted by the International Criminal Court at the Hague for massive crimes in Darfur, along with Ahmed Haroun, Sudan’s Minister for Humanitarian Affairs. The Government of Sudan immediately refused to turn him in, on the grounds that they don’t recognize the International Criminal Court. The Government of Sudan halfheartedly tried to put him through trial in 2007 and ended up letting him go ""due to lack of incriminating evidence against him".
It was several months ago that the International Criminal Court reached higher and its Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo made his case for the arrest of Omar al-Bashir, the President of Sudan. This brought the unresolved indictment of Ali Kushayb back to the international stage, and was even thrown around as a bargaining chip in negotiations.
It was just a few days ago that the Sudanese Government announced that it had Kushayb in its custody for a trial for crimes committed in Darfur. While many speculate about what the exact cause of this move by the Government of Sudan is, many see the increased pressure around the ICC cases to be the root cause.
While this has the potential to be a great victory for justice in Darfur, it really presents a set of new challenges to the movement: we must pay close attention to ensure Ali Kushayb is not simply tried halfheartedly in a Sudanese court and served some travesty of justice. We need to ensure it doesn’t serve as a reason to forget about the accusations standing against Ahmed Haroun, Omar al-Bashir, and many others.
And above all else, we must work to ensure that time does not continue to move so slowly in Darfur: for in the time between Kushayb’s indictment and his arrest, the security situation on the ground has worsened, lives have been lost, and opportunities for peace have been forgotten.
The waiting game must end.
-Sabina Carlson, Education Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org