In this week’s issue: Fighting continues in South Darfur, the UN pushes for talks in Burma, and Rwandan citizens flee eastern Congo by the thousands.
Quote of the Week: "[It would be] like giving birth to a dead rat that is smelling and of no use at all."
— Sudanese ambassador to the United Nations Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem on the impending International Criminal Court (ICC) indictment of Sudanese president Omar el-Bashir. See below for more information on the controversy surrounding the ICC.
Bombings by the Sudanese government continued around the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)-held town of Muhajariya for the second week, causing 30,000 to flee. JEM offered to pull out on Tuesday in consideration of the safety of civilians, as long as the town remained under UNAMID control. Despite international criticism, the Sudanese government rejected this last condition and occupied the ravaged town. JEM countered by threatening to re-take the town.
The indictment by the International Criminal Court to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes is expected this week. Bashir continues to receive support from Arab, Islamic, and African leaders, and from China.
The Obama administration came out publicly in support of the ICC indictment this week. In an interview with the Washington Post, Ambassador Susan Rice, the U.S. representative to the United Nations, indicated that she plans to continue engagement with the government of Sudan in its new role as the head of the G-77 group of developing nations, while continuing pressure on the government regarding the situation in Darfur.
STAND students from George Washington University protested at the U.S. State Department on Friday, urging the U.S. government to take stronger action to address the escalating violence in Darfur.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called upon the military junta in Burma to begin talks with National League for Democracy (NLD) opposition without precondition, something that the NLD has been attempting for years.
Indonesia has rescued about 400 of about 1,000 Rohingya (Burmese Muslims) that Thailand towed out to sea. The Thai government recently rejected 1,000 Rohingya seeking asylum from Burma, a country that denies their existence within its boarders. Indonesia has criticized the Thai government for the rejection of the refugees.
The rebel Shan State Army has promised to oppose the 2010 popular election in Burma claiming that the process is not democratic. The promise sparks much speculation that the 2010 election will lead to civil war.
Democratic Republic of Congo
On Tuesday, members of the Tutsi CNDP rebel group asked the Congolese government to grant them amnesty for acts carried out during recent fighting in North Kivu province. This comes weeks after CNDP commander Bosco Ntaganda signed a peace deal with the government.
A growing number of Rwandan citizens living in eastern DRC are seeking to be repatriated to Rwanda, apparently to escape a joint Rwanda/DRC military operation aimed at capturing the extremist Hutu FDLR militia. Over 1,400 Rwandans have moved across the border since the operation began.
Several weeks into the Rwanda/DRC operation to track down the FDLR, MONUC, the UN mission in DRC, is apparently attempting to investigate possible violations against civilians. Human rights groups haveexpressed concern about violence against civilians by Rwandan/Congolese troops and the potential for reprisal killings by rebels.
Doctors Without Borders accused MONUC of failing to protect civilians from Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in northern DRC, a charge that the UN has denied. Meanwhile, it appears that a top LRA officer may have offered to surrender to Ugandan forces. This week, the New York Times reported on the United States’ role in coordinating the Uganda-led mission aimed at capturing LRA leader Joseph Kony.