WASHINGTON–The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Wednesday welcomed the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) decision to issue an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for crimes against humanity and war crimes, while at the same time warning about Turkey’s likely efforts to obstruct efforts to bring him to justice.
"The ICC decision to issue a warrant for Sudan’s Omar Hassan al-Bashir sends a clear message to genocide perpetrators and deniers that crimes against humanity will be prosecuted and punished," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "We look forward to swift action to bring him to justice and call upon the international community to forcefully stand up against those countries, such as Turkey, that appear set to obstruct this landmark legal effort to end the cycle of genocide."
Last week, the ANCA circulated three policy memos to Capitol Hill offices, outlining for legislators how the Turkey-Sudan "axis of genocide" relationship is materially undermining international efforts to isolate Khartoum and end its genocide against the people of Darfur.
The ICC issued its arrest warrant Wednesday, citing five charges of crimes against humanity and two of war crimes including murder, extermination, torture and rape. ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo noted, "the reality now is that Omar al-Bashir is attacking his own citizens who he is supposed to protect as leader of the country. The solution for Sudan has to start with arresting Omar al-Bashir."
Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper was quick to report that "Diplomatic sources said Turkey is likely to push for a delay in the implementation of the arrest warrant in the Security Council." Just days earlier, the ruling AK Party sympathetic Today’s Zaman newspaper noted that Turkey was weighing its options regarding Sudan, given recent African support for Turkey’s elections as a temporary member of the U.N. Security Council. In return for support in winning this seat, Turkish President Abdullah Gul vowed to be the "voice of Africa" in the international body.
Meanwhile, U.S. reaction to the ICC arrest warrant for President al-Bashir was largely supportive, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stating that "Governmen’s and individuals who either conduct or condone atrocities of any kind, as we have seen year after year in Sudan, have to be held accountable."
Across the United States, Darfuri human rights groups this week planned rallies welcoming the ICC decision. Speaking at an event in New York City earlier today organized by the Darfur Rehabilitation Project, ANCA Eastern Region Executive Director Karine Birazian pointed to counter-protesters, stating, "Look across the street ‘s those are the faces of genocide denial. Just as we cannot allow Turkish government denial to impede international Armenian Genocide recognition, we must not allow al-Bashir and his cronies to stop us from taking decisive action to end the atrocities in Darfur."
Birazian continued, noting the importance of vigilance in the face of genocide denial. "Here in America, we have the choice to speak out against genocide. The people of Darfur can be raped or killed for simply collecting firewood — much less speaking out to stop the violence. In Turkey, you can be prosecuted, jailed, or –in the case of Hrant Dink — killed for speaking the truth about the Armenian Genocide. That makes our role all the more imperative — to speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves."
The New York Darfuri rally ended in violence, as genocide deniers attacked participants, ending in arrests by New York City police.