Wanted war criminal and Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir continues to ratchet up a campaign of violence and humanitarian assault that, if left unchecked, could one day equal his achievement in Darfur. His latest attacks included bombing villages in South Sudan, targeting refugees and creating conditions that could lead to armed conflict with the newly independent nation.
In the past six months, Bashir has driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes in Sudan's Abyei, South Kordofan and Blue Nile regions. Sudanese Armed Forces and allied militias have gone door to door, targeting people based on their religion, ethnicity and political affiliation. They've bombed and looted churches, terrorized families with air raids, entered homes and summarily executed entire families. Bashir's forces disrupted cultivation in South Kordofan to the extent that humanitarian organizations warn of an impending food crisis of tremendous proportions.
Bashir's troops have driven 300,000 men, women and children from their homes in the past six months. Those who fled to South Sudan for safety in refugee camps arrived only to be targeted once again by Bashir's recent cross-border attacks.
The White House has voiced boilerplate condemnations of Bashir's attacks in recent days. The problem is, President Obama and Secretary Clinton have consistently failed to take strong measures that might actually impede if not stop this killer outright. The administration must reverse course now, replace tepid talk of stalled normalization with clear condemnation and action. Effete protestations and diplomatic carrots are no longer acceptable.
Madame Secretary, it is time for you to expand sanctions on individuals responsible for atrocities not only in Darfur but all of Sudan. Anyone who commits heinous crimes must be held accountable regardless of where in Sudan these atrocities take place.
And if you are truly committed to stopping Bashir's campaign of atrocities, you must lead the UN Security Council to pass a resolution that will:
- Demand access for humanitarian groups to provide aid to civilians in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur;
- Send a peacekeeping force to South Kordofan and Blue Nile that includes human rights monitoring as well as the appropriate resources and mandate necessary to protect civilians;
- Expand the arms embargo on Darfur to all of Sudan;
- Demand an independent international investigation into crimes committed against civilians in Abyei, Blue Nile, and South Kordofan, preferably through the International Criminal Court; and
- Expand sanctions so all individuals responsible for attacks on civilians are held accountable.