Sudan (MNN) — A decision made during peace talks earlier this week means, theoretically, Sudan’s deposed dictator will face the International Criminal Court on genocide charges. No one knows whether this monumental transfer will happen or not.
A member of the ruling council told reporters “authorities in Khartoum had agreed to send to the International Criminal Court all those who had an arrest warrant against them, so that would include the former president, Omar al Bashir,” Middle East Concern’s Daniel Hoffman says.
“If that [happens], that will be very big; it will be enormous.”
Bashir drama: what’s next?
The ICC issued warrants for Bashir’s arrest in 2009 and 2010, BBC News reports. He was the first sitting president to receive ICC warrants, and – prior to Bashir’s ouster – Sudan’s government refused to hand him over:
Non-cooperation has prevented the ICC from executing arrest warrants for senior figures in the Sudanese government, including former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who has sought to undermine the Court through the African Union.
If transferred to the ICC, Bashir would stand trial for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide connected to the ongoing Darfur conflict. More about that here. However, “nobody really expects that the military would agree to that (handover), partly because it may open the prospect of some of them being charged… with the same crimes,” Hoffman explains.
“Some of them, including the Vice President of the Council, [were] very much involved in those kinds of atrocities.”
While it’s a positive development, Bashir’s potential transfer isn’t the only noteworthy change in Sudan.
As described here, Sudan was known for years “as the world’s most violent abuser of the right to freedom of religion and belief.” More about persecution in Sudan here. Pressure began to lift last April with Bashir’s ouster.
In December, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok met with USCIRF officials; it was the first time a Sudanese government leader visited the U.S. in 30 years. Members of the transitional government visited one of Khartoum’s larger Christian churches at Christmastime, and they even designated Christmas as a national holiday.
“The Minister for Religious Affairs recognized that, in the past, Christians had been persecuted by the previous regime and apologized for that, and said they want to rectify some of the abuses,” Hoffman says.
“The transitional government has made a lot of statements [about how] they want to improve the situation for religious minorities, including the Christian communities,” Hoffman continues.
However, “some of the larger issues, especially revolving around properties that were confiscated by the previous regime… are still ongoing.”
How to pray
Now that you know, how will you respond? “The most important thing they can do is continue to pray for the country of Sudan,” Hoffman notes.
Pray authorities will move toward an “open and democratic government… governed by the rule of law [with] human rights for everyone,” he requests. Ask the Lord for progress in cases involving church property confiscated by the government.
“Pray for the Church in Sudan as well, that they will … seek to be a force for good for the whole country, and a living testimony to Jesus Christ.”
Header image depicts Sudan’s former president, Omar al Bashir. Photo courtesy of Voice of the Martyrs.