Sudan (MNN) — Sudan earned a reputation as an oppressive, bloodthirsty nation under former president Omar al-Bashir. Even after his 2019 removal, Bashir remains a key part of the “new” Sudan’s future.
“We’re talking about probably the most brutal dictator in the lifetime of many of your listeners… over 300,000 people dying…over 2 million people being displaced, and all of that blood is on that guy’s hands,” World Mission’s Greg Kelley explains.
“For the process of healing to begin, Omar al-Bashir needs to be held accountable.”
What did Bashir do?
As summarized here, Bashir squelched a 2003 rebel uprising in Darfur with excessive force. Arab militia known as the Janjaweed went on a villainous spree, killing between 300,000 and a half-million people and displacing more than two million more.
“God’s heart is…an expression of unity, of oneness [among nations], worshiping our Creator. The absolute opposite of that is genocide, ethnic cleansing; targeting people groups or nations,” Kelley explains.
“That’s what Omar al Bashir did, and the non-Arab population was his target. His agenda was complete annihilation and removal.”
Obliteration does not sufficiently describe Bashir’s intent.
“[He] was trying to systematically impose psychological warfare on the people that would stay with them for generations,” Kelley says. “He did it [in] some of the most atrocious ways imaginable… burning villages to the ground, killing men, raping women.”
What’s happening now?
Following his ouster, Sudanese officials arrested Omar al-Bashir and detained him in Khartoum. Last week, Sudan’s transitional government made history by agreeing Bashir should stand before the International Criminal Court, or ICC. When Bashir was in power, his regime wouldn’t even consider heeding the ICC’s 2009-2010 arrest warrants.
Whether or not Bashir faces trial in the International Criminal Court remains to be seen. However, he was questioned by the Attorney General earlier this week about his support of international terror groups.
“You’re talking about someone who’s in his late 70s. Putting him away for whatever the rest of his life looks like, that’s the beginning of it (justice),” Kelley says. “[There are] very few individuals, particularly in the south, [whose] family has not been affected” by Bashir’s violence.
Since Bashir’s influence reaches across the spectrum of government, he explains, the risk of new violence lingers as long as those connections remain in power.
“The Sudanese leadership needs to stand up and say, ‘We will never allow ethnic cleansing to happen on our watch again’.”
How to help
World Mission is supporting Sudanese believers through the healing process, and you can, too. “There’s a lot of people that love Jesus in this part of the world, but they haven’t been properly equipped,” Kelley explains.
“We can really step into that void because how are you going to make disciples if you don’t have discipleship makers?”
Many people in Sudan, South Sudan, and neighboring countries are oral learners, Kelley adds. By regularly sending solar-powered audio Bibles to partners in the region, World Mission supports the work of indigenous believers. Help send a Treasure here.
Header image depicts then-President Omar al-Bashir seated at the signing of a Darfur peace agreement in Qatar. Photo credit UNAMID via Flickr.