International Justice/ICC: Mar ‘09

IWPR-trained journalist gathers Darfuris’ reactions to Al-Bashir indictment.

International Justice/ICC: Mar ‘09

IWPR-trained journalist gathers Darfuris’ reactions to Al-Bashir indictment.

Wednesday, 22 April, 2009
For Darfuri journalists like IWPR-trained Tajeldin Abdhalla Adam, the March 4 press conference announcing Omar al-Bashir had been indicted for war crimes was more than just a news story. “It was indeed a momentous and monumental day for me,” said Adam.

Journalists from around the world had flocked to the media briefing in The Hague to hear that the International Criminal Court, ICC, had charged Al-Bashir with war crimes and crimes against the civilian population.

The indictment came after eight long months of speculation, which first began when the ICC prosecutor handed evidence against the Sudanese president to ICC judges and requested that they issue an arrest warrant.

“I was in Darfur when the violence erupted and witnessed the atrocities myself. I saw villages being burned and their inhabitants gunned down by militias,” he said.

“I talked to those who fled to the town of Algenena, the regional capital of west Darfur. I remember authorities in the town had to shut down schools and send kids home to provide temporary shelters for newcomers [fleeing the violence].

“The majority of them were women, children and elderly people. So, being part of the story in that way helps me to understand better why Darfur victims have enthusiastically welcomed the indictment of Al-Bashir.”

Adam worked in cooperation with IWPR to produce stories covering the reactions of ordinary Darfuris to the indictment.

“It was incredible – these people want to know every single detail concerning the indictment,” he said.

“They ask questions such as, ‘What will the next step be?’, ‘When they are going to arrest him so that we return home safely?’ and ‘Why is genocide not included [in the indictment]’?”

The journalist said that IWPR’s coverage of Al-Bashir’s indictment was key to helping the international community to understand what Darfuris want and how they feel.

“When they talk to IWPR [journalists], Darfuris know that they are talking to the international community, and that this is one of the platforms they can use to make their voices heard,” he said.

“That is why [when they are interviewed] they mostly start talking by saying, ‘We thank the international community,’ or ‘We want, need, ask the UN, the international community…’

“There are readers who contacted me and expressed gratitude to IWPR, [saying] they are impressed by the stories they read.”
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