Darfur: Bashir accepts responsibility By Simon Tisdall - Friday 22nd April 2011

PRESIDENT Omar al-Bashir of Sudan has said for the first time that he accepts full personal responsibility for the mass slaughter in Darfur that left tens of thousands of people dead.
But in an exclusive interview with the , his first with a western news organisation since he was charged with genocide by the international criminal court (ICC), Bashir accuses the UN-backed court of “double standards” and conducting a “campaign of lies”.
Britain and other western countries were pursuing a politically motivated vendetta against him with the ultimate aim of forcing regime change in Sudan as well as in neighbouring Libya, he said.
“Of course, I am the president so I am responsible about everything happening in the country,” Bashir said when asked about the conflict in Darfur, in western Sudan, where fighting is continuing despite international peace efforts.
“Everything happening, it is a responsibility. But what happened in Darfur, first of all, it was a traditional conflict taking place from the colonial days.
“As a government we fought the ones who were carrying arms against the state, but also some of the insurgents attacked some tribes … so we had human losses. But it is not close to the numbers being mentioned in the western media, these numbers are in fact being exaggerated for a reason,” he said. “It is a duty for the government to fight the insurgents, but we did not fight the people of Darfur.”
The UN estimates up to 300,000 people died and about 2.7 million were internally displaced as a result of fighting between government forces and their Janjaweed militia allies and the separatist rebel groups in Darfur that peaked in 2003-4. Sudan`s government says about 10,000 people died and about 70,000 were displaced. An international outcry prompted a UN investigation that led the Security Council to refer the case to the ICC in 2005. In March 2009 Bashir became the first serving head of state to be indicted by the ICC, on seven counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Three counts of genocide were added in July last year, accusing Bashir in his capacity as president and commander-in-chief of the Sudanese armed forces. Bashir denies all the charges and has refused to surrender to the court.
John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project, a leading anti-genocide pressure group based in Washington, dismissed Bashir`s justification of his policy in Darfur. “In my eight trips to Darfur since 2003, the overwhelming evidence demonstrates that a government-sponsored counter-insurgency targeted non-Arab civilian populations by destroying their dwellings, their food stocks, their livestock, their water sources and anything else that would sustain life in Darfur,” Prendergast said.
“Three million people have been rendered homeless as a direct result of government policy, not tribal fighting or global warming.” The ICC describes the arrest warrant as “pending” but Bashir said the case against him was wholly political.
Sudan was not a party to the ICC treaty and could not be expected to abide by its provisions, he said. This was also the case with the US, China and Russia. —The Guardian, London

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/22/darfur-bashir-accepts-responsibility.html

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