Tyranny has its limits

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Finally the Sudanese authorities have decided to deliver president Omar al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court. Bashir, who was deposed in April 2019 following mass protests, has for the past decade flouted International Criminal Court arrest warrants on charges of genocide and war crimes in the ravaged Darfur region of western Sudan. Once a very strong man in Sudan, Bashir has done everything in the dirty books which put him in the same league as history’s notorious killers – Pol Pot, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Benito Mussolini …. He is accused of war crimes in the Sudanese conflict which according to the United Nations has left 300,000 people dead and displaced 2.5 million others.

On Tuesday, Sudan’s transitional authorities agreed to transfer him to stand trial before the court based in The Hague. Rejoicing over the development, hundreds of thousands of Sudanese people, most of them internally displaced and still living in the camps on aid provided by the UN and other international organizations, say the decision was “a victory for the victims” and would go a long way towards “rebuilding trust” with the leadership in Khartoum.

The conflict erupted when African minority rebels rose up against Bashir’s Arab-dominated government in Khartoum that they accused of marginalising the region. To crush the rebellion, Bashir’s government unleashed an armed militia known as the Janjaweed, accused by rights groups of ethnic cleansing and widespread rape. He was removed from power after street protests against his rule broke out in December 2018 triggering unrest that left dozens dead, hundreds wounded and thousands jailed.

Rights groups such as Amnesty International have been pressing for a swift handover of the toppled strongman. The decision to surrender Bashir to the ICC came after protracted talks between rebel groups including from Darfur and Sudan’s ruling body who took power after Bashir’s ouster and arrest. Three of his aides, including former defence and interior ministers, are also to be handed over to the court, although a timeframe has not been announced.

Since its creation in August last year, Sudan’s transitional government has been pushing to forge a peace settlement with rebel groups and to end conflicts across the country. It has promised accountability and kept Bashir in Khartoum’s Kober prison on a string of charges including corruption. Though it remains to be seen how and when Bashir will be handed over to ICC and how this court based in The Hague will finally decide his fate, however, the recent developments are nevertheless another eye-opener testifying that even the tyranny and repression, human rights abuses, poverty and turmoil associated with it has its limits, and cannot go on forever. Such regimes which are often built around an individual who has established a personality cult, a single governmental party or a military-run oligarchy, or all of these together, may seem overwhelming at times of their heydays, but then history stands witness that they do not last for long. Sudanese case is the latest to point to this impermanence, and indeed a heart-warming development for all those who are still facing tyranny and democide at the hand of similarly composed and placed regimes.

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