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Suspected War Criminal Denies Involvement of Sudan in Darfur Violence; New Campaign Claims Sudan's Government Is Riddled with War Criminals

For Immediate Release

In a recent interview translated today into English, International Criminal Court (ICC) war crimes suspect and Sudanese Humanitarian Affairs Minister, Ahmad Harun claims any deaths in Darfur were 'mistakes'.

In the interview, Harun characterized the attacks by the Sudanese military and janjaweed in Darfur as "the government assum[ing] its natural position of defending and protecting its citizens." Harun further claimed that there was no "systemic operation to commit any mistakes. Individual mistakes, however, took place… if the military bombed a village by mistake… myself and the Minister of Defense would… compensate them for their losses. It happened in Um Kuzwine, Abu Duma, and Hbila". He denied that there was a contradiction between his current role overseeing aid to the victims in Darfur and his previous role as head of the 'Darfur Security Desk', claiming that in both roles he was "responsible for the safety of civilians."

In Darfur over 200,000 people have died with more than 2.4 million people forced from their homes. In the ICC arrest warrants Ahmad Harun is named as being responsible for over 40 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes including: mass murder, widespread rapes, the burning of a mosque, and the expulsion of over 60,000 people from four towns in West Darfur.

James Smith, Chief Executive of the Aegis Trust, a founding member of the Wanted for War Crimes campaign, of which Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is also a part, said: "After having orchestrated the ultra-violence of 2003 and 2004, Ahmad Harun is now slowing aid deliveries and obstructing peacekeepers – contributing to the deaths in slow motion that we see today in Darfur. It is a grotesque irony that he is now in charge of feeding the victims of his own suspected crimes."

WantedForWarCrimes.Org campaign launched

On the one year anniversary (Feb 27) of the ICC's naming of Ahmad Harun and Ali Kushayb 45 organizations throughout Europe, North America, the Middle East and Africa have launched the Wanted For War Crimes campaign, which calls for the UN Security Council to push for the immediate arrest of the two named suspects, in addition to targeted sanctions, such as freezing assets, on those in Khartoum who continue to harbour them. The Campaign has issued wanted posters and urges members of the public to visit to send a protest email to the UN Security Council.

The UN Commission of Inquiry in the Darfur handed the names of 51 individuals suspected of crimes against humanity. They included ten high-ranking central Government officials, seventeen local Government officials, fourteen members of the Janjaweed, seven members of the different rebel groups and three foreign soldiers. "Every level of the GOS is riddled with accused war criminals," said Frank Donaghue, Chief Executive Officer for PHR, another founding member of the new campaign. "It is critical that the International Criminal Court's investigation follow the chain of command as high as it can go."

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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Kevin Short

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