The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) welcomed and supported the UN utterances and actions towards the developments in Darfur, Sudan. Ten years after the genocide in Rwanda, the UN Secretary General, Mr. Kofi Anan expressed his “grave concern” over reported human rights abuses in Darfur, citing a recent warning by the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator against “ethnic cleansing” in the area. He confirmed that the ‘international community would not stand idle’. He proposed sending a high-level team to Darfur to handle the crisis, and to seek better access to those in need of help and protection. “It is vital that international humanitarian workers and human rights experts be given full access to the region and to the victims, without further delay,” he said. “If that is denied, the international community must be prepared to take swift and appropriate action,” he warned.
It is worth-mentioning that the First Arab Civil Forum which was organized by CIHRS in cooperation with other four Arab and International NGOs and the participation of 52 Arab NGOs and a number of international observers has addressed the deteriorating situation in Darfur in the context of demands for reform in the Arab region. The meeting that took place in Beirut between 19 and 22 March 2004 and which was supported by the EC adopted the document entitled: ‘Second Independence: Towards an Initiative for Political Reform in the Arab World”. This document has been sent to all Arab Presidents and Kings including President Omar El Bashier through his Ambassador to Cairo. (For the full text of the document see: www.cihrs.org).
Although the Forum has welcomed the progress achieved in the peace process in Sudan, it underlined the fact that any peace agreement without peaceful settlement of the current conflict in Darfur and the tension in East of Sudan would be a mere temporary solution for the crisis of the nation-state building in Sudan and the problems of stability, development and respect for human rights. The Forum regretfully took note of the continuing deterioration of the situation in Darfur, the death toll, IDPs and refugees as well as starving population amount to tens of thousands of innocent citizens. Moreover, those who remain in their villages suffer from shortage in security, food and services.
Accordingly, the Forum called upon the Sudanese government to undertake its full responsibility in protecting the civilians in Darfur from the pre-meditated and capricious attacks. It should ensure freedom of the flow of human relief assistance for those who need it without any kind of discrimination and ban the access of the proponent paramilitary groups to arms. The armed forces should abide by the relevant international humanitarian laws. The government should promptly release all the intellectuals and activists detained during the war or bring them to fair trial with definite charges. The government and the opposition militant groups in the East of Sudan, particularly in Darfur, should respect the International Humanitarian Law and the Human Rights Law. They should not jeopardize the lives of civilians under whatsoever circumstances and safeguard the freedom of the works of relief in the areas under their control. The forum appealed to the international and regional organizations as well as international powers and all the parties mediating in the conflict to work for ensuring cease-fire. Respect for Human Rights should be the basis of any potential peace process, including judgment of the perpetrators of violations during the conflict and compensating the victims. The calls of human rights organizations to form a team work to observe the situation in Darfur should be backed, allowing the freedom of collecting information, interviewing victims and officials and proclaiming the outcomes to the Sudanese and international public opinion.
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