POST TIME: 20 April, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Bring ‘criminal Bashir’ to justice, say Darfur victims
AFP, Nyala

Bring ‘criminal Bashir’ to justice, say Darfur victims

Members of a south Sudanese family are pictured in Kalma camp outside South Darfur state capital Nyala, on Thursday. A brutal conflict broke out in Sudan's western region of Darfur in 2003, when ethnic black rebels picked up arms against Khartoum's Arab-dominated government of Bashir, accusing it of economic and social marginalisation. AFP PHOTO

Hawwa Yousef is still haunted by memories of the day when mounted gunmen swept through her village in Sudan's Darfur region in 2004, killing scores of villagers including her son.

Then president Omar al-Bashir unleashed the notorious Janjaweed militia on ethnic minority villages like hers in a scorched earth campaign to eradicate support for rebels who took up arms the previous year.

Now that Bashir is behind bars in a Khartoum prison after being toppled by the army last week, Yousef is determined to see him face justice.

"The regime's militia attacked when women were collecting water for their families and livestock," said the 70-year-old, who still lives in a relocation camp.

"The villagers tried to chase the armed men but they killed eight villagers including my son," she told AFP in the sprawling Kalma camp outside South Darfur state capital Nyala.

"I want Bashir to face justice. He is a criminal."

A decade and a half on, hundreds of thousands of Darfuris who lost loved ones, homes and livelihoods in the brutal campaign of repression ordered by Bashir and his aides, still live in miserable conditions in camps.

Some 300,000 people were killed as the feared tribal militia, who covered vast distances on horseback or camels, eliminated anybody suspected of providing support for the rebels.

Some 2.5 million people were crammed into makeshift relocation camps as the militia depopulated vast swathes of Darfur, a region the size of France, torching villages and crops and stealing or killing livestock.