Petition Calling on President Barack Obama, Secretary State of John Kerry, and Members of Congress, to Provide Sudanese President Omar al Bashir with a Visa to Travel to the United States, and to Arrest Him Upon His Arrival and Deliver Him to the International Criminal Court
September 25, 2013
To: President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Members of Congress
From: Scholars of Genocide Across the Globe
September 26, 2013 (SSNA) — We, scholars of genocide across the globe, call on the United States Government to provide Sudanese President Omar al Bashir a visa to fly to the United States and then upon his arrival to immediately arrest him and deliver him to the International Criminal Court (ICC), where he is wanted on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes for atrocities allegedly perpetrated in Darfur, Sudan.
The arrest of al Bashir is the right thing to do, and that is true for at least three major reasons: first, it was the United States Government, out of all the governments in the world, that declared, on September 9, 2004, that Sudan had perpetrated genocide in Darfur; second, under Article I of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, those nations that ratify the UNCG (as the United States did in 1988 during Ronald Reagan’s presidency) “…confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish”; and third, on September 18, 2013, the International Criminal Court, itself, called on the United States to arrest al Bashir so that he can stand trial at the ICC.
We appreciate that the United States Government believes it faces a series of quandaries in regard to the issue of arresting al Bashir: first, as the host of the United Nations, the U.S. is expected to allow leaders of sovereign nations to land on its territory and then proceed, untouched and hassle free, to the UN; second, the U.S. is not a signatory of the Rome Statute that established the ICC; and third, in the past the U.S. has allowed a host of undesirables touch down on U.S. territory and proceed apace to the UN, including but not limited to: Castro, Gaddafi, Chavez, and Ahmadinejad.
Our respectful responses to the aforementioned concerns are as follows: First, the crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity are so grievous that this unusual situation calls for a precedent, and that is the arrest of al Bashir, even though he is landing on U.S. soil for the express purpose of attending the UN General Assembly. Second, despite the fact that other actors of questionable character who carried out questionable, if not despicable actions, were allowed to visit the UN without incident, by arresting al Bashir and transporting him to the ICC, the United States will be honoring the promise it made when it ratified the UNCG — that is, it would be contribute to holding alleged genocidaires responsible for their actions. Granted, a trial has to be held to make the determination whether al Bashir is, in fact, guilty of genocide, but the only way that determination can be made and punishment meted out, if he is in fact found guilty, is for a trial to take place.
Year after year, presidents of our nation take part in the commemoration of the Holocaust, and in doing so, they, invariably, make the promise of “Never Again.” One way of attempting to prevent future genocides is for the world to send an unambiguous and strong message that alleged genocidaires will be arrested and tried for their alleged crimes. Period. That, and only that, is the way to halt the impunity that so many genocidaires count on.
Furthermore, we urge you President Obama to honor the words you spoke just a year and a half ago at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum during the commemoration of the Holocaust: “With the arrest of fugitives like Ratko Mladic, charged with ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, the world sent a message to war criminals everywhere: We will not relent in bringing you to justice. Be on notice.” Likewise, we hope both, you, Secretary of State Kerry, and you, Members of Congress will support the president as he honors that promise cum threat.
If the United States Government allows al Bashir to land on U.S. soil, no matter that his plan is to attend the UN General Assembly, it will be a stain on our national conscious that will never, ever be erased.
In conclusion, we petition you in the hope that the United States will stand up and do the right thing and end the impunity that Omar al Bashir has enjoyed ever since his indictment by the ICC.