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Letter from Darfuri Women to the African Union and Arab League

28 Women Who Fled from the Darfur Conflict Welcome the ICC Warrant for al-Bashir

Today the International Criminal Court has issued a warrant for the arrest of General Omar al-Bashir. We, as survivors of the conflict in Darfur, ask you to support the process of international justice, to ensure that our people will see an end to impunity, and finally, peace.

In our homeland of Darfur, war has raged for over five years, ruining the lives of our people. Hundreds of thousands are dead and millions more are barely living, confined to camps, stripped of their homes, livelihoods, and human dignity.

Each of them is the victim of our homeland's tragedy. But many are also the victims of direct, personal crimes. The most vulnerable among us, women and children, have often paid the greatest price. Each of us has her own story, and each story should be acknowledged, each crime we have suffered from accounted for.

The 25-year-old woman who was raped in front of her two children by a man carrying a gun. Badly beaten, she lay on the side of the road for nine days. She was too scared to tell her husband. The 17-year-old who was chased down, bitten on her arm and neck to mark her as compromised, and then raped by a man in uniform. The woman who, seven-months-pregnant, was robbed, beaten, and gang-raped along with her six companions. They were hoping to gather firewood to earn money to feed their families. They returned to their camp naked and brutalised.

In this conflict, rape is used deliberately as a weapon. It is intended to demoralise a community, stigmatise its women, and sabotage the tribal line. Homes can be rebuilt, but the social, psychological and emotional wounds inflicted by this violence will never heal.

We hope that peace will come someday soon to Darfur, that the conflict which has destroyed so many lives, caused so much suffering and allowed so many crimes, will be brought to an end. But we know that we cannot return to peace without accounting for what has been done. The women and children of Darfur deserve justice, they deserve the chance to hold those responsible to account, they deserve to be treated, at last, with dignity.

The international community recognized the need to account for these crimes when the UN Security Council referred the case of Darfur to the International Criminal Court. The court has worked slowly but continuously to find those responsible for the crimes in Darfur, even when it found that responsibility lay at the highest level - our president, Omar al-Bashir. The arrest warrant that the court has issued against President al-Bashir is not the first in this case, and will not be the last, but it is the one that has shown that no one is above justice, and that no one can be responsible for killing and dehumanizing so many without consequence. Now, at last, the victims of crimes against humanity in Darfur recognize that justice will come. Justice, and with it dignity, which will help us build the foundations for reconciliation and lasting peace.

As women of Darfur, we are grateful that our sisters are not forgotten. We are grateful that their stories are heard, their suffering accounted for, their rights acknowledged. We urge the international community to continue to support the pursuit of justice for the victims of Darfur. With justice we will build the road back to peace.

Yours sincerely,

Nejwa Gabir Ahmed
Tharayd Salbo
Muzdaisa Adam
Maryam Aldai
Fatima Yousif
Aloyha Mohammed
Ebtisam Ghazi Ismail
Huda Ishak
Kousa Ismail Ali
Suad Ismail Ali
Zakia Abdella
Hajer Ibrahim Khalif
Khadija Mahadi Khalif
Aziza Hamid Abdalla
Ihtisam Abdelrahman Mahmoud
Zubaida Ahmed Ibrahim
Khadija Adam Hassan
Suad Sherif
Suad Abdelrahman
Ihtisam Ali
Mohassim Adam
Awasif Abdallah
Hasna Ali
Batoul Mohammed
Mariam Abdullah
Abir Mohammed Ahmed
Inam Babikir
Amira Ahmed

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