This blog was written for us by Abdallah Idriss Abugarda in his capacity as leader of the Darfur Diaspora Association, and as the final in our series marking Darfur20, or the 20th anniversary of the internationally recognised start of the Darfur genocide.
My name is Abdallah Idriss Abugarda. I am a survivor of the 2003 Darfur genocide. I currently lead the Darfur Diaspora Association (DDA) in the United Kingdom, and I am also the general secretary of the Zaghawa community association in the UK. I hold a Bachelor’s degree with honours in Mechanical Engineering from Coventry University. My academic journey continued with an MSc in International Business Management from De Montfort University in Leicester, where my dissertation focused on the critical issue of leadership deficiencies in Africa, specifically examining a case study within Sudan’s Health Ministry. This research opportunity equipped me with the skills that enabled me to unite Darfuri communities in the UK under one umbrella, forming the DDA. DDA represents a large numbers of Darfuri community associations in the UK, that make up the population of Darfur region who were victims of the genocide committed by the Janjaweed, backed by the previous Sudanese government. We aim to ensure justice prevails, and that there is an end to impunity for the crimes that have been committed in Darfur since 2003. And we are also calling for a collective commitment to the campaign of ‘never again’, to not allow genocide to occur anywhere in the world.
Our efforts led to attention being brought to the Darfur case, culminating in a visit to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and meetings with officials of the Court in The Hague premises on Monday 21 August 2023. The delegation raised atrocities perpetrated by the Janjaweed, now known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), and its affiliates across Darfur, especially in west Darfur. The delegation was assured by the ICC that the prosecutor will investigate crimes committed in West Darfur since the conflict intensified on 15 April 2023. Matters raised with ICC officials include the significant barriers to accountability for crimes being committed in Darfur, and DDA raised a question about why Al-Bashir and other perpetrators have not yet been brought to justice. The delegation also raised the ongoing Ali Kushayb case with prosecutors.
DDA would like to thank Waging Peace for providing training in leadership to 15 members of our executive committee [see pictures and a short description on the Waging Peace Facebook page here, and on Instagram here]. Our gratitude also extends to The Wiener Holocaust Library for opening its doors to allow us to visit the Library where Darfur children’s drawings are displayed. This visit helped us gain more insight into the Holocaust genocide.
The DDA delegation participated in a discussion alongside officials from the ICC as part of a joint event by The Wiener Holocaust Library and Waging Peace, marking 20 years since the start of the genocide in Darfur, and renewed violence across Sudan in 2023 [see event flyer here]. During the event, we discussed the ongoing impact of ethnic cleansing and war in Darfur. Additionally, we explored the possibility of achieving justice and accountability for past and current events in Darfur in the future. We strongly believe that several barriers and challenges contribute to impunity, and these obstacles have yet to be removed. Therefore, we call upon the international community to eliminate these barriers and obstacles to ensure justice for our people. I summarise these challenges and barriers in the following points:
Political will: There is limited political will within Sudan and internationally to prosecute those responsible for the atrocities, which has hindered efforts to hold perpetrators accountable.
Security concerns: Ongoing instability and security challenges in Darfur make it difficult to conduct proper investigations and trials, as well as protect witnesses and those seeking justice.
Legal barriers: The absence of comprehensive legal frameworks or effective judicial systems in Sudan has impeded efforts to prosecute individuals responsible for human rights violations.
International involvement: The involvement of international actors and various geopolitical interests sometimes complicates efforts to pursue justice and accountability in Darfur.
Victim protection: Ensuring the safety and protection of victims and witnesses is crucial, but often difficult due to the continued threats and risks faced by those seeking justice.
Final image by Sam Churchill from HM the King’s visit to the Sudanese community, with Abdallah shaking His Majesty’s hand, March 2023.