Wednesday, 17 June 2009

BMI Peace and Reconciliation Delegation

BMI Peace and Reconciliation Delegation
Met Advisor to the President of Sudan

Dr. Mozammel Haque

KHARTOUM: A Ten-Member Delegation of the British Muslim Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation under the leadership of Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham left for Sudan, on Saturday, the 4th of April 2009. The members of the delegation were as follows: Lord Nazir Ahmad, Leader of the Delegation; sister Yvonne Ridley, former reporter of Daily Express and a revert to Islam; Dr. Merve Kavakci of the George Washington University, Washington D.C.; Abdullah Al-Faliq, Researcher of the Cordova Foundation, London; Dr Mozammel Haque, Researcher and Media Advisor, Islamic Cultural Centre, London; Lawrence Khan, Secretary of Lord Ahmad; Barrister Aisha Alvi, human rights activist; Mukhtar of Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) , Shairkhan Jameel Ahmed, representative of Markaz Jamiat-e-Ahle Hadis and Syed Lakhte Hassanain, chairman of Muslim Hands.

Speaking about the objective of the delegation, Lord Ahmad said, “Our job is really to build confidence bottom up. We will talk to the communities, we will talk to the leaders, we will build momentum like we did last time; we will speak and listen and once we have done that we will give them the hope; because for me, the most important is the hope. Our message is we build around that.”

Lord Ahmad said, “Our message is very clear. This is our message: we, British Muslims, do not have financial, economic or political interest. Our interest is simple: peace and we want to bring all sides and tribes together. Our message is clear: we want anybody, any human being to make peace. That’s what the Prophet (peace be upon him) did in Halful fadhul and that he did all his life.”

Lord Ahmad, Leader of the Delegation
British Muslim Initiative (BMI) delegation arrived at Khartoum, capital of Sudan early morning of Sunday, 5th of April, 2009 and met Dr. Ghazi Salahuddin Atabani, Adviser to the President and also Leader of the Parliamentary Majority, Dr. Nafi Ali Nafi – Assistant to the President, National Congress Party Vice President and also Dr. Mariam Al-Sadig Al-Mahady of the Ummah Party and discussed about the issues such as expulsion of NGOs, situation of IDPs and their camps and ICC indictment.

Lord Ahmad said, “Last year we travelled to Al-Fasher, capital of North Darfur and that was successful. Our commitment is peace and we do not have any intention. We do not want to humiliate.”

“I do not believe all NGOs are innocent. We want to know how we can help under the present circumstances. How Muslim NGOs from other countries, UK, USA and the Middle East come here and do it? Would you like to reconsider the situation?” enquired Lord Ahmad.

The number of International NGOs in the whole of Sudan is 188. In Darfur, there are 118 NGOs from all over the world including the Islamic NGOs: 52 in South Darfur, 35 in North and 31 in West Darfur. That’s the total number of the International NGOs in the three states of Darfur, according to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs of Sudan.

Last month the registration of 13 NGOs from the whole of Sudan was revoked for different reasons; out of which only 10 were working in Darfur. Three has nothing to do with Darfur: Save the Children, UK and NRC have nothing to do with Darfur. They don’t operate in Darfur; they operate in other areas in Sudan, according to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs of Sudan.
The Ministry official also said, “From the United States we have 19 international NGOs in Darfur; 5 were expelled, remaining 14. From Britain we have 16, two were expelled and now we have 14 working at field. From France, we have 10 international NGOs, two were asked to leave till working in Darfur.”

Dr. Ghazi Salahuddin Atabani
Advisor to the President of Sudan
Speaking about the expulsion of NGOs, Dr. Ghazi said, “We have very strong objection for some of the NGOs. We cannot trust anyone who claims to be charitable and humanitarian simply because they are great.”

Dr. Ghazi accused, “These people have done many mistakes, some time some of them collaborated with the ICC, quite different from their professed objectives, some were involved in proselytization in Darfur, involved transfer of people outside and some of them were involved in bringing people to sensationalize the matters. Darfur, for some time, has become an industry where there is Hollywood.”

“A number of diplomats from different embassies said that the decision to expel NGOs was overdue. It should have been done long time ago. But, of course, that was done at the right moment. You have indicted our President and what do you expect; do you think that is to be passed without any incident,” asked Dr. Ghazi and added, “But we are ready to look into the matter as objectively, as constructively and as impartially as possible.”

Speaking about the expulsion of NGOs, Dr. Ghazi said, “This is the game of numbers; this is a war of numbers.”

Dr. Ghazi maintained, “We will not allow any politics in the name of humanitarian aid. No politicising; we should have common objective. They still go on politicising Darfur. We could not talk solving the problem so long this politicising is going on. We are not against humanitarian aid.”

Speaking about the needs gaps after the expulsion of NGOs, Dr. Ghazi said, “We did joint assessment on the grounds. We came up with a report which is very objective. It is a joint report; joint statement – UN and Sudan.”

Speaking about the ICC Indictment of the Sudanese President, “The legal basis of the case is very weak,” said Dr. Ghazi and argued, “This is a political case. Sudan is not signatory to the ICC and as such this does not fall within the jurisdiction of the ICC.”

Dr. Ghazi also mentioned about the composition of the ICC. “Look at the composition. It includes only European countries and some other countries like Canada and others. China is not signatory to the ICC; India is not signatory to the ICC and Russia is not signatory to the ICC. You are talking about the International community. Where is the international community? This is the international community. So far ICC has tried only Africans. So the whole thing is very shaky.”

Speaking about the reaction to the ICC indictment of the Sudanese President, Dr. Ghazi said, “In terms of the reaction within the Sudan, it has substantiated and strengthened the Government; it has strengthened the President and the institute of National Congress Party rather than weakening. At the regional level, you have seen the response in the Arab countries and in some Muslim countries. The support shown by the Doha Summit is unprecedented. The support they have shown to the whole of Sudan is more than the support shown for the question of Palestine.”

Dr. Ghazi also said, “If someone has committed crime, he has to be tried under national tribunal. We discussed this and told we are not averse to the possibility of having some African supervision in order to having transparency.”

Mr. Ahmad Muhammad Harun
Sudanese Minister for Humanitarian Affairs
The BMI for Peace and Reconciliation delegation met the Sudanese State Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Haroun, on the same day, afternoon in his office and discussed about the expulsion of the NGOs and the gap in the humanitarian works.

After introducing the members of his delegation, Lord Ahmad said, “We spoke to Dr. Nafi and Dr. Ghazi this morning in relation to our visit and Dr. Ghazi actually suggested that we must see you because you have the facts and figures in terms of NGOs. We are interested to know after the indictment and what has happened. We want to know about the NGOs that have been expelled whether you are going to be able to cope with the work that used to come out, now they are not here whether you would be able to deal with it. Obviously we want to hear about their activities as much as you can on the allegations of the relations they were involved and how they are interfering ICC or giving information out of country on intelligence basis.”

Lord Ahmad mentioned about the international reputation of those NGOs. He said, “After all Save the Children, Oxfam, whether they are involved or not they have international reputation and CARE and IRC and Mercy and MSF all these have very big presence in the international community and reputation. For whatever reasons, whether rightly or wrongly, it is perceived that this is just a reactionary revenge because President Omar al-Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). So this is a reaction. We want to hear from your Excellency as a minister responsible on how you see the effects of this and how you see the developing.”

Lord Ahmad mentioned, “Dr. Nafi made it very clear that they (NGOs) will not come back even over my dead body almost, he said. But there are others who think there may be room for reconsideration. If there is room for reconsideration maybe we can have a conference in London. What we want to say we want to help. Please tell us how we can help.”

Minister Haroun said, “Simply we have a clear case against these international NGOs. First of all, they helped directly; they gave them fuel, logistics, system of communication, information about our troops; some of them signed memos with ICC data collection. It is not a real data; it is a fabricated data. If they sent to them the real data information we are happy, but fabricate the facts that are unacceptable. We have a document, copies memos between ICC. They always made a campaign against Sudan government by mobilising the international communities and media to put a lot of pressure on the government of Sudan. For that reason, we just circulate to tell them you are out of our country. You come to assist us not to attack us. The concept of humanitarian work is a voluntary way; it is not a compulsory way. You cannot compel to receive your aid.”

“On the 4th March 2009, the Government of National Unity (GoNU) revoked the registration certificates of 13 International and 3 National organisations due to their involvement in activities violating their humanitarian mandates and threatening national security, such as cooperation with ICC, false reporting and advocating with the International Community and Security Council for more pressure on Sudan,” said the document presented by the Ministry.

The Ministry also informed that a joint committee was formed with the UN agencies to oversee the implementation of contingency plans for water, health, food and non food items. The Government of Sudan and the United Nations discussed the matter on several occasions, focussed on the following sectors: food aid; health and nutrition; non-food items; and water and sanitation and concluded their report.

The Minister Haroun said, “We made a joint assessment with the UN and come out with the result that shows the gaps in food sector, health sector and in non food item sectors. It shows that very narrow gap due to our government intervention and by international NGO intervention.”

The Ministry official who gave detailed information about NGOs said, “From this report, we found that the food is available and is accessible in Darfur and WBC distributed for March and April in normal in all the camps and the affected areas. The food is available in Sudan up till September 2009. Food is there.”

Dr. Mariam Al-Sadig Al-Mahady
On the same day evening, the BMI delegation met Dr. Mariam Al-Sadig Al-Mahady of the Ummah National Party and discussed about the issues of expulsion of NGOs, the ICC indictment and the forthcoming elections before proceeding to have a conference in Niyala, the capital of South Darfur, on Monday, the 6th of April, 2009.

Speaking about the ICC indictment of the Sudanese President, Dr. Mariam said, “ICC, unless it revised the way it is carrying the indictment of the President of Sudan, it is losing its validity; because it was established as an independent legal body, but now it seems through the United Nations Security Council it is getting more politicised. So unless this issue of the indictment of the President is addressed in a more rational way the things in Sudan will be in muddle with as well as the political ICC. That’s why we have to look very seriously into the issue of how we handle the issue of ICC for its own sake and for the sake of stability, peace and justice in Sudan.”

“If ICC is used as a tool of harassment by the first country against the third country, ICC will eat its vitality as a tool of Justice,” observed Dr. Mariam.