March 3, 2009
Franklin Graham Puts "Peace Before Justice" in Sudan
In NYT op-ed, Graham calls for delay in arrest of President Bashir for genocide.
In today's edition of The New York Times, Franklin Graham and Desmond Tutu, winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize, do a point-counterpoint exchange on Sudan, often labeled as the world's "most failed state."
In the Darfur region of western Sudan, genocidal killing has been taking place for nearly 7 years. In southern Sudan, the prospects for a lasting peace are beginning to slip away due to upticks in violence, associated with the political process of reconciling the Islamic North and the Christian/animist South.
On Thursday, the ICC (International Criminal Court) says it will announce whether it will issue an arrest warrant for Bashir in connection with the estimated 300,000 killled in violence and genocide in Darfur.
Graham, who favors waiting on the arrest, writes:
In 16 years of relief work in Sudan, I have witnessed much of the violence that his government has inflicted. An estimated 300,000 people in Darfur have died and 2.5 million people have fled their homes in the wake of fighting among rebels, government forces and their allied Janjaweed militias. Nor does the destruction stop there: Our organization has identified nearly 500 churches that were destroyed by Mr. Bashir's forces. But arresting Mr. Bashir now threatens to undo the progress his country has made. In 2005, Sudan's government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement signed an accord ending the civil war in the south. The agreement paved the way for elections in the south later this year, as well as for a referendum on southern independence scheduled for 2011. The accord has brought benefits to Sudan, but it isn't clear that they will last. Mr. Bashir, who fought members of his own party to approve the deal, is critical to the peace process. I want to see justice served, but my desire for peace in Sudan is stronger. Mr. Bashir, accused of genocide and crimes against humanity, is hardly an ideal peacemaker. But given all the warring factions in Sudan, there is no guarantee that his replacement would be better.
But Tutu, who asks the question, "Will Africa Let Sudan Off the Hook?" says in his op-ed piece:
The issuance of an arrest warrant for President Bashir would be an extraordinary moment for the people of Sudan - and for those around the world who have come to doubt that powerful people and governments can be called to account for inhumane acts. African leaders should support this historic occasion, not work to subvert it.
In two days, the ICC expects to make its announcement on the arrest warrant for Bashire. Tomorrow, I will have an exclusive update on Christians in the capital of Sudan, Khartoum.