Erdoğan visits Sudanese leader wanted for genocide

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has carried out a “historic” first official visit by a Turkish head of state to Sudan. His embrace of the only world leader wanted by an international court at a time when he is calling for human rights for Palestinians has raised eyebrows.

“We were together with Sudan,” against global sanctions, Erdoğan was quoted as saying by Sabah daily on Monday.

“We can see how correct our objections were when we look at where we are now. My brother (Sudanese President Omar) al-Bashir’s policies have played a big role in that.”

Erdoğan was awarded a medal by al-Bashir and signed 13 agreements intended to boost trade and co-operation with Sudan.

The International Criminal Court has two outstanding warrants for al-Bashir on charges of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide over his actions in Darfur.

“There are reasonable grounds to believe that Omar Al Bashir acted with specific intent to destroy in part the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups,” the court prosecutor wrote in relation to the case.

Rhetorically addressing U.S. President Donald Trump, Erdoğan asked whether he was not ashamed of supporting Israel.

“Can you imagine? What are Israel’s soldiers doing to 28- or 29-year-old Muhammed who has down syndrome? They are beating him,” Erdoğan said.

“Or did you not feel for that 15-year-old youth? You’ve got children, I also have children. You should feel the pain that I feel.”

As many as 300,000 people may have been killed in Darfur between 2003 and 2008, a UN official said, but the conflict remains ongoing.

Erdoğan had laid out his position on Sudanese actions in Darfur in a 2009 speech; the Turkish president said that he had been to Darfur himself and seen there was no genocide, he was quoted by CNNTürk as saying.

“A Muslim cannot do such a thing. A Muslim cannot carry out a genocide. If there was such a thing we would comfortably say it (to al-Bashir).”

Al-Bashir was in attendance at the Dec. 13 extraordinary Organisation of Islamic Cooperation meeting in Istanbul on the topic of Jerusalem.


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