Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir gestures prior to being sworn in, at the parliament in Khartoum,
Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir gestures prior to being sworn in, at the parliament in Khartoum, Sudan. Photo by AP
Text size

The United States Holocaust Museum has called the international arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar al- Bashir on charges of genocide a historic breakthrough.

"This is the first time that the International Criminal Court has accused a sitting head of state of genocide," said Michael Abramowitz, director of the museum's genocide prevention program.

"Justice requires that President al-Bashir respond to these very serious charges against him," Abramowitz said in a statement late Monday.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague on Monday issued the warrant against al-Bashir on three counts of genocide - a charge it had previously stopped short of.

The president was already wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity, relating to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in the western Sudanese region of Darfur.

The Sudanese government Tuesday dismissed the warrant as a "political decision" that would undermine ongoing peace talks in Doha.

Sudanese rebel groups praised the ICC decision. Abdel-Wahid al- Nur, leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), noted the warrant was in keeping with the "never again" promise made by the world after the World War II Holocaust against Jews in Europe.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has been monitoring the killings in Darfur since 2000 and called on the United States and international community to take steps "to ensure that the government of Sudan does not retaliate against innocent civilians" following the court's decision.

In 2007, the museum partnered with Google Earth to map conflict sites in Darfur.