Abdelrahman Mohamed Gasim’s 2020 Democracy Award Remarks

Honorable Andrew Card, Chairman of the Board of NED 

Honorable Carl Gershman, NED President, and US Deputy 

H.E. Dr. Nasredeen Abdulbari, Minister of Justice of Sudan 

H.E. Mr. Omer Ismail, Acting Foreign Minister of Sudan, 

H.E. Ambassador Makila James, US Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Africa and The Sudans

H.E. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield

Distinguished Guests 

Ladies and Gentlemen

All Protocols are duly respected 

It is a great honor to me personally and to my colleagues in Darfur Bar Association (DBA) to receive this year’s NED 2020 Democracy Award on behalf of the Sudanese people. I must say that NED’s long time efforts and support to civil society in Sudan played a pivotal role in defeating dictatorship and laying down the foundation for a democratically vibrant country. The post day were the days of darkness in Sudan and we have entered a new phase in building a state that respects human rights and observes rule of law and order. Please allow me to salute my compatriots all over Sudan, all segments of our society, women , men, young and adults, especially those who sacrificed their lives to make the political change in Sudan a reality. I wish to tell them that they deserve this honor and that their great accomplishment has been achieved through sustained effort and determination. It is the latest achievement in a series of events throughout history from the days of October 1964 and April 1985Revolutions back to the liberation struggle of the great Kings of Kush Taharqa and Kandaka Amani Rinas.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

DBA had been established in 1995 when few lawyers from Darfur came together at a time when the deposed regime considered advocacy for human rights, democracy and respect of the rule of law as a serious crime punishable by the death penalty. At that time, Trade Unions and professional associations, including the Sudanese Bar Association, were controlled by the ruling party and they acted as the mouthpiece of the former regime. Thanks to its independence, DBA and a few other civil society groups in Sudan took the bold decision to unveil war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the deposed regime in Darfur. As a result of these efforts, the international community intervened to arrest violence in Darfur and to hold the perpetrators accountable for their crimes. I am indeed extremely pleased to see that at last Ali Koyshyeb, one of the top genocidaires in Darfur, is now behind bars in the Hague awaiting a well-deserved trial. 

In this respect, I wish to pay tribute to Dr. Mukesh Kabila who sent the first alarm signal to the international community to intervene and put a halt to the crimes of ethnic cleansing committed by the former regime hence sacrificing his career as Head of the United Nations Mission in Sudan. Let me also pay tribute to those many peace-loving men and women from all over the world who supported our struggle throughout the years and that I could not mention their names due to time constraints. I am pleased to inform you that DBA continues to provide free legal aid to all Sudanese in need and also to advocate and raise awareness, through training, seminars and symposia, about human rights and fundamental liberties, the rule of law and legal reform, including harmonizing Sudan’s national laws and international standards. 

Now and after the success of the Sudanese people in overthrowing the former regime, the mission ahead of us, especially the calls to realize the revolutionary slogans “Freedom, Peace and Justice,” is yet to be accomplished. Renewed vigour as well as more and more efforts and human and material resources are therefore needed. This is because the former regime left behind a heavy legacy of injustice, inequality and inequity as well as ideological backwardness and broken society and institutions. To lay down a strong foundation and reverse the miserable socio-economic conditions and fragile security situation in Sudan, I believe that full respect of human rights and greater freedoms are key conditions. Therefore, there is an urgent need for independent civil society organizations in Sudan to continue their efforts in raising awareness about human rights training and civic education of the wider society. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I hereby call on this platform and on all peace-loving people that cherish democracy, liberty and peace everywhere in the world, including governments, international and regional NGOs and individuals to work to remove all kinds of restrictions and economic sanctions that negatively affect smooth democratic transformation in Sudan. Of particular concern to me and to many others of my friends and colleagues is the economic and financial sanctions imposed on the deposed regime for its role in supporting international terrorism. Lifting these sanctions will tremendously boost the ability of the Transitional Authority to address the socio-economic gaps that exist, achieve and sustain peace and start timely preparation for the transition of Sudan to multi democracy and good governance. 

In appeal to the Transitional Authority to pay special attention to addressing the questions of poverty in Sudan and to exercise maximum efforts in managing Sudan’s vast economic resources in a way that ensures the socio-economic well-being of its people. I encourage the TA to take into account the rights of women to equitable representation with men in all public spheres of life. Racism, discrimination and religious and cultural intolerance are among the main causes of political instability, internal armed conflicts and intercommunal violence in Sudan. I therefore call on the TA to take immediate measures to end racism and discrimination in the country and for that purpose it should adopt a nation-wide plan of action that involves all government institutions in a bid to eliminate the scourges of racism and discrimination.

Finally, I wish to report, with dismay, that the security conditions remain fragile in armed conflict-affected areas and that militia groups continue to commit heinous crimes against civilians in Darfur with total impunity. This is why I believe it is necessary that the UN and AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) should remain in the region for a longer period while enabling them to protect defenseless civilians. In addition, there is an urgent need for the return of UN agencies and international organizations to conflict areas to exercise their role in protection, advocacy, documentation and provide humanitarian aid.

My Sincere thank you to you all  audiences.