Following are excerpts from an interview with Ahmad Haroun, Sudanese Minister of State for Humanitarian Affairs, which aired on Al-Jazeera TV on August 3, 2007:
Interviewer: According to the allegations of the International Criminal Court, in 2003 and 2004, you, Ahmad Haroun, personally ordered and orchestrated acts of killing, plundering, and gang rape, as well as deportation of civilians from the villages of Kutum, Bendisi, Mugjar, and Rawila, even though the rebels were not in these villages, according to the allegations. How do you respond to these allegations?
Ahmad Haroun: It is well known that the war in Darfur was ignited by the rebels – whether the Sudan Liberation Movement or the Justice and Equality Movement, or those who split from them later, under the pretext of political demands which they deem justified. Be this as it may, it cannot serve them as a justification to use weapons against the state or its citizens. The government went to Darfur in order to contain an illegal rebellion against the rule of the state. This rebellion primarily targeted the civilians and their interests, as well as governmental institutions. We were on the defense. Those villages you mentioned were under government control. The government institutions did what was required of them in order to provide services to the citizens. But the rebels attacked these villages several times, killing civilians and policemen. Our forces confronted them, in operations to maintain domestic security, in accordance with the law. No government would open fire on itself. We have no personal or organized vendetta against the citizens of Darfur. On the contrary, we went there in order to protect the citizens of Darfur. Therefore, these allegations are groundless. These are attempts to legitimize these illegal acts.
In America, if any citizen were to use a weapon against the state for any reason, they would call him a terrorist. Forget about America. If they even think that someone in Somalia is a possible threat to American national security, America sends over its ships, its fleets, and its soldiers in order to fight that possible enemy, under the pretext of the "war on terror."
What makes one group terrorists and the other group rebels, to whom the international community gives the legitimacy to rebel against their government? It is simple – they are driven by the West, and primarily by the U.S., in order to topple the regime in Sudan.
When I was Minister of State at the Ministry of the Interior, I carried out a humanitarian mission – protecting the lives of our citizens [in Darfur]. The period of the military operations there came to an end. My humanitarian mission now is to provide the humanitarian needs of the people of Darfur. In both cases, I carry out a humanitarian mission, the ultimate goal of which is to protect lives and to provide the needs.
Iraq witnesses the killing of hundreds on a daily basis, as part of the [American] war for oil alone. How do they justify their presence in Afghanistan, where dozens, if not hundreds, die every day? How does one explain the continuous plundering of the people of Somalia, where dozens of people are killed every day? These people are thousand of kilometers away from America. [Bush] seeks the interest of America, its artery of life – the oil. That is the secret that makes him interfere now in Sudan. In the Congo, on our south-western border, about three million were killed, according to U.N. documents. In Sudan, their own figures, not ours, refer to 200,000. Which is the greater humanitarian tragedy – the one in the Congo, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, or in Sudan?
Nobody talks about what goes on in the Congo, because it cannot be presented as a war between Arabs and Africans. This is the phobia and hysteria that has afflicted America and the Western regimes. They must have an enemy to fight, after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. They have set the Arabs, of the Muslims, as the target, and have begun to operate accordingly. The humanitarian tragedy lies in other countries, and it is caused by America. The humanitarian tragedy is not here, in Sudan. Who supplied weapons to the rebels? Who financed their activities and supplies them with weapons? The president of the republic declared in his recent press conference that it is the U.S., through Roger Winter and others. They are the ones who ignite conflicts and then try to profit from them. This civilization feeds on blood – human blood, I'm sad to say.
I am not a criminal. The criminal is Bush, who sends his planes and other capabilities to attack other peoples and their resources, so his civilization can live off human blood. We are defending our homeland. We were only defending our right to exist. Therefore, they are the ones who deserve to be punished. This will happen one day. The day will come when America will he held accountable for its crime against the peoples, including the Sudanese people.