If the past year has proven anything it would be that no dictator can be certain that his years of ruling power can not be overturned in a matter of mere months. But what if a dictator is not seen by his own people to be just that? What if they – genuinely and not out of fear – support his power, undemocratic laws and even bloodshed? Filmmaker Guy Loftus investigates how a man responsible for the death of 200.000 of his own people can still be popular in his upcoming documentary ‘Finding Omar’.
Women were raped in front of their children, children were killed, sometimes beheaded in front of their mother’s eyes and men were sexually humiliated before being brutally slaughtered – even innocent babies were not excluded from the killing spree that took place in Sudan’s border region Darfur during what has been described as “one of the worst nightmares in recent history”.
The man thought to be responsible for it, and currently sought for war crimes by the UN’s International Criminal Court in The Hague, is Omar Al-Bashir, North Sudan’s popular president.
Bashir has been in power for over 23 years in Sudan and has so far survived internal unrest, a long-running civil war with the separatist South and even US air strikes.
Human rights groups, and people like the Sudanese and Darfuri separatists share the believes of the west and see Bashir as nothing less than a monster, a ruthless dictator wedded to repression and terror who presided over a modern-day genocide and now defies the righteous will of the ICC by simply stating he “does not recognise the court”.
But for many northern Sudanese, and many Africans and Arabs, Bashir is a popularly elected president, the statesman who signed the landmark 2005 comprehensive peace agreement which ended the 22-year war with the south. They see him as the leader who broke the power of Sudan’s Islamists (who once harboured Osama bin Laden), and a man unfairly maligned and traduced by western powers locked in the old colonial mindset and covetous of Sudan’s oil.
So who is right?
Filmmaker Guy Loftus has managed to secure access to Bashir in order to find out who he really is and what he stands for. Is Bashir the hero who brought an end to a 22-year running war or is he an African version of Stalin?
The film ‘Finding Omar‘ could give answers to questions many newspapers have debated about and will shed light on Sudan’s recent history and Bashir’s impact on it.
What can you do?
If funded by NGO’s, the Sudanese government or any western government affiliate, the documentary could be dismissed as ‘biased’, depending on the view people draw from it. In order to avoid this, Lofus has taken to crowdfunding for his film.
In exchange for mentions in the film, photographic prints and DVD’s, Loftus is asking the audience to donate a small amount which will contribute to the last £1300 pounds that are still needed to fund the film. If this last step has been secured he can be off to find out who Bashir really is.
To donate a small amount or to find out more (and perhaps help to promote the request within your network of friends) click here.