THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT AND UMAR AL-BASHIR
With close attention and self appraisal of the international criminal court, I have no doubt in my mind that the ICC has achieved a lot of successes.
I may hold that view of seeing mostly, African leader’s parading their corridors but that does not also make me doubts the deeds of the African leaders who taste their jurisdiction and come out guilty.
The conflict of Darfur evolved in February 2003 when Darfur rebels attacked military post in El-Fasher, complaining of neglect and marginalization by the Khartuom government. This reason has been a major source of political conflict in Africa. The response of this attack was swift and brutal mainly targeting civilians whose ethnicity showed they were supportive of the rebels groups. The Khartoum government allegedly financed band of Arab nomads who have often clashed with African farmers over pasture and grazing in Darfur.
With the military and these nomads of Sudan, they formed the junjaweed fighters. They have destroyed villages, raped many innocent victims and have killed many estimated at about 300,000 and more than 2 million displaced.
The International criminal court has accursed Bashir of masterminding and implementing such heinous crimes and therefore his indictment. I am in total support with Luis Moreno Ocampo, the ICC prosecutor on Bashir’s case in requesting the arrest warrant in July last year. He said Bashir bore individual criminal responsibility for events in Darfur. I think president Bashir in his capacity as president, could have stopped such conflict or even mitigate it to save us all the escalation we are presently striving hard to abate and resolve. I think Bashir motives were to use counter insurgency to defeat those ethnic groups whose members challenged his power and not necessarily a rebellion. Which is purely political? I know African leaders go an extra mile of staying in power, but the extent to which Mr. Bashir has gone live me with no choice of equating him to Idi Amin Dada. The charges prefered against him are nothing more than right. Five counts of war against humanity: murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture and rape. The two counts of war crimes were for directing attacks on civilian population and pillaging. Mr. Al Bashir approached this by describing the avert warrant as a western plot to hinder Sudan’s development which in my view is not the case at all. I do not know the western influence over Sudan and its interest but it is clear that Al Bashir decided to use that as a defense because he already has anti-western allies supporting him. He has managed to win the affection of Arab majority and this has given him a little amount of security. 65yeas Al Bashir has held power for more than 20years and because he is looking grips on power, decided to use such inhuman and barbaric way to stay in power. I am not surprised Salva Kir, the leader of southern Sudan is opting for Sudan to be divided into two.
During the trial of former Yugoslavian leader Slobodan Milosevic, I was too young to understand and naively supported him because I liked his name. I later found out how horrible he dealt with his country and has seen Al Bashir;s case as a triple more worse than that.
I am totally at a shock when the African union pressed for a postponement of the charges to allow Bashir a final chance to end the Darfur conflict. Yes, the conflict must end, but what about the atrocities he has committed? If the AU thinks Al-Bashir is the only person who can stop the conflict, then offcourse it means he has a lot of questions to answer and has a part to play that is why they think he can stop it. And if that is the case, Bashir has indeed committed crimes against humanity and needs to be punished. I do not see any reason why the AU should delay this. The families of those murdered are seeking justice and justice delayed is justice denied.
When Bashir visited Chad recently, nothing of an arrest was seen I think no African country will try to arrest Bashir. On the lighter side, I think no African country would like to be called a betrayer of the African continent. But that shouldn’t be the case, there are innocent people starving and dyeing because of some actions and inactions of one man and such person needs to face the law.
I don’t know why majority of African leaders including some Arab nations fear the warrant win destabilize the conflict in Darfur and threaten the fragile peace deal that ended deeds of civil war between southern and northern Sudan. In my view, the situation will be worse if we keep the very person causing and fueling the conflict, thus if we all agree he is to bear which in this case in quite obvious.
China which buys two thirds of Sudan’s oil, offered support for the African and Arab positions and urged the court to drop the warrant. Could that mean something? From same private debate I had with friends, it could mean, countries that have interest in Sudan especially it’s oil will not like anything to come between them and their interest after most of them have built a good relation with Al-Bashir
Nothing can stop me from asking how and why Bashir could stay in power for more than 20 years. I know this is common with African leaders but it beats my imagination how he could win such elections, or may be the people he is alleged to be brutalizing are the minority and therefore their votes could be negligible in bringing him down in election. Most of the African leaders that sought to stay in power have however ended up tarnishing their image and for that matter Africa, after ending up with extreme brutalities and murder either directly or under their watch.
Some people hold the views that, the International Criminal Court which maybe controlled by some strong Western powers are trying to excess pressure on Africa for full control. And if that maybe the case, won’t it be better to perceive to be controlled by the west for peace and less hunger than for us to be in ‘such’ and the west still casting a shadow control? I ask!
And I beg to ask, if “Head of state immunity no longer is a bar to prosecuting heads of state who commit war crimes and crimes against humanity during their time in office” which I agree could we say that should have extended to former US President George W. Bush over claims officials from his former administration may have engaged in torture by using coercive interrogation techniques on terror suspects.
Al Bashir who is always throwing mud at the west, I learnt have approached a number of UK public relation firms to try and give him a positive image after his image has been dented by his own deeds. In my research for popular UK PR firms I came across chime plc, managed by Lord Bell, Margaret Thatcher’s former advisor which earned almost half of it’s £67m income last year from foreign contracts, Portland PR – managed by Tim Allen, Tony Blair’s former deputy press sec. and Bell Pottinger one of the firms approached by Bashir. I guess UK is part of the west.
If I decide to delve deeper, I may pre-judge Al Bashir and subject myself to psychological impatience, anxiety and suspense in waiting for the judgment which might never come or obviously will take some amount of time. But I think our African leaders should come to the realization that, the safeguard of peace lies within their power and if stepping down from power seems the only way, why not? And Africans should also come to the terms of neo-colonialism and the hawks of western establishment, which may push individuals and groups in undermining our beloved individual countries and that matter Africa.
We need to leverage our own interest in all of our natural resources which seems to have caused a lot of conflicts. Like the Niger Delta, Angola, Congo etc.
But within such, anybody who commits crime against his fellow African should face the very law that binds us all.