Al-Bashir And ICC On Trial
Was the indictment of al-Bashir based solely on the crimes he is alleged to have â€œmastermindedâ€? Was the action the result of the pressure generated by global activists, including celebrities such as George Clooney and Mia Farrow? Was the chief prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo acting to fulfill the dictates of the United States and other Western countries?
[Black Star News Editorial: Crime And Punishment]
Are we witnessing the beginning of the trial of Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir? Is it the International Criminal Court in the Hague itself that‘s on trial?
Time will tell.
The ICC has announced al-Bashir’s indictment and asked for an arrest warrant to be issued for al-Bashir’s alleged “masterminding” of genocide in the Darfur region. This is well and fine.
Indeed, al-Bashir is implicated in the atrocities that have claimed the lives of an estimated 300,000 or possibly more people and displaced millions from their homes. In addition to starvation and diseases, those displaced have suffered further abuse, accompanied with rapes of defenseless women.
Yet there are serious questions that the ICC must first answer.
Was the indictment of al-Bashir based solely on the crimes he is alleged to have “masterminded” as the case should be? Was the action the result of pressure generated by hundreds of thousands of global activists, including celebrities such as George Clooney and Mia Farrow? Was the chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo acting to fulfill the dictates of the United States and other Western countries?
The ICC must dispel any misconceptions based on its own actions; which must be uniform and consistent.
If al-Bashir was indicted purely because of the scope and scale of the crimes he is alleged to have masterminded, without undue influence from the United States and the global activists, then another African ruler should expect an indictment to be soon unsealed:
Uganda’s Yoweri K. Museveni, not only masterminded but actually has directed crimes against humanity and war crimes in both eastern Congo and in northern Uganda, where ongoing genocide continues against the targeted victims, Acholis.
The Congo atrocities were committed when Museveni’s army occupied and pillaged eastern Congo. Already the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has found Uganda liable in the civil case and Congo was awarded $10 billion in compensation for the mass murders, the rapes, and for the destruction of property and theft of Congo’s resources.
Please see http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/116/10455.pdf as well as http://hrw.org/reports/2003/ituri0703/DRC0703-04.htm#whoiswho
Luis Moreno-Ocampo’s ICC has also been investigating these same alleged crimes since 2004, after Congo president Joseph Kabila referred the matter to the court, according to a June 8, 2006 article in The Wall Street Journal. Knowing where the evidence would lead to, Museveni called then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and urged him to block the probe----Annan said he had no such powers, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Moreover, the ICC recently unsealed indictment against Jean-Pierre Bemba for the role his militia played in atrocities in the Central African Republic. He's already in the Hague awaiting trial. Bemba's militia, which was primarily trained and financed by Uganda, is also charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes in DR Congo; he will likely implicate his paymasters.
In Uganda, almost the entire two million population of Acholi, the targeted group, has been confined in death camps, where hundreds of thousands have died a slow death, through government-sanctioned starvation, through planned neglect, through unsanitary conditions, through diseases, including AIDS, spread by targeted rapes of both men and women by soldiers known to be HIV-positive. A survey conducted by the World Health Organization and Uganda's own Ministry of Health concluded that as many as 1,000 excess deaths per week occurred in the death camps; this translates to more than 52,000 per week; some of the camps have existed for more than 10 years.
Northern Uganda once had the lowest incidence of HIV/Aids; as a result of confinement in the death camps and the diabolical targeted rapes, it now has one of the highest rates in the country. The ICC need not search too hard for evidence that Museveni masterminded and directed the genocide in Acholi; he has often donned military fatigues and encamped in the area to supposedly crush the Lord's Resistance Army; 22 years and counting, the LRA still exists while Ugandan citizens die in concentration camps that would not be permitted anywhere else in the world. There are numerous published statements where Museveni has boasted of "massacring" his enemies; the only problem is when they are dead it's diffcult to distinguish alleged rebels from innocent civilians.
When the accounting is done, the international community --especially the United States and Britain, Museveni's principal sponsors-- must bear some of the responsibility and shame.
The only difference between al-Bashir and Museveni is that the latter is a U.S. stooge in Africa--currently sending Ugandan soldiers to die in Somalia at Washington's behest in return for U.S. silence over the genocide in eastern Congo and in Uganda. In scale and scope, with as many as seven million reported dead in Congo resulting from the war and Uganda’s occupation, and perhaps one million in the death camps where millions of Acholis have been confined for more than a decade, al-Bashir’s crimes, horrendous and deserving of the indictment, still pales by comparison.
The ball is clearly in the ICC’s court.
Chief prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo has an opportunity to demonstrate to any genocidal African ruler that the days of mass crimes with impunity are over. He must emphatically demonstrate that the pursuit of al-Bashir is not a case of selective enforcement by the court.
The ICC must also answer the cries of those that lost their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters in eastern Congo and in northern Uganda. Who will account for the blood of those victims?
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