Bashir's Defense Against War Crimes Charges

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For more than 10 years, a conservative estimate is 520,000 Acholis dead through slow-motion genocide. Bashir might ask: "Why is this genocide right across the border, which continues being ignored by the international community?"

[Publisher's Commentary]

Is there any argument or defense that Sudan’s dictator Omar Hasan al-Bashir can marshal in his defense of the war crimes and crimes against humanity charges by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against him?

Bashir recently travelled to Qatar and then to Egypt. That’s his way of thumbing his nose at the Western countries that pushed the ICC to indict him and then hand down an arrest warrant.

Yet, he must be careful. His indictment has weakened his regime and one of his underlings may depose him and have him handed to the ICC just to ensure that Sudan does not become a total pariah state. Darfur, and the atrocities committed there has already damaged the Sudan’s reputation; the arrest warrant closed the lid. The pressure may eventually end Bashir’s regime.

But here’s the defense that Bashir should present, first in the global political arena, via a press conference with his lawyer sitting next to him; then, if it comes to that, in the Court. Even if it serves merely as his parting shots.

Bashir and the smart lawyer he hires, must strive to expose the ICC as an instrument of Western foreign policy, by focusing on three primary grounds as evidence.

The ICC was supposedly created to punish war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide; which is exactly what it sometimes does. Yet, the ICC also patently engages in selective enforcement; the ICC ignores war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, when the perpetrators are allied with the West; and, the ICC engages in religious discrimination.

It won’t be difficult for Bashir to prove these points.

Bashir must start with a short statement: "I have been accused of being a wicked perpetrator of mass killings; but what about my neighbor to the South, Uganda’s president Lt. General Yoweri Museveni, who has committed more than 20 times worse crimes, causing the deaths of more than 20 times more Africans? He is being protected because he serves Western interests, much like Mobutu used to."

Bashir could then introduce the "Why Me Only?" (WMO) line of defense, which follows. He can point out that Uganda’s Museveni:

[] Sponsored the invasion of Rwanda in October 1990 and armed and trained the invading army, which comprised battalions of Uganda’s national army but was renamed the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF). The top officers of the invading army, including Paul Kagame –now Rwanda’s president—were senior Uganda officers of Tutsi origin. Kagame had been chief of Uganda’s military intelligence and was sent to train at Fort Leavenworth, in the US on a Ugandan passport—all of this was done with the knowledge of Bill Clinton’s Administration.

Upon his return to Uganda, Kagame took command of the invading RPF, which was created and financed by Museveni, using Uganda tax-payers’ money. Museveni also reportedly provided the RPF with the missile used to shoot down the presidential plane carrying Rwanda’s president, Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundi’s Cyprien Ntaryamira, four years into the invasion, sparking the massacres of an estimated 800,000- to one million people.

Bashir could note that even though the ICC had not yet been created, his first objective in raising this matter was to establish Museveni’s appetite and proclivity for spectacular mass crimes, before presenting the second point.

[] Bashir could point out that after overthrowing the government of Rwanda, Gen. Museveni turned his eyes on Congo. He helped depose the corrupt regime of dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. Then his army, whose officers were trained by the United States, committed massacres, rapes, destruction of property, and theft of natural resources and mineral wealth during Uganda’s occupation of eastern Congo from 1997 to 2005.

In 2005, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) found Uganda liable for the war crimes in Congo and the Kinshasa government was granted $10 billion in compensation; not a cent has been paid.  Please see http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/116/10455.pdf

By this time, the ICC had been established, so Congo’s president Joseph Kabila referred a complaint based on the same alleged crimes in eastern Congo, which had been affirmed by the ICJ's ruling, to the ICC for investigation.

On June 8, 2006 The Wall Street Journal in a front page article reported that Museveni tried to get the UN to block the investigation. The Journal wrote: “President Museveni of Uganda asked U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to block the Congo investigation, according to one person familiar with the matter. Mr. Annan replied that he had no power to interfere with the court, this person said.”

Bashir could demand to know whether the UN ever acted on Museveni's desperate request, which is a clear admission of guilt by the Ugandan. Bashir could ask if there was a quid-pro-quo: In return for delaying the indictment of Museveni, did he subsequently agree to become a U.S. puppet, serving American interests, such as sending troops to Somalia? Although Museveni could still be indicted, Bashir could ask why it has taken more than five years since president Kabila referred the complaint, while his own moved so swiftly. Bashir could pose the question: "Is this not selective prosecution?"

[] Bashir could also ask why the ICC ignores crimes committed by another U.S. ally, Paul Kagame. He could point out that Kagame sponsored Laurent Nkunda, the Mafioso who committed war crimes in eastern Congo—the aim was to do to Joseph Kabila what Kagame and Museveni did to Habyarimana.

Bashir could ask why, after such depraved and crude massacres in Congo in recent months, including the beheading and disemboweling of victims, Nkunda and Kagame remain unindicted and Nkunda is being protected by Rwanda whichrefuses to hand him over to Kinshasa.

[] Bashir could also point out that while he has been indicted for committing atrocities while allegedly fighting rebels within his country; many of the rebels also have the blood of civilians in their hands too, but they are sponsored by Washington, London and the "Save Darfur" movement—these are the only kinds of criminals who can get away with murder.

Bashir must contrast the Darfur atrocties with the crimes committed by Uganda’s army, under Lt. Gen. Museveni’s command, in his war against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in Uganda and ask why there is unequal treatment by the ICC.

Museveni’s regime has created more than 50 concentration camps where, in order to punish the Acholi –because rebel leader Joseph Kony hails from the region—more than two million civilians were forcefully herded and confined.

In 2005, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the conditions in Gen. Museveni’s concentration camps were so terrible that there were more than 1,000 excess deaths per week.

Bashir could make clear that not even he committed such an explicitly calculated and measurable genocide.

The confinement, using the WHO’s figures translates to 52,000 deaths per year—since some of these camps have been in existence for more than 10 years, a conservative estimate is 520,000 Acholis dead through slow-motion genocide. Bashir might ask: "Why is this genocide right across the border, which continues being ignored by the international community which insists on focusing only on the LRA's war crimes, which while horrific pales in comparison to Museveni's? In any event Kony has already been rightfully indicted by the ICC. What about Museveni?"

[] Finally, Bashir could argue that the ICC prosecuted him because he is a Muslim while Museveni, who has committed the most un-Christ like crimes claims to be a Christian, and thereby gets a pass from the West and the ICC.

Bashir could point out that Museveni, is much more tightly linked to the deaths outlined above –at least 6.5 million Africans; one million in Rwanda; five million in Congo; and, more than half a million in Uganda’s Acholi region— and yet Museveni remains a free man.

In fact, as a reward for being a faithful U.S. puppet and sending troops to Somalia, where they joined with Ethiopia’s army to massacre Somalis— the George Bush Administration did not oppose Uganda’s bid for one of the rotating non-permanent member seats on the Security Council reserved for an African country.

This means that Uganda, although not possessing veto power, can try to influence the Council to either act or not act on the arrest warrant against the Sudan's president, while at the same time trying to stall the indictment of Gen. Museveni.

Bashir could then sum up his argument: "Is the ICC’s mandate really to punish those who commit war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide; or is it a fictitious court that is made to disempower leaders like Sudan's who are at odds with Western powers such as the United States and Britain? If indeed the Court is meant to punish mass criminals, why is it that Uganda’s Museveni engineers such spectacular crimes, including the assassinations of two presidents with a missile, and not only gets away but is rewarded with a seat on the Security Council? And is it a coincidence that leaders who are clearly implicated in war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, such as the leaders of Rwanda and Uganda, and who are not being pursued by the ICC, also happen to be allies of Britain and the US?"

Bashir could conclude with these remarks:

"Either the Security Council has to suspend the arrest warrant against me, or prove that it is not a mere tool of the West by also indicting other war criminals such as Yoweri Museveni, for his crimes including in Congo and Uganda, Paul Kagame, for the crimes in Congo, and Meles Zenawi for the war crimes his army committed while occupying Somalia. To do otherwise will just confirm my argument and hold the ICC to global ridicule. I rest my case."





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