Monday, April 26, 2010

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir Wins Election! Genocide? What Genocide?

Sometimes it's appropriate to let bygones be bygones. Sometimes, not.

Take the example of a small country whose military ruler likes to be called "president," and who had an election recently to prove his point. Several years ago, natives in a backward part of this small country dropped dead in large numbers. Rather abruptly, in many cases.

"Genocide" is such a harsh word. And, just because the International Court indicted this gentleman regarding those dead natives: well, can't we just forget the past and move on?

Looks like that's what's happening.

And I'm not comfortable about the situation. At all.

'Genocide' is Such a Harsh Word

The small country is Sudan. The leader is Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir. He won an election recently. The official poll numbers say so.

The BBC didn't, as far as I could tell, mention the little matter of dead natives in the Darfur region on Sudan. CNN did, in the 14th paragraph of their article:
"...Al-Bashir, a former military officer who took power in a bloodless coup in 1989, has been indicted over allegations of war crimes by the International Criminal Court...." (14th paragraph, CNN)
Genocide? CNN didn't bring up that little matter. It's such a harsh word, anyway.

Besides, it's those Americans who claim that lots of black people dropping dead in Sudan was genocide:
"...When rebels took up arms in Darfur, he armed militias to crush the uprising, unleashing a wave of violence Washington still calls genocide -- a charge dismissed by Khartoum...."
The concentration camps? Hey, those kids were "rebels" who "took up arms" - and besides, it's the American government that's fussing about it. 'Everybody knows' what those Americas are like.

And anyway, they weren't called "concentration camps." Millions of people were displaced - a nice way of saying "forced out of their homes" - and humanitarian aid was easier to deliver if the refugees were mostly in a few places. Then, convoys carrying food and other supplies to the camps were attacked.

Genocide, Oppression, and All That

Not everybody is on the same page as the American government, when it comes to that little oopsie in Sudan. News, quoted in an earlier post, from 2008:
"Sudan President's Arrest Sought by ICC Over Darfur (Update5)"
Bloomberg (July 14, 2008)

"The International Criminal Court's prosecutor is seeking the arrest of Sudan's President Umar al- Bashir, alleging he bears 'criminal responsibility' for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur....

"...The ICC is the only permanent tribunal for prosecuting individuals responsible for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity committed anywhere in the world. Its first judges were installed in 2003.

"The ICC has approved 12 arrest warrants that resulted in the custody of four people, said Dicker.

"The court was modeled on temporary tribunals set up to try war crime cases stemming from conflicts in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia as well as the first such trials held in the German city of Nuremberg after World War II...."
CNN wasn't quite as reticent about that little matter of genocide back then:
"CNN exclusive: ICC prosecutor on Darfur charges"
CNN (July 14, 2008)

"The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is seeking the arrest of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on charges of genocide in a five-year campaign of violence in the country's Darfur region. Luis Moreno-Ocampo spoke exclusively to CNN's Nic Robertson ahead of his announcement on Monday of the charges.

"Nic Robertson: What exactly are you accusing President Bashir of?

"Luis Moreno-Ocampo: We request a warrant for the crime of genocide -- 6a, b and c -- basically massive rapes and the condition of 2.5 million people -- in addition we charged him with crimes against humanity and war crimes.

"Q. For genocide though -- attempt to destroy an ethnic group in whole or in part -- which is an intent -- how do you prove intent?..."

"Sudanese president charged with genocide"
CNN (July 14, 2008)

"The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has filed genocide charges against Sudan's president for a five-year campaign of violence in Darfur.

"Luis Moreno-Ocampo on Monday urged a three-judge panel to issue an arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to prevent the deaths of about 2.5 million people forced from their homes in the war-torn region of Darfur and who are still under attack from government-backed Janjaweed militia...."
Not everybody sees what happened in Sudan quite the same way, though:
"Arab parliament slams ICC move against Sudanese president "
Xinhua (July 15, 2008)

"The Interim Arab Parliament (IAP) on Monday criticized the plan of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue an arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for alleged war crimes in Darfur, the Egyptian official MENA news agency reported.

"The IAP is 'amazed and dismayed' by reports of the ICC move, which is stirring Arab nations' concern, head of the parliament Mohamed Jassem al-Saqr said in a statement.

"The ICC move raises the fear that the international court could become a tool of major world powers to intimidate smaller countries, al-Saqr was quoted as saying...."
Well, we wouldn't want those "major world powers" to get in the way of national leaders purging their lands of people they don't like, would we?

Seriously, the possibility of a judicial system used for coercive purposes is real. But I think the Interim Arab Parliament might have chosen a better paragon to defend.

Still, with Saudi Arabia setting the standard of excellence for Islamic nations - - - well, that's another topic.

Islam has No Monopoly on Whack Jobs

This would be a good time to highlight a post that's in the "related posts" section:Related posts:In the news:

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.