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Monday, July 14, 2008

A step closer or more fuel on the fire?


Today at The Hague, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, lead prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, presented evidence to indict Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir on ten counts, including crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of genocide in the Sudanese region of Darfur. This indictment comes three years after the United Nations Security Council requested that Moreno-Ocampo investigate the situation in Darfur. According to a press release from the ICC:
The Prosecution evidence shows that Al Bashir masterminded and implemented a plan to destroy in substantial part the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa groups, on account of their ethnicity. Members of the three groups, historically influential in Darfur, were challenging the marginalization of the province; they engaged in a rebellion. AL BASHIR failed to defeat the armed movements, so he went after the people. “His motives were largely political. His alibi was a ‘counterinsurgency.’ His intent was genocide. ” The Prosecutor said.
The evidence is now being reviewed by the judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber. A ruling on the arrest warrent is expected in the early fall. A ten page summary of the Prosecution's case is available on the ICC website.

So what does this mean? Well, there are two schools of thought on this.

The first, claims that this arrest warrant will destroy the already fragile peace effort and send Darfur into a spiral of violence. Already, the United Nations has plans in place to pull out all but the most essential of their civilian workers out of the region. Just last week, seven UN peacekeepers were killed in an ambush with militiamen believed to be from the Janjaweed. Other international groups, such as Médecins Sans Frontières, have either already removed or are planning on moving their non-essential workers out of the Darfur region, citing concerns of retribution and violence. In the week since Moreno-Ocampo notified UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon his plan to table this indictment, members of the security council have met privately. Both China and Russia warn that any direct move against Bashir will jeopardize future peace talks and aid to the victims.

And they may very well be right. In response to the indictment, the Sudanese government has rejected and denied the charges... calling them lies and fabrications of a "stooge court". On Sunday, the ruling party of Sudan, the National Congress Party, warned that the indictment would bring further bloodshed and violence to the area. Peter Martell, a freelance reporter in Khartoum told CBC:
"The country is furious and they are very angry, and they are directing this anger toward the UN, who operate a large mission here. So the fear is that may have some implication on the mission of the UN in Sudan."
On the other hand, there is a second school of thought that says that this indictment may just be the leverage that the peace process needs, and could be the spark needed to bring this atrocities to an end. The New York Times quotes John Pendergrast, co-founder of Enough, a group seeking the end of genocide and a former Clinton advisor as saying:
“Suddenly, a new variable has entered the equation in the form of the request for an arrest warrant. While the I.C.C. judges consider this request over the next two months, there is a new point of major leverage over Bashir.”
In the same article, the International Crisis Group's deputy president Nick Grono states that this indictment sitting over Bashir's head may make him realise his options are dwindling.

There's one problem with this school of thought. President Bashir and his government do not recognise the International Criminal Court, claiming it does not have any jurisdiction in Sudan. Speaking at a ceremony marking the signing of a new election law for Sudan, which would see free elections in the country for the first time in 23 years, Bashir is quoted in an Africa-Reuters article:
"Whoever has visited Darfur, met officials and discovered their ethnicities and tribes... will know that all of these things (including ethnic cleansing) are lies."
In an interview with the Associated Press, Sudanese Ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamed stated that the government is looking at all of their options, including military force. Mohamed claims that Bashir is planning on visiting the United Nations General Council in the autumn and that any attempt to arrest him at that time would be considered worthy of a military response.

Before he made this move in the International Criminal Court, Moreno-Ocampo knew that many wanted him to delay presenting evidence, but as he told the New York Times:

“Some people have said that for me to intervene at this point is shocking. I say what is going on now is shocking. Genocide is going on now, and it is endangering the lives of many more people.”

* * *
Early in Season four of The Hour, George interviewed ICC Lead Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo. This interview offers a good backgrounder into the situation in Darfur as well as what lead up to today's indictment. Also, as many of you know George travelled to Darfur with musician Raine Maida in 2004. After Maida's December 2007 appearance on The Hour, George posted a crazy story from Darfur on After the Hour. George also interviewed Sgt. Debbie Bodkin, a Waterloo police officer who went to Darfur as a UN Investigator.


Holly said...

I have great respect for Nic Robertson, but he doesn't seem to know how rape in Sudan is being used as a tool of genocide.

Here's how, and it has been an OFFICIAL governmental PROGRAM in Sudan for many years. I've known about it since somewhere in the early '90's. Just as I'd known back then about the slavery that only got brief public notice several years ago. I do my homework on Sudan. It's time most people in the free world started doing a little of their own, if they would know the realities of this regime.

It's a program called "Arabization." There's another one, called "Islamization," which, simply put, is conversion by the sword, a thing not usually needed in Darfur, where most of the victims are already Muslims.

Arabization (Google it for yourself) is using rape to dilute the gene pool of the black people. A woman pregnant with an Arab's child can hardly become pregnant from one of her own ethnic group's males. Most of those get killed outright, anyway, then raping the women makes many pregnant with mixed children. Those children, of course, are still not remotely acceptable by Arabs, but it's a step along the way. Rape such a child when she's old enough to conceive, and now you've got a baby who is 3/4 Arab, and so on. That's better, to the Arabs, but even that baby wouldn't be acceptable. None ever would be, no matter how many generations are raped. But at least they'll ultimately be mostly Arab, and the black genes will peter out.

Genocide by rape, boys and girls.

I don't know why Mr. Ocampo didn't tell this to Mr. Robertson, but it could well be he wants to keep that cat in the bag until the trial, hopefully so evidence won't be destoyed first.

As for more violence stemming from this indictment? How stupid can people get to think that because more violence can (probably will) occur, that the indictment should be dropped? That's caving in to terrorism, and it is precisely what terrorism seeks to accomplish.

The people of Darfur, given latitude to speak freely, would praise this indictment. They know their own liberty can never be achieved without violence occurring. Nobody can stop a genocidal regime without it. Such people only understand violence. No genocidal regime or dictator has EVER given up power, or stopped the slaughter, until forced to.

Of course, there'll be more violence. But if no incictment, and the violence that will ensue, nothing will ever be done to stop the genocide. How much sense does THAT make? That would leave the only option to let the genocide stop "on its own." Which it will never do until every black person in Sudan is dead.

Isn't more violence, temporarily, until the regime can be stopped, better than doing nothing at all?

As for peacekeepers' and humanitarian aid workers' safety, they should know what is likely to be coming their way and take precautions, or leave, for a while, at least. Deal with their security, but don't retract the indictment as a means of doing that.

Why don't people think?

Barbara said...

Holly you gave us a lot to think about . Thank you for your contribution to the conversation.
Mich thank you for bringing this up.

Mich said...

excellent points holly. Thank you for contributing to the conversation.

The whole thing is just one big clusterfuck that will take a whole bunch of projects to fix. No one thing will repair or address the situation. We just need to get that process started.

Holly said...

I thank those who have commented so kindly. So I have more stuff for you to mull over. Worse stuff.

There is a LOT more to know, a LOT more that I can tell you about this unspeakably evil regime, but it can't all be said here. It's just too much.

I have a yahoo e-mail, specifically set up for people to discuss the subject, called stop genocide. Just put an underscore between the two words. Then use the word "Sudan" in the subject line to distinguish from spam. I can't afford a website; maybe some of you can help me establish one. I wouldn't even know how to manage a website, so I'd need help with that, too! Other than knowing a lot of this stuff, I'm otherwise not good for much.

I want to have a group of people who want to dig deeper into this matter, and more importantly, find ideas regarding what WE, as concerned people, can do - something more than sending humanitarian aid, which often gets stolen anyway.

What's needed are ways to put this regime on the defensive. I have a few ideas. How workable they can become would have everything to do with how many people are willing to actually GO there - it would entail personal risk, but would not require becoming violent. Avoiding violence, though, might be another matter. It doesn't involve going to Darfur, though; I'm referring to the southern regions, which are the next targets of the regime, as well as their original targets.

The idea can work, but only if it is implemented.

You see, what I didn't mention originally is that Darfur is NOT the first and only genocide of this regime. It is the second one, and by FAR milder than the first.

The first genocide began around the mid-80's, against the non-Muslim indigenous blacks of the south: Dinka, Nuba, Nuer and others. There was no subtlety about it whatever. Official troops entered a village, rounded everyone up, put them into their own thatched cattle-byres and set them to the torch. Then they burned the village buildings, crops and livestock. Then on to the next village for the glory of Allah.

If THAT isn't genocide, what IS? Yet the entire free world insisted on calling it a "civil war." Now you know how words can kill.

Well, I'm fairly good with words, myself, and I'm on the attack with them, against anybody who would defend or support this regime, even by the simple expedient of "doing nothing."

Genocide, my dears, is the worst "BAD" there is, or ever can be.

You can verify all this at Amnesty Internatinal. They have reams and reams of documentary evidence about the atrocities done to the southern people. Ask for stuff they have between roughly 1984 and 2006. And which genocide Sudan is now gearing up to start all over again. Amnesty does NOT refer to it as a genocide, any more than any of our freeworld governments or major media sources have done. They're all STILL pretending that Darfur occurred "in a vacuum," only a couple of years ago! They're STILL keeping the first genocide from us all! And what does THAT say about our free press? Or our democracies, for that matter?

If I were you, I'd be VERY worried about the genuiness of either. Particularly the genuineness of the "free" part of press and democracy in the world.

The blame for this silence, this coverup, cannot be laid at any one nation's feet, or at the feet of any political group; they're ALL guilty. They'd be covering up Darfur, too, if they could. But celebrities got involved, made it an issue, so they can't pretend it's just another "civil war" again. But even the activists aren't mentioning the first genocide! Maybe they don't know about it, though. And I, who know a lot about both, am somebody that nobody listens to. I'm not an actress or other celebrity.

2 1/2 MILLION people were slaughtered in the Sudan, in a 20-year-long, silent genocide-that-wasn't.

This should make people rather extremely angry. Why isn't it? Do you like being kept ignorant of headline news? Do you like it that our governments have ignored a genocide for two decades?

Many people don't really care what happens to blacks in the world. Or to indigenous people. The southern people had the misfortune of being both. We attended to the Bosnia genocide, were horrified by the Rwanda genocide, and ALL the while, this one was still going on. And on, and on...

It doesn't matter if you don't care about blacks or indigenous people. I'll tell you what you SHOULD care about: Tolerance of ANY genocide, anywhere on earth has one predictable and certain effect - more genocides. We ALWAYS tolerate genocide to our very own personal peril.

IF we hadn't ignored this first genocide, it's just possible that the "perps" in Bosnia, Rwanda, perhaps even N. Korea, Myanmar and Zimbabwe regimes might have had second thoughts.

Cruelty fosters cruelty. Genocide fosters more genocide. Evil promotes more evil. We can't make these things go away merely by letting those "in authority" tend to them. Because they haven't.

To our everlasting shame.

So write to me, and we'll talk. I'm selling absolutely nothing. When I first learned, in '94, entirely by accident at the library, about this genocide, I was horrified.

Since then, I've chosen to dedicate all I possibly can to undoing the black horror in Sudan. Unfortunately, I'm severely disabled, and had to move to Mexico in '94, so I couldn't continue doing research till I got the Internet down here. I'm also not wealthy; SS Disability only.

What I did instead was to establish an empowerment project with the indigenous Huichol. If it could help them, an adaptation of it might be possible for the black indigenous people in southern Sudan (called "Nilotes," because their cultures have existed along the two Nile Rivers since the dawn of mankind). In the nine years I worked with them, my project with the Huichol became successful. They are delighted with the results. They don't need my help any more, so I'm out of it now. I have to be; my health is too fragile now.

Peacekeeping efforts with Sudan will always fail. It has been given all the time it needs to stop the slaughter, yet it continues.

Genocidal regimes NEVER stop their slaughtering. Force is all they understand or respect. Diplomats and peacekeepers, to them, are weak. But they can be used easily as a delaying tactic. Meanwhile, they can merrily genocide. This regime will not cease until it is overthrown, or they all die natural deaths (dream on), or the world steps in with military. I'm a dove, so I don't like that last part, but acknowledge the absolute necessity of it. The kind of mind capable of contemplating, let alone committing, genocide, is evil to the core. Irretrievably so.

Maybe there won't be a bloody thing we can do to help. But not trying guarantees that nothing will get done. So let's talk.

Leena said...

You write very well.