Monday, July 14, 2008

The International Criminal Court (ICC) charged Sudanese president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, with genocide and crimes against humanity in relation to the murder of approximately 300,000 Darfurians. Men, women and children have been losing their lives in Darfur for over 5 years and despite outcry from within Sud an, Africa and the entire world, it appears that the crisis in Darfur simply continues to fester.

Killing members of the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups
Causing these groups serious bodily or mental harm
Inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about these groups' physical destruction
Crimes against humanity:
Forcible transfer
War crimes:
Attacks on civilians in Darfur
Pillaging towns and villages


When I heard of the plans to place charges against al-Bashir, I was hesitant to get excited. While I believe that taking al-Bashir and/or anyother leader that fails their duty to protect the lives of citizens to court, I wondered about the impact that such charges could have on Darfurians who are technically refugees in their own country. Well, not too long after the announcement that the ICC was not only charging al-Bashir but also seeking an arrest warrant, news broke out that UN staff would be removed from Darfur.There are over 1300 civilian staff stationed in Sudan to assist Darfurians. In addition to these individuals are 9600 troops, the majority of whom are Nigerian soldiers charged with the responsibility of protecting African Union/UN interests and people. These troops were having a hard enough time protecting Darfurians from Sudanese government-backed Janjaweed militants. What will now happen to the people of Darfur who already are living a misearable existence once the only barrier they had towards attack leaves?

Nevertheless, regardless of my disagreement with the choices that have been made, I understand why the UN is removing its staff and I understand why the ICC took these legal steps against al-Bashir. I can only hope that this will be a warning to every despotic, irresponsible, illegal, and downright evil ruler (democratic or otherwise) that blatantly disregards the rights of human beings. Considering what is happening in Zimbabwe with the terror being unleashed on Anti-Mugabe groups and the overwhelming failure of the African Union to take decisive action against Mugabe, maybe these charges against al-Bashir will remind leaders/rulers/despotic juntas (a la Myanmar/Burma) that they do not have impunity to destroy the lives of others.

With regard to the Zimbabwe situation, where Nigeria played a direct role in placing Mugabe in power [1], Nigeria should be playing a larger role in returning that country to democracy, but as I pointed out in my "Soiled Hands" Theory, there are serious self-created obstacles to achieving that objective. Despite this and despite the similar issues surrounding Nigeria's last elections, President Yar'Adua at least was the first African head of state to openly criticize Mugabe at the recent African Union (AU) meeting in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. Additionally, in Sudan, Nigeria should remember that apparently "a large chunk of the Sudanese population can trace at least 50% of their ancestry to Nigeria" and we could do more than just sending our troops. and merely issuing But, at this moment, I think African presidents like Yar'Adua are too busy battling with the problems within their borders to focus on issues outside their territories. Let us all keep the people of Darfur and oppressed people everywhere in our thoughts and prayers.

[1] - In 1976, then-military ruler, Olusegun Obasanjo waited for Queen Elizabeth to leave England on a flight before nationalizing British Petroleum Company. The regime then used this act as a warning and negotiating tool to influence Great Britain in the ongoing negotiations for an independent Zimbabwe.

Further reading:
- 'Soiled Hands' & Strategy":What Nigeria Says About Democracy
- Nigeria, Mugabe & The ICC
- Zimbabwe

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pamela said...


Doja said...

The ICC should also charge George bush and tony Blair.

Uzezi said...

and it surprises me that some people in sudan still have time to support their president and say he did nothing wrong

naijaLines said...

I agree with Doja!

naijalines said...

I agree with Doja! Hope this gets recorded as two comments o :)

Femi B said...

I have finally completed my letter oh... Yoruba is hard work oh.

TheAfroBeat said...

Wow about the Sudan-Nigeria ancestry!! THE Africa Continent never ceases to amaze me.

I went through the exact sentiments you describe when I heard the ICC prosecutor issue the charges against Al-Bashir...what will happen to the people in Darfur now? Things surely can't get better can they? But i too understand that they had to do what they had to. Let al-Bashir know that he is being watched. I really hope the ICC backs up the warrant, otherwise other war criminals will begin to take it's authority for granted.

As for Nigeria playing a role in uprooting Uncle Bob, i wouldn't hold my breath. As you said, Yardy has enough home fires to put out.

Thanks for sharing!

Bola said...

Obasanjo should also be tried cos he did the same thing at Odi.Let ICC procecute al-bashir bashir so others can learn and stop their evil deeds.

guerreiranigeriana said...

...i'm not so sure i have any faith in these so-called international governing bodies...i agree with doja that bush and blair should also be tried...but if i follow in that vein, the majority of leaders would be tried...and after they are tried, then what?...what happens to the men who are on the ground implementing the evil that al-bashir has envisioned?...and of course the civilians?...this darfur thing really annoys me beyond words now...300,000 men, women and children over 5 years and the rest of the world sits quietly, a little chirp here and there...pitiful...

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