European court issues arrest warrant
Africans rally behind Sudan president
Published Mar 12, 2009 8:46 PM
Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir visited the North Darfur state capital of
El-Fasher on March 8 in defiance of an International Criminal Court warrant
issued for his arrest just a few days before. It was the first ICC warrant
issued against a sitting head of state. As he addressed a rally of tens of
thousands of supporters, the president defied the ICC and its imperialist
Tens of thousands rally in Darfur March 8.
The ICC had been threatening to indict al-Bashir for several months, ostensibly
over the Sudan government’s handling of the conflict with separatist
movements in Darfur, a region in the west. The ICC’s charges allege war
crimes in Darfur, but interestingly enough do not include charges of
President al-Bashir drove from the El-Fasher airport in an open vehicle to the
center of the regional capital. Thousands waved flags and photographs of the
president while chanting slogans such as “Down, down Ocampo,” in
reference to ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo. Other slogans included attacks
on the role of the United States in the recent provocations against Sudan.
“Down, down America,” the rally participants chanted.
Far from being isolated in this struggle with the ICC, Sudan’s government
has support from the African Union and from the Arab League, as well as from
the population at home.
Sudanese living in Syria rally in Damascus
Inside the United States, anti-war and anti-imperialist forces should also
speak out forcefully against the indictment of the Sudan leader. The ICC and
its imperialist backers have no moral, legal or political right to call for the
arrest and prosecution of a sitting head of state on the African continent.
The countless war crimes committed over the last seven years in Afghanistan,
Iraq and Haiti by the U.S. and its allies have resulted in no investigation,
let alone indictments, from the ICC or other so-called international courts
based in The Hague in Europe.
The African Union, the organization that represents 53 independent states on
the continent, said after a meeting on March 5 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that
it would attempt to halt the indictment because it jeopardizes the ongoing
peace efforts between the central government in Sudan and the Darfur rebel
Palestinian supporters of Sudan’s President
Omar Hassan al-Bashir rally on March 10.
The banner reads, ‘Palestinian people in
Lebanon’s camps stand by Sudanese
President and people against colonisation—
the Palestinian Resistance Factions&’
The ICC has mainly targeted former African governmental and rebel leaders,
bringing on charges that it is biased in its approach to the interpretation of
international law. Moses Wetangual, the Kenyan foreign minister, has stated
that the activities of the ICC are “very suspect. Look at the manner in
which they have handled African issues. It’s not just the ICC in The
Hague, the application of so-called universal jurisdiction in criminal matters
has been laced with some racial undertones.”
African Union, Arab League hit ICC
AU chairperson Muammer al-Qaddafi, who is also leader of Libya, told U.N.
Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon that the “ICC decision of indicting
President al-Bashir angered African, Arab and Islamic nations.” Qaddafi
said that “the ICC decision is a direct violation of the sovereignty of
small independent countries and interference in their domestic
Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, who met with Al-Bashir on March 7 in
Khartoum to discuss the implications of the ICC arrest warrant, expressed the
organization’s support for the Sudanese leader. Moussa had said earlier
that the ICC action had provoked the “anger of the Arab
Additional condemnation of the ICC decision came from the Arab Bar Union on
March 8. A statement issued said “the decision lacks legal evidence. The
ICC decision is illegal based on the fact that Sudan is not party to the ICC
and thereby the court has no jurisdiction over Sudan. ... The ICC indicted
Bashir while its prosecutor ignored atrocities committed by Israel on the
Palestinian people. This is done despite the many calls for investigations into
the crimes committed by Israel against Palestinians.” (Sudanese Media
Center, March 8)
The statement urges all African, Arab and Third World countries to quit the
court because it has become a tool of the United States.
Another legal structure, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former
Yugoslavia, issued an arrest warrant against head of state Slobodan Milosevic
in 1999 to increase pressure against the Yugoslav leader while U.S.-NATO bombs
and rockets destroyed his country. Milosevic died under suspicious
circumstances imprisoned in The Hague, Netherlands, in March 2006. Milosevic
had forced the IFCTY to drop “genocide” charges and had just
finished waging a strong defense that exposed U.S. and German imperialist
aggression against the former Yugoslav Socialist Federation.
It is quite obvious that the U.S. and NATO powers are using the ICC to attack
the Sudanese state for political reasons, just as they used the IFCTY in 1999
against Yugoslavia. Sudan, the African continent’s largest geographic
nation-state, is an oil-rich country that has effectively banned U.S. and
British oil corporations from exploiting its natural resources. Some 80 percent
of the oil concessions in the country are carried out in cooperation with the
People’s Republic of China.
Behind the ‘rebel’ movement in Darfur
In the aftermath of the conclusion of a civil war in the south of Sudan between
the central government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM)
in 2003, violence then erupted in the western region of Darfur. The Darfur
separatist movement consists of several groups including the Justice and
Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A). Since
2003, the SLM and JEM have splintered into several other groups. The Sudanese
government says this splintering has complicated its efforts to reach a
workable peace accord with the rebels.
Support for the Darfur separatist groups has been advanced by elements within
the United States. The New York Times has run numerous articles and editorials
that seek to build public support for direct U.S. intervention in Sudan.
Many of the organizations that have played a leading role in the so-called
“Save Darfur” campaign also support the State of Israel in its
continued occupation of Palestine.
Over the last two years, a well-financed campaign has been waged to build
anti-Sudanese sentiment in the United States. A documentary film entitled
“The Devil Came on Horseback” features a U.S. military officer who
went to Darfur ostensibly as a monitor with the African Union peacekeeping
force. The film shows atrocities committed in Darfur and appeals for military
involvement by the West in Sudan.
A Feb. 17 article published in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that a
Darfur rebel movement leader visited Israel for high-level meetings with
Israeli officials. This article also illustrates the base of support that
exists among European imperialist powers for the Darfur campaign.
The Haaretz article states, “Abdel Wahid al-Nur is the head of the Sudan
Liberation Movement. While in Israel, he met with the senior [Israeli] official
and discussed with him the ongoing conflict in Sudan.”
According to the article “Al-Nur came to Israel earlier this month at his
own initiative, to attend the annual Herzliya Conference. He came with a group
of European Jews, most of them French, who have been active on behalf of the
This article goes on to point out that “Al-Nur fled to France in 2007 and
has not been back to Sudan since then. ... In the past, he has spoken in favor
of establishing diplomatic ties between Sudan and Israel, and a year ago, he
even announced that his movement was opening an office in Tel Aviv, staffed by
Sudan gov’t stands fast
The rally in Darfur on March 8 came in the aftermath of a government decision
to expel a number of non-governmental organizations from Sudan. The president
accused the agencies, which are largely Western-based, of interfering in the
internal affairs of the country and carrying out actions in support of the
President al-Bashir went on to say that “They [the ICC] speak as if they
are the masters of the world, as if they determine the fate of all the peoples
of the world. ... We will never hand over any Sudanese citizen. We will not
kneel to them.” (Al-Jazeera, March 8)
At the same time, the government of Sudan has rejected a U.S. proposal to
resolve the crisis. The U.S. has told the Sudanese leader not to stand for
re-election in order to activate Article 16 of the ICC statute and halt the
The Sudan government has rejected this proposal as a blatant interference in
the internal affairs of the country. The U.S. is not a party to the ICC either,
and consequently has no right to suggest how the Sudanese government handles
the current situation.
Since the U.S. intervention into Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti as well as Somalia,
millions of people have been killed and wounded. Millions more have been
displaced internally and as refugees. Any U.S. or British military intervention
in Sudan would only create conditions disastrous to the people of this
The role of progressive forces in the U.S. should be focused exclusively on the
transformation of the regime in Washington from a state based on oppression and
exploitation to a government that supports the interests of the workers and the
oppressed both domestically and internationally.
Articles copyright 1995-2012 Workers World.
Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.
Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
Email: [email protected]
Subscribe [email protected]
Support independent news DONATE