ICC escalates pressure on Sudan
Published Jun 14, 2009 8:59 PM
International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has called for the
immediate arrest of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on charges of war
crimes and crimes against humanity. The Hague-based court indicted Al-Bashir in
March in connection with the government’s efforts to halt rebel attacks
in the western Darfur region of the central African state.
“The government of Sudan has the responsibility to arrest him
[al-Bashir],” Moreno-Ocampo told the United Nations Security Council on
June 5, citing legal obligations mandated by the U.N. Charter and
In addition, the ICC prosecutor told the Security Council that the Sudanese
government “has also the duty to arrest” Sudanese ex-minister Ahmad
Haroun and Civil Defense Forces leader Ali Kushayb who were also cited by
Moreno-Ocampo for alleged war crimes in the Darfur region of the country.
Moreno-Ocampo then accused the Sudanese government of violating U.N.
resolutions by appointing Haroun as governor of South Kordofan province.
“We are at a crossroads. There’s a chance to stop the violence.
Crimes have to be stopped,” the ICC prosecutor said.
In the aftermath of these statements by Moreno-Ocampo, the Sudanese Ambassador
to the United Nations, Abdel-Haleem Abdel-Mahmood, confronted the ICC
prosecutor outside the Security Council chambers, resulting in a near-clash
between the two men. Abdel-Mahmood accused the Moreno-Ocampo of being a
“liar” and said his actions are promoting the destruction of
The “official called on the United Nations Security Council to put an end
to Ocampo’s mandate saying that his government appointed a special
prosecutor to look into crimes taking place in Darfur. He also described Ocampo
as ‘the man on his left’ as a ‘fugitive from Sudanese
justice’ and said that the ICC prosecutor is practicing ‘criminal
tourism’ with his backers around the world.” (Sudan Tribune, June
The U.N. Security Council was not expected to take any action or issue a
statement in response to the ICC report. Russia and China, two permanent
members of the Security Council, have in the past blocked actions against
Abdel-Mahmood reiterated the position of the Sudanese government: “We are
not going to cooperate with this politically motivated court [the ICC].”
He went on to say: “The prosecutor has outlived his usefulness and has
become a liability for his own promoters.” (AFP, June 5)
Sudan rejects isolation
Despite these charges against the Sudanese leader, the government has remained
defiant and is refusing to cooperate with the ICC. President Al-Bashir traveled
to Zimbabwe on June 6 in order to participate in a Common Market for Eastern
and Southern Africa regional conference. He was welcomed by Zimbabwe
Vice-President Joice Mujuru and President Robert Mugabe.
The Zimbabwe Minister of Justice Patrick Chinamasa said that the Sudanese
leader was welcome to visit the country. “We are aware that the President
of Sudan is under an ICC warrant of arrest which he disputes. We are not a
state party under the Rome Statue. We have no obligation under the Statue of
Rome to execute that obligation,” he said. (Sudan Tribune, June 6)
President Al-Bashir has traveled to other countries since the indictments were
issued against him in March. He has visited Qatar, Egypt, Eritrea and Ethiopia
and has been welcomed by the governments of these states.
On June 8 an African Union meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, convened with
representatives of 30 countries who are signatories to the Rome Statue that
established the International Criminal Court. African nations constitute the
largest regional group that has recognized the ICC, yet they are charging that
the court unfairly targets African leaders. All the indictments issued by the
ICC have been against former African leaders and officials, rebel commanders
and, of course, the sitting head-of-state in Sudan.
Although a number of organizations inside the United States and the government
itself have accused Sudan of genocide in Darfur, the ICC indictments speak only
of war crimes and crimes against humanity. In a recent statement by President
Barack Obama in Germany criticizing Sudan and charging the government there
with genocide, the U.S. leader said that his administration is still very much
engaged in seeking a resolution to the conflict in Darfur.
However, the Sudanese foreign ministry spokesperson Ali Al-Sadiq responded to
Obama, saying that the statements made by the U.S. president were “out of
context” and politically motivated. Al-Sadiq pointed out that the newly
appointed U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan, Scott Gration, did not accuse the
African state of genocide during a recent visit to the country.
“Al-Sadiq said that even the judges at the International Criminal Court
dropped the genocide charges against Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir
last March. The Sudanese diplomat’s statements mark a rare criticism of
the new U.S. administration. Washington appeared to soften its tone toward
Khartoum and even suggested that normalizing bilateral relations and lifting
sanctions imposed since 1997 are on the table.” (Sudan Tribune, June
Supporters of the Darfur rebel movements in Sudan have been critical of
President Obama’s efforts in recent months. They are saying that he is
backing away from promises made during the 2008 campaign for Washington to take
an even tougher line toward the Sudanese government on the Darfur
The ICC and the struggle against imperialism
Sudan is one of Africa’s major oil-producing countries, and has therefore
been targeted for destabilization and domination by the Western imperialist
states led by the U.S. The country has maintained an independent domestic and
foreign policy over the last two decades and has refused to cooperate with the
U.S. on a number of its initiatives related to the Iraq war and relations with
Iran and Palestine.
Earlier this year the Israeli Air Force bombed a convoy of vehicles in Sudan,
claiming that the government was involved in arms shipments from the Islamic
Republic of Iran to Palestinians in Gaza. The Darfur support movement in the
United States is largely composed of pro-Israeli organizations that have
continued to make unsubstantiated claims of genocide against the Al-Bashir
In a recent article by Zafar Bangash entitled “The ICC: An Instrument of
Imperialism,” the author states: “Church groups, Zionists and a
number of Western governments are interfering in Sudan. Since all people in
Darfur are Muslim, the anti-Muslim card cannot be used as was so effectively
done in Southern Sudan. Here, an ethnic twist is utilized: the Darfurians are
presented as ‘Africans’ while the central government in Khartoum is
run by ‘Arabs.’
“Why Arabs cannot be Africans is not explained but the propagandists can
count on the ignorance of their own people, especially in North America. Africa
is a continent and being African is not an ethnic label: if white South
Africans are considered Africans because they reside in an African country, on
what logic are northern ‘Arab’ Sudanese excluded from being
When the Rome Statute was established in 2002, only 66 of the world’s 192
countries ratified it. That is only one-third of the recognized states in the
United Nations. At present the number of signatories to the Rome Statute have
reached a total of 108 states.
Even three permanent members of the Security Council, the U.S., Russia and
China, have not ratified the Rome Statute and are therefore not bound by the
ICC. Nevertheless, the ICC is being utilized by the imperialist states to
undermine the sovereignty of Sudan.
The fact that only Africans have been indicted by the ICC calls its legitimacy
into serious question. Bangash points out in his article: “The
non-ratifiers clearly have no faith in it for a variety of reasons ranging from
reluctance to relinquish sovereignty to seeing it as the white man’s
“Since the overwhelming majority of countries in the world fall in the
category of ‘non-white’ and are situated in the South—as
opposed to the European and North American North—this division clearly
comes into play.”
Moreover, the genocidal policies carried out historically by the Western
imperialist states have never been addressed by any of the existing
international bodies. The founding of the European colonies in the Western
Hemisphere resulted in the mass extermination of the Indigenous peoples of the
Caribbean, Latin America and North America.
In addition, the Atlantic slave trade that went on for over three centuries
transported tens of millions of Africans from the continent to the Western
Hemisphere for the sole purpose of labor exploitation. Millions of Africans
died in the process, and even today there has never been any effort to pay
reparations or make amends for this historical injustice.
Over the last two decades from 1991 to 2003, over 1.5 million Iraqis have died
as a result of the Gulf War and sanctions. The invasion and occupation of Iraq
led by the U.S. and Britain from 2003 to 2009 has brought about the deaths of
another 1.3 million people, and the displacement of 4 million others.
There is well-documented evidence of torture and other crimes against humanity
leveled by the U.S. against people in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan,
Pakistan and Somalia. Yet the ICC or other Western-based and -controlled
institutions have taken no action against these horrendous crimes.
Consequently, targeting Sudan by the imperialist states must be opposed by
anti-war and social justice advocates in the Western countries. This
double-standard must be exposed and the real perpetrators of racism, national
oppression and genocide should be brought to justice for their crimes against
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