Al-Bashir Indictment: The ICC is Hypocritical
On Wednesday March 3, 2009, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the President of Sudan, Africa’s largest country. This in itself is not amazing, given the zeal and selectivity with which the West has pursued and dragged Africans to court on various charges of genocide, recruiting child soldiers and rape, among others. What is amazing, however, is the timidity with which African leaders have accepted this wholesale criminalizing of the African people and their leaders.
Not so long ago, the white governments of Southern Africa, so-called ‘Rhodesia,’ apartheid South Africa, and the Portuguese colonial empire committed depredations against the African populations that were overwhelmingly more devastating and evil than any subsequent intra-African conflicts. Apartheid was a blatant crime against humanity, based on fascistic theories of racial superiority which were brought from Europe by Huguenot interlopers [mostly Dutch, who formed the basis for the ‘Afrikaner’ language] who wiped out indigenous populations, despoiled them of their lands and subjected them to a 300-year system of race rule which became official policy in 1948 when the Boer Nationalists came to power.
|ICC Chief Prosecutor, Moreno Ocampo Photo:Courtesy|
The psychological, social and physical depredations wreaked on the African majority in the full view of the world was an object lesson in man’s inhumanity to man, impelled by a vicious doctrine of racial supremacy. Millions of Africans were imprisoned in concentration camps called ‘bantustans,’ executed both by a justice system that considered them less than human and thousands of extra-judicial killings, deported to bleak gulags like Robben Island, beaten and shot like dogs in the street when they dared protest the unceasing hell a white minority government enforced on a captive people. When the peoples of the Southern Africa justifiably rebelled, the white apartheid government sent in its Western-backed army, air force and Special Forces to kill people, destroy infrastructure, bomb and terrorize the region for years.
White South Africa actively encouraged the armies of Renamo and Unita [Western military proxies used to destabilize the nascent republics of Angola and Mozambique] to bring apocalypse and mayhem to defenseless populations. Yet none of the criminals of the state-sponsored terrorism of apartheid has stood in dock to answer for the unspeakable crimes perpetrated against the African people. Where is the voice of the self-righteous prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo calling for justice for the millions of apartheid’s victims? To put the question bluntly, is it because these criminals are white?
When the first uprisings against the Portuguese Empire started in 1961 in Luanda, Portuguese soldiers sent to the colony to fight the rebellion were told by their officers: ‘You are not going to fight against human beings, but wild beasts which must be exterminated.’ Within the first week, over 200,000 Africans, many of them innocent, were massacred by the Portuguese Army. It was a pattern of brutality and inhumanity which continued for the next 14 years of the colonial wars. Portugal’s soldiers, armed with NATO weapons killed millions, cheered on by the West using the self-delusional excuse that the Portuguese were fighting ‘communism.’ To this day, not a single Portuguese soldier from general to private has been charged with any of the countless crimes committed during 14 years of brutal colonial war. It is as if a blanket has been thrown over the truth and a fence of untouchability wrapped around it.
The state terror of the so-called ‘Rhodesian’ government caused the death and dislocation of thousands. State policy was simply one of extermination against Africans despite what revisionist white historians try to aver otherwise. ‘Rhodesian’ troops invaded neighbouring countries, ostensibly in the pursuit of guerrillas but with the express purpose of terrorizing, killing and intimidating the population so that they would cease any support for the liberation struggle. Ian Smith, who oversaw the extra-judicial killings and genocidal policies borrowed from the apartheid regime never saw the inside of a courtroom and to his dying day never regretted the depredations of his criminal regime. Neither the generals, nor the foot-soldiers of the white army including the notorious war criminals called the Selous Scouts were ever called to account for the crimes of murder, genocide and terrorism committed by the ‘Rhodesian’ army.
When the Germans held Namibia, then known as South West Africa, they faced revolts by the indigenous people, the most serious coming from the Herero people. The Germans put the revolt down with unmitigated savagery. Genocidal pogroms almost wiped out the
Herero. Whole villages were slaughtered, babies thrown up in the air and spitted on German bayonets, livestock destroyed and wells poisoned. When the Namibian government recently petitioned the Germans for reparations, the Bonn government merely apologized [the popular mea culpa of our times] and flatly refused to even countenance discussion about reparations for these crimes against humanity.
In the 1930s when Italy invaded Ethiopia [then called Abyssinia] to subdue the population, they used poison gas dropped from airplanes, followed by the wholesale slaughter of towns and villages, extra-judicial killings[called targeted assassinations these days] and the deliberate starvation of the population. At the end of the war, as the victors were setting up their courts to try Japanese and German war criminals, Emperor Haile Selassie petitioned to have the Italians brought to book for their war crimes. Viscount Lord Montgomery, the nemesis of Rommel and an unapologetic racist, violently blocked the Emperor’s demands. Italy’s war crimes against the Ethiopians seem to have been censored out of the history of World War Two. It would appear that white war criminals lead a charmed life, especially when the crimes are committed against Africans. Much propaganda and misinformation has been peddled in the Western press about the ‘situation’ in Dar-Fur.
Self-serving celebrities, who have discovered the best way to keep in the public eye is to adopt an African child, visit a refugee camp or make fatuous comments on complicated African issues, have discovered Dar-Fur and with the zeal of the misguided and ill-informed pronounce themselves authorities on complex issues. Muammar Gaddafi once said the whole episode of Dar-Fur can be boiled down to a fight over a camel. There is some truth in this. The Western press had initially nurtured the fiction that the crisis was battle between ‘black Africans’ and Arabs. When it turned out that all parties to the conflict were Muslims and in many cases physically indistinguishable from their purported attackers, that particular brand of race-baiting was retired and the numbers game began: first 400,000 killed, then 300,000 and after the UN revised its figures the media settled on 200,000.
The war in Dar-Fur is claimed to have started in 2003 when aggrieved Darfuris took up arms against the Khartoum government because it was neglecting the region and not sharing the wealth. The astounding fact is that the rebels emerged well-armed and uniformed as if made to order with names like the Justice and Equality Movement and offices in France and Tel Aviv.
In almost all of Africa’s post independence conflicts, ready-made armies with pristine weapons, uniforms and titles appear- no organizational development, no popular support- just instant rebel army, instant agenda, holding press conferences for Western journalists who conveniently appear at their hideouts with cameras rolling. A case in point is Laurent Nkunda who always seemed to be on the evening news with his dark glasses and walking stick. He received more media exposure than the legitimate Congolese government. So where did the Darfuri rebels come from? They do no fund-raising yet they have offices in Europe and Tel Aviv. They claim to be fighting for the people, yet the people fear them as much as they fear the Janjaweed. Is this a turf battle [or fight over a camel] that has been exploited by outside forces to destabilize the Khartoum government?
Gaddafi mentioned recently that Israel was behind the Dar-Fur crisis. Abdel-Wahid Al-Nur, chairman of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and who lives under French protection in France was quick to protest too much against Gaddafi’s claims. But the fact remains that the SLM has offices in Tel Aviv and has met regularly with Israeli army officers. There is no doubt that Israeli intelligence operates with impunity in the region.
Kenya is a vital Israeli intelligence hub, strategically placed to intervene in and influence the region’s conflicts. In their book, Every Spy a Prince  by Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman, the authors boasted of their control over Kenya which facilitated their ability to run operations in the region. Gaddafi was not just whistling in the dark. Israel with its state policy of weakening and destabilizing perceived enemies would benefit from another weakened and humiliated Muslim regional neighbour. If one traces to their roots the organizations which have been pushing in the United States to keep the Dar-Fur conflict in the public eye, the pattern becomes apparent. The Darfuris are mere spectators at their own tragedy. They did not make it and they have no influence over its outcome. Foreigners and Hollywood movie stars and people in dark intelligence backrooms decide their fate. Omar al-Bashir becomes a test case. Those whom the West disagree with are placed in their gun-sights.
If Africa stands by and lets white foreigners decide the fate of Africans, while white war criminals from some of the most painful and inhumane periods of her history are allowed to go free, then Africa’s independence is a farce, flags, national anthems and bloated armies notwithstanding. Omar al-Bashir is another incremental step in the dismantling of Africa’s independence.
Africa needs its own judicial system which will judge Africans by Africans and not succumb to the so-called International Criminal Court whose obvious although unstated aim is to criminalize the African people, starting with their leaders. Africa needs to leave the ICC and repudiate the juridical farces of the nations which not too long ago held the Continent in thrall and supported the very white war criminals who walk among us today, free, defiant and unchallenged. The voice of the African Union should be raised thunderously in chorus against this neo-colonial instrument of humiliation and control hiding behind fine words of ‘justice’ and ‘the rule of law.’ Today al-Bashir - tomorrow- any one of us.
By Amengeo Amengeo
Specialist in Spanish, Latin American, Caribbean as well as African History. He has also been a journalist, civil servant and graphic artist
Comment on this article!