Saturday, March 7, 2009

Our S.O.B- What comes first, peace or justice?

Michael White put it in a good way @ his Guardian column .
It's not a generalization to say that the overwhelming majority of Sudanese people despise Bashir. They would love to see him ousted, they desperately want a new president. But the ICC's arrest warrant was issued at a tricky time. The international community expresses moral outrage at "some" conflicts and there are obvious double-standards to matters of justice. So, Bashir is going to rally support from his people and the Arab and African worlds.

The scenario is such a common post-colonial one, the south VS. the "hypocritical" north.

Justice is seen to be selective. The scary part is human rights abusers such as Bashir , Mugabe and many others are manipulating this to their own benefit. So until "all" countries are literally forced to ratify the Rome Stature and all human rights abuses go punished, Mugabe is going to call aid agencies a colonial conspiracy and Bashir is going to call the ICC the White Man's Tribunal.

So Michael White got it right, He may be a SOB, but he is our SOB.

I really think that it's absurd to say that Bashir shouldn't be tried because other war criminals are not tried and accused of committing atrocities, it's only fair for Bashir to be tried along with other war criminals. The list is long...
James Tyson from NJ wrote an interesting letter in the NY Times. He said that "Regardless of the local tumult it may temporarily create, or the difficulties involved in actually arresting President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan, the court’s decision to uphold the preservation of human rights over sovereign immunity sets an essential precedent".
Let's revisit the "local tumult" it's going to create for a bit. It seems that the only individuals benefiting from the decision right now are activisits living in faraway places. In Darfur, the effects were definitely felt, many aid organizations were kicked out. People are surprised, they obviously forgot the Government of Sudan's recent warnings. A UN official called it a "worst case scenario". What did people expect? The government is going to hold it's citizens hostage while it buys more time to stay in power and rally support against what they called the "white man's tribunal".

Update:- I found an interesting article in the Economist about trying Bashir in Sudan.
Read it

"It is an intriguing proposal. The idea of mixing national and international procedure has been accepted in Sierra Leone and Cambodia. And Mr Mahdi has huge weight, as head of the Umma party, Sudan’s main opposition. He was the last prime minister to be democratically elected, back in 1986. He is also the spiritual leader of the powerful Ansar sect. Like many others, he says an ICC indictment of Mr Bashir would lead to “chaos” in Sudan; he hopes that his third way would “reconcile stability with accountability”."

As much as this idea seems noble. Sudan's judiciary is a total mess.

I know since we had to bribe someone to give us our own house back.

Sudanese law doesn't exactly include laws against war crimes or crimes against humanity, unless you want to try Gosh and Bashir for murder, it's difficult to try them in Sudan. Even if the trial was to take place in Sudan, we have to abide by international law. Let's not forget that trying a president is merely a "symbolic" act. Even if he went to prison or faced execution, Justice doesn't end there. Militias need to be tried. Torturers need to be charged. Embezzlers need to be located.

Note to the Save Darfur Coalition and George Clooney:- applaud your success for now given that you are not going to be in Sudan with us nursing a disintegrating country when "things fall apart" :)

An Example I thought of :-
I tried to think of something to describe the arrest warrant, this is what came to mind.

300,000 people died in 6 years of fighting in Darfur, we need to bring their killers to justice.

Imagine this for now, there is a house on fire. Some people are dead and some are stuck in a room and you have the means to save them. What do you do? Do you start collecting dead bodies for burial or do you save the individuals stuck in a room?

By choosing justice before peace, we are burying the dead bodies and not taking into consideration the millions of people we need and we could save.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think I would agree IF the ICC was the ONLY response from the international community... but it aint.