Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sudan Maintains Defiance Amid Continuing Attacks From Imperialist Countries

Sudan Maintains Defiance Amid Continuing Attacks From Imperialist Countries

ICC accused of igniting strife while Darfur Consortium spreads unfounded claims

by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor
Pan-African News Wire

Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir has refused to cooperate with the so-called International Criminal Court (ICC) which has indicted him and other leaders of Africa's largest geographic nation-state.

In a speech delivered by the president on December 17 in Sinnar state, Al-Bashir claimed that he had been offered immunity from ICC prosecution if the government would agree to hand over two ministers from the Sudanese government, Ahmed Haroun and Ali Koshab. However, Al-Bashir ridiculed the offer saying that he would not turn over a cat to the ICC.

In this same speech delivered on December 17, Al-Bashir also took credit for the growth in Sudan's oil industry over the last decade. He said that the Salvation and Revelation government "succeeded in freeing Sudanese oil from the domination of American companies." (Sudanese Media Center, Dec. 18).

President Al-Bashir went on to point out that despite the sanctions imposed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), many of the goals set by the government have been realized. "We have to depend on our own resources, because we firmly believe that the main priority is to feed and take care of ourselves as a nation," he said.

A recent international conference held in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum supported the government's position towards the ICC. The Committee of Intelligence and Security Services in Africa (CISSA) sponsored the gathering which drew 150 security and intelligence experts from throughout the continent.

The opening address of the conference was delivered by the Sudanese Minister of the Presidency, Lt. Gen. Bakr Hassan Salih and Chief of Security and Intelligence Services, Lt. Gen. Sala Abdallah Goush. Salih stated in his talk that the African continent is witnessing crises in most of its regions which adversely impacts on its security and stability, therefore leaving it behind other developed parts of the world.

"The peoples of Africa are looking forward to this workshop to come up with recommendations that endorse political and legal stances that reject domination in the name of justice. Most significantly among these is the stance adopted by the African Union summit earlier in the year at Shar-al-Shiekh, Egypt."

In the speech delivered by Lt. Gen. Goush, he explained that "the activities of the ICC in targeting some countries in Africa exacerbated conflicts and therefore halted development." He went on to say that "the steps taken by Sudan to restore stability after signing the peace agreement with Darfur rebels did not please the colonial powers, so they used the ICC to pressure the government through baseless allegations."

ICC Efforts Against Sudan Continues Through UN

Chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo, in an effort to curb opposition to the indictments leveled against the Sudanese president and two ministers, has also proposed to pursue cases against three Darfur rebel leaders in connection with the killings of 12 African Union peacekeepers earlier in 2008.

President Al-Bashir was accused of genocide by the ICC in July of 2008, even though the charges have yet to be confirmed. The ICC actions evoked strong opposition from both the African Union and the Arab League, who have called upon the United Nations Security Council to utilize its special powers under Article 16 of the ICC constitution to suspend the threatened prosecution against Al-Bashir.

This suspension of charges against the president, however, is being linked to the prosecution of the other high level Sudanese officials. Nonetheless, even such a compromise is being rejected by the New York-based Human Right Watch agency, whose spokesperson Sara Darehshori said in November that: "An article 16 deferral will send a messge to human rights abusers around the world that justice can be bargained away." (BBC article, Nov. 20, 2008).

These western-based groups and institutions say that making an exception for Sudan would send the wrong message to other leaders in Africa that are under threat by the ICC. Former leaders and rebel groups from the Central African Republic and Uganda have also requested the suspension of prosecution because such actions would only serve as a major impediment to the overall peace processes taking place in these countries.

Nonetheless, Louise Arbour, a former United Nations human rights monitor has said that "to put ICC proceedings on hold in Darfur would send a dangerous signal to would-be war criminals that justice is negotiable."

Richard Holbrooke, the former United States envoy in the Balkans and an advisor to President-Elect Barack Obama, wrote recently in the Financial Times that: "Suspension may seem a safer course to follow in the short run, but it will embolden him [President Al-Bashir] and other future suspected war criminals."

The Bush administration in a report on Sudan has claimed that genocide is being committed inside the country. The Darfur support campaign inside the United States is largely supported by conservative evangelicals, pro-Israeli organizations and some liberals.

In Darfur itself, the rebel movement has split into at least 12 identifiable factions. According to the Sudanese government, most human rights violations taking place in this region in the western section of the country are being carried out by the rebel groups.

Sudan's government has issued six reasons why it will not cooperate with the ICC. These include the fact that "Sudan is not part of the Rome Statute and hence the Court has no jurisdiction over the situation in Darfur."

Additional reasons cited are related to the deliberations of the African Union, where former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo on behalf of the AU, based opposition on the ICC prosecution to attempts aimed at winning a "secure peace without sacrificing the need for justice." (Sudanese Media Center).

Also, according to the Sudanese government, "the prosecutor is working very hard to criminalize the government and working in contradiction to Article 31 of the Rome Statute, which is governing his actions."

In addition, "the prosecutor has totally politicized the process. For instance, in his last address to the Security Council on 5th June, 2008, the prosecutor stated that he 'collected evidence of a criminal plan based on the mobilization of the whole state apparatus, including the armed forces, the intelligence services, the diplomatic and public information bureaucracies, and the justice system."

Ocampo also added in this statement to the Security Council that: "the Nazi regime invoked its national sovereignty to attack its own population." By drawing an analogy with German fascism, the ICC is seeking to build international support for a regime change policy toward Sudan.

Darfur Consortium Report Refuted by Government

A report released on December 17 by the group known as the Darfur Consortium has once again leveled unsubstantiated charges against the Sudanese government and makes a direct appeal for greater western imperialists involvement inside the country.

The most provocative of the charges made in the report is the allegation that widespread abuses are taking place against children, women and civilians in the Darfur region of Sudan. A BBC article announcing the release of the report is headlined: 'Thosands Made Slaves in Darfur.'

According to the BBC article: "Kidnapped men have been forced to work on farmland controlled by Janjaweed militias, a coalition of African charities says. Eyewitnesses also say the Sudanese army has been involved in abducting women and children to be sex slaves and domestic staff for troops in Khartoum." (BBC News, Dec. 17).

However, the Sudanese government has rejected the claims made in the report, saying that the allegations are "naive" and that the authors for the Darfur Consortium are "ignorant."

"The government does not condone abductions and it is not government policy. We are working hard to stop such violations. The rebel factions are mostly to blame for abductions in Darfur," a governmental spokesperson told the BBC.

The co-chair of the Darfur Consortium, Dismas Nkunda, was quoted by the BBC as saying that: "Urgent action is clearly required to prevent further abductions and associated human rights violaitons, and to release and assist those who are still being held." (BBC News, Dec. 17).

According to the commission's website: "The Darfur Consortium is a coalition of more than 50 Africa-based and Africa-focused NGOs dedicated to working together to promote a just, peaceful and sustainable end to the ongoing humanitarian and human rights crisis in Darfur.

"The Consortium came together in September 2004 as concerned NGOs gathered on the fringes of the third extraordinary session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Pretoria, South Africa. The Consortium reflects the unique perspective of African civil society and provides a forum for unified action, particularly through sustained engagement with the institutions of the African Union."

However, key elements in this agency are based in the western-backed east African nations of Uganda and Rwanda. The use of so-called civil society groups in Africa in recent years have been largely designed to promote imperialist's foreign policy aims and objectives. Criminal actions carried out by the various Darfur rebel groups were absent from the report. Neither was there any analysis of which political interests and states support the Darfur seccessionist movements.

Anti-Imperialists Must Reject Efforts to Destabilize Sudan

An escalation of attacks on the African nation of Sudan must be viewed within the context of the waning influence of United States and other western imperialist states within the international community. Even the United Nations Security Council has rejected several attempts during 2008 to isolate and intensify political and economic pressures against both Sudan and Zimbabwe, two states that have been targeted by the Bush administration and the government of Gordon Brown in London.

In a news report published by the Sudanese Media Center in December, it points out that: "A sea change in the balance of power in favour of China, India, Russia and other emerging states is wrecking European and US efforts to entrench human rights, liberties and multilateralism."

The articles continues by stating that: "Western policies in crisis regions as diverse as Georgia, Zimbabwe, Burma or the Balkans are suffering serial defeats in what the study identifies as a protracted trend. The haemorrhaging of western power, as reflected in longer-term voting patterns in key UN bodies, is mirrored by the increasing clout of China, Russia and the Islamic world, according to an audit of European influence at the UN by the European Council on Foreign Relations." (Sudanese Media Center, Dec. 18).

Consequently, there will be an intensification of the efforts to further destabilize and occupy states that take a political and economic course independent of the United States and other imperialist countries. The role of anti-imperialists based in these western states will be important in regard to providing solidarity with the peoples of the targeted areas in order to expose the true nature of the foriegn policy objectives of world captialism in the present period.
Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of the Pan-African News Wire and has delivered several talks on United States-Sudanese relations over the last two years.

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