We stand firm with a mon­ster

CityPress - - Front Page - Mondli Makhanya voices@ city­press. co. za

Imag­ine a coun­try run by a despotic dic­ta­tor who bru­talises his cit­i­zens, sets the se­cu­rity forces upon op­po­nents and spon­sors armed mili­tias to carry out mas­sacres against in­no­cent civil­ians – par­tic­u­larly those of a dif­fer­ent hue. No need to imag­ine it. It ex­isted. It was called apartheid South Africa. That coun­try’s gov­ern­ment was treated like a skunk by the world, es­pe­cially by other African coun­tries.

That coun­try also ex­ists to­day. It is called Su­dan. The dif­fer­ence though is that its leader, Omar al-Bashir, is em­braced by fel­low African lead­ers. He at­tends sum­mits where he poses for pic­tures with fel­low heads of state and is fêted as an anti-im­pe­ri­al­ist cru­sader by his African Union (AU) col­leagues. So in­fat­u­ated is the African elite with this despot that the gov­ern­ment of the most demo­cratic coun­try on the con­ti­nent was pre­pared to lie, cheat and uri­nate all over its laws to pro­tect al-Bashir.

This past week saw a de­spi­ca­ble out­pour­ing of sol­i­dar­ity with this mon­ster. We saw African lead­ers – and African in­tel­lec­tu­als – show­ing that they cared more about anti-West pos­tur­ing than about the plight of Africans who suf­fer and die at the hands of dic­ta­tors. The shield­ing of alBashir from pros­e­cu­tion – on the spu­ri­ous pre­text that the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court (ICC) is an in­stru­ment of Western pow­ers and only tar­gets African lead­ers – is to deny jus­tice to the 400 000 peo­ple who were killed and the 2.2 mil­lion who were dis­placed by al-Bashir’s se­cu­rity forces and mili­tias.

Let us be­gin by dis­miss­ing the com­plaint that the ICC “tar­gets” African lead­ers to foster an im­pe­ri­al­ist agenda on the con­ti­nent.

Al-Bashir’s gov­ern­ment has had a Pan-Ara­bic fo­cus and been more aligned to Mid­dle Eastern is­sues than African ones. The US’s an­tag­o­nism to­wards him is be­cause this lean­ing saw him har­bour groups such as al-Qaeda, which it clas­si­fied as ter­ror­ist, and not be­cause of pro­gres­sive lean­ings on his be­half.

The regime’s dis­crim­i­na­tion against blacks in Su­dan is well doc­u­mented, hence the ease with which it slaugh­tered peo­ple in the Dar­fur re­gion.

The regime has also bru­talised cit­i­zens who prac­tised African re­li­gions, along with Chris­tians and Mus­lims who did not sub­scribe to al-Bashir’s de­sire to turn Su­dan into a theoc­racy. Why he is a poster boy for African pride de­fies logic.

Oth­ers in­dicted by the ICC also hardly posed a threat to the West. They in­cluded the lead­ers of Uganda’s crazed Lord’s Re­sis­tance Army and Con­golese rebels who killed, raped and pil­laged in the hin­ter­land. They in­clude Kenya’s ul­tra­cap­i­tal­ist pres­i­dent, Uhuru Keny­atta, whose net worth is es­ti­mated at $500 mil­lion (R6 bil­lion) and the klep­to­ma­niac and mur­der­ous Charles Tay­lor.

Aside from the late lu­natic Muam­mar Gaddafi and Ivory Coast’s Lau­rent Gbagbo, the in­dicted lead­ers are all re­ac­tionar­ies. Col­lec­tively, they have caused the deaths of hun­dreds of thou­sands of Africans and turned mil­lions into refugees.

Now the call among ICC haters is that al­leged African per­pe­tra­tors should not face “Western” jus­tice, but rather African jus­tice and be tried ac­cord­ing to African norms. That is well and fine. But at­tempts to de­velop the African Court of Jus­tice and Hu­man Rights into a strong in­sti­tu­tion that does pre­cisely that have been stymied by a lack of in­ter­est by AU mem­ber states, the main crit­ics of the ICC.

De­spite a pro­to­col giv­ing birth to the court be­ing signed in 2008, only a hand­ful of coun­tries have rat­i­fied it.

But dur­ing the pe­riod in which they failed to push for their par­lia­ments to rat­ify the pro­to­col, AU lead­ers have found the energy to pass a res­o­lu­tion giv­ing sit­ting heads of state im­mu­nity.

There is clearly lit­tle ap­petite among our con­ti­nent’s lead­ers to have a sys­tem that will hold them ac­count­able. So much for African jus­tice for African peo­ple.

This is not to say that all the crit­i­cisms lev­elled at the ICC are wrong. The sys­tem is def­i­nitely flawed. The vol­un­tary na­ture of ac­ces­sion to the ICC has en­abled pow­er­ful coun­tries to re­main out­side the sys­tem. As a re­sult, the lead­ers of Rus­sia, the US and China – coun­tries who are of­ten ag­gres­sors or have dodgy hu­man rights records – will never be held ac­count­able for acts that they au­tho­rise.

And Is­rael, which has one of the world’s most evil regimes, will never have its lead­ers hauled be­fore the ICC be­cause it has the pro­tec­tion of a few pow­er­ful UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil mem­bers.

But this flaw does not mean that the peo­ple of the planet should be left naked and vul­ner­a­ble to the cruel deeds of dic­ta­tors. It does not mean that Africans, who for his­tor­i­cal rea­sons have some of the worst hu­man rights vi­o­la­tors in the world, should be left at the mercy of bad men like al-Bashir while the sys­tem is fixed.

So be­fore we protest loudly against the ICC and pledge sol­i­dar­ity with al-Bashir and Charles Tay­lor, let us first think of the African peo­ple who are the vic­tims of their atroc­i­ties.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.