Friday, 18 July 2008

More please from the likes of Rami G. Khouri

Ironically, the day I post about the lack of American voices on the Opinion pages, and tapping into the IHT's publishing partners, this piece in today's International Herald Tribune from IHT publishing partner The Daily Star's editor-at-large.

Instead of the piece being distributed by Agence Global, when will we see the foundation of something called IHT Global for this type of syndication?

SUDAN AND THE ICCWhose crimes against humanity?

Rami G. Khouri is editor-at-large of The Daily Star and director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut. Distributed by Agence Global.
We stand before a decisive moment, brought on by the call on Monday by a prosecutor at the International Criminal Court for a warrant to arrest the Sudanese president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, on 10 charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his policies in Darfur. This is a moment of historical reckoning for the leaders and people of the Arab world. How they respond to this challenge may well determine whether the region collectively shows its desire to affirm the rule of law as its guiding principle, or moves deeper into the realm of dysfunctional, brittle and violent statehood.It is a classic example of how the Arab world is politically tortured and ethically convoluted by its twin status as both victim and perpetrator of various crimes and atrocities. Bashir is being accused and may be put on trial. But, on another level, many in the Middle East and elsewhere will ask if this move is a new form of racism and colonialism that applies different standards of accountability for different countries.The critics of the ICC should not be dismissed as hopeless despots, nor should the court's potential indictment of Bashir be dismissed as neocolonialism administered through the UN Security Council that asked for the investigation in the first place.The ICC's 10-page summary of Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo's request to arrest Bashir is well worth reading as a starting point for considering whether this move is appropriate or not.
The chilling details in the prosecutor's summary of the case revolve around charges that include acts of murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture, rape, attacks on civilians and pillaging towns and villages. They state that Bashir "masterminded and implemented" a plan to destroy three of the largest ethnic groups in Darfur - the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa - by using the armed forces, the Janjaweed militias, and the entire government apparatus, to specifically and purposefully target civilians.The charges state that over 35,000 people were killed and 2.7 million displaced, and refugee and displaced persons camps were also attacked and harassed, in a policy aimed at destroying these people as distinct groups or tribes. Rape has been a common tactic, they allege, with one third of rape victims being children.

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