Hypocrisy Is Not A Four Letter Word
29 June 2015
By Tariq A. Al-Maeena
A SOUTH African court banned the President of Sudan Omar Al-Bashir from
leaving the country after he had come to attend the African Union Summit
being held in Johannesburg earlier this week. The Pretoria High Court was
responding to a demand from the International Criminal Court (ICC) that the
Sudanese president be arrested and face charges for the deaths of an untold
number of civilians during the civil conflict that centered on the Darfur
region in Sudan.
In a statement from their headquarters at the Hague the ICC said that it
"calls on South Africa... to spare no effort in ensuring the execution of the
arrest warrants" against Bashir. The ICC attempted to persuade South African
diplomats last month to arrest Bashir if he attended the summit, and said:
"South Africa has an obligation to arrest him. Failure to do so puts them in
the same bracket as other African regimes who have no respect for human
rights. It's actually a test for South Africa."
Human Rights Watch, an international NGO chimed in that "Allowing President
Al-Bashir into South Africa without arresting him would be a major stain on
South Africa's reputation for promoting justice for grave crimes. South
Africa's legal obligations as an ICC member mean cooperating in Al-Bashir's
arrest, not in his travel plans."
Bashir is not the first African leader to be investigated by the ICC. The
organization's selective targeting of African leaders was brought up during
the summit and many suggested that all African states abrogate whatever
treaties they had with the organization. This is the same organization that
rejected calls by activists the world over to hold Israel accountable for the
war crimes it has committed over the years, causing people to repeatedly
question the integrity of the ICC in its dealings with nations.
The court which came into existence in 2002 to prosecute crimes committed by
nations and individuals against civilians has often been referred to as the
"last resort for prosecution of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against
In its short history, the Court has dealt with crimes of aggression primarily
in some countries in Africa. Despite repeated calls, it has continued to
ignore calls for investigations into crimes committed by Israelis against
Palestinians. It has remained mysteriously silent about the massacres of the
residents of Sabra and Shatila and the butchery of civilians in Jenin crafted
by Ariel Sharon the Israeli premier at the time, followed by the public
display of the genocide of the women and children of Gaza at the behest of
the current Israeli premier, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Lest people forget, it was in July of last year that the Israeli war machine
invaded Gaza. Bomb after bomb fell on the defenseless civilians of this
besieged land, a people held hostage and forced to live in concentration camp
conditions. Many independent observers described the onslaught by Israelis as
a continuation of a holocaust against the Palestinians but that did not offer
any comfort or help soothe the nerves of the civilians facing a daily rain of
death. Women and children were specifically targeted as a diabolical Israeli
policy suggested that such a tactic would "break the back of the resistance."
And yet the ICC chose to stay mum.
More than 560 children were victims of Israeli brutality. Over 3,600
civilians lost their lives with 18,000 injured and more than 100,000 left
homeless. A UN report stated that 140 families in Gaza were partially or
completely annihilated by the Israelis in a six-week period. Michael Ratner
of the Center for Constitutional Rights termed Israel's planned ethnic
cleansing and massacres of Palestinians "incremental genocide."
So while the ICC is so busy chasing down African leaders, does it not pause
to wonder about the genocide committed by the Israeli aggression against the
Palestinians? No indeed, they do not seem to. It is a hypocrisy so glaring
that it smacks one in the face. Hypocrisy is not a four letter word, but in
the case of the ICC it should be.
All African nations should withdraw from this duplicitous organization. It
would be the sensible thing to do.
Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He lives in
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.