Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bashir's New Best Friends: Museveni and Kagame

By Black Star News Editorial

al-Bashir: But I'm not the only mass killer in Africa why pick on me?

Anyone familiar with the politics of genocide wouldn't be surprised that Uganda, a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council last week voted against executing the arrest warrant for Sudan's president Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

Bashir is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Darfur conflict. Many of the rebels there also have blood-stained hands; but they are supported by the West and in conformity with the politics if international hypocrisy will get away.

Back to Uganda's support for Bashir. Uganda's foreign affairs minister, Sam Kutesa, who faces numerous corruption allegations within his own country, recently said it was important to consider "peace" in the Sudan while weighing the wisdom of arresting Bashir. The good minister and his government shed crocodile tears. We will return to this matter shortly.

Similarly, the government of Rwanda doesn't favor Bashir's arrest either, even though that country saw the killings of an estimated anywhere between 500,000 to 800,000 in 1994.

Why have these countries, apart from China, emerged as Bashir's best friends?

These African countries, ostensibly, argue that focusing on the arrest of Bashir, would upset the delicate negotiations to restore peace in Sudan's Darfur region. It might also destabilize the entire Sudan by promoting challengers to Bashir's rule --his regime is despotic but "stable they argue-- and undo the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended almost four decades of war between Southern and Northern Sudan.

These are all legitimate observations. Yet, coming from leadership of these two African countries, it's akin to Mafia dons calling a conference to combat crime.

There are other convenient and more self-serving reasons for both Uganda and Rwanda to befriend the good al-Bashir.

Uganda invaded Congo in 1997, and in 1998, and occupied the eastern region until 2005; it still clandestinely supports militias there. During its occupation, Uganda's army, under president and commander in chief Yoweri Museveni, committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, and possibly genocide; it also robbed Congolese mineral wealth and natural resources.

Some of the crimes are so chilling, it's hard to accept people could commit such acts against others. They are well documented and here is one must-read link:

Uganda found liable for war crimes in Congo by the International Court of Justice in 2005 and Congo was awarded $10 billion in compensation. Uganda's best prayer is for something to happen to Congo's president Joseph Kabila and that the case never be pursued. Recently Museveni paid Kabila a "friendly" visit; the Congo president should always keep an eye on his cup of tea before sipping whenever he visits with the Ugandan. Congolese citizens must not allow Museveni to get away with the crimes committed in eastern Congo, if only to honor the memory of Patrice Lumumba.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is investigating the same crimes committed by Uganda and the Wall Street Journal has reported on a front page story ignored by the New York Times and the BBC that Uganda's military dictator Museveni --who wears a suit and tie when visiting the West-- personally urged then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to block the investigation. Why would a whole president attempt to block an ICC probe unless he knows where it might lead? The ICC has confirmed this ongoing investigation to this newspaper.

The Uganda dictator was protected by the corrupt George Bush Administration, in return for sending troops to Somalia, and the U.K. government, which has business interests in Uganda. Last week, Uganda could not vote for the arrest of Bashir when quite possibly, eventually, there might be an arrest warrant for Museveni himself.

As for Rwanda, a United Nations report in December made clear that the government of Paul Kagame was financing and equipping Laurent Nkunda, the genocidal war lord who has left mass graves all over eastern Congo. Rwanda recently supposedly "arrested" Nkunda. Why has he not been produced or handed over to the International Court? Might he not "disappear" or suffer a mysterious fatal ailment?

Bashir deserves his day in court.

How ironic that his primary blood brothers are now people who are essentially unindicted war criminals; that's the only thing separating Bashir from Museveni and Kagame.

Selective outrage against war crimes only emboldens other killers. Perhaps the Obama Administration will do the right thing and make clear it won't protect African war criminals as the Bush regime did.

Only then, might the ICC act. But we won't hold our breath.


Black Star News

Related Materials:

Press Release: ICC Arrest Warrant for Omar al-Bashir, President of Sudan

HRRF Applauds ICC's Courageous Action

What the Warrant Means: Justice, Peace, and the Key Actors in Sudan


At November 5, 2009 at 5:32 PM , Blogger Ngugi said...

Hello Mamadou. I think your have a sincere mind and heart, but I would like to challenge you on the overall notion of international--universal--criminal justice. First, let me say, I am not an apolegist for any crime against innocent people anywhere in the world, and my thought process is based on what I think is most beneficial for the future of the African continent period.

I don't know if you are aware of this, but the ICC can not take any cases that go back to before the court was founded in 2002. So, thus the invasion of Uganda and all the acts that occur and who was fighting for Museveni is not covered. Neither is what happened in Rwanda, pre and post genocide, and the invasion and subsequent war in Congo.

So, your argument that Museveni and Kagame have some kind of vested personal interest in protecting Bashir, because of what they have possibled done is wrong. I would say also in you making it seem like Kagame's and Museveni's oppossition (especially Kagame) to the ICC is because of some kind of friendship with Bashir is dishonest.

If you are from the Great Lakes you should know Kagame and Museveni's (K & M) regimes are no where near friends of Bashir who armed and protected Kony. Plus as an Arab supremacist, he has a personal distain for Black Africans that we all, and Kagame and Museveni are well aware off.

So, lets get to the meat. Though you may not like these men, as I am sure for sincere reasons, You must know that from the historical facts I just stated that K & M are neither afraid of the ICC personally nor are friends of Bashir.

Now lets get to the meat of what I think it is. I hope you will respond and engage me on this without personal attacks and just looking at the facts of international relations and interest. Both men, but espeically Kagame know that the ICC is simply a tool of Western European states. Yes, you can say Kagame and Museveni are in a way tools of America. But that is the fact of life in the state of violent nature called international politics. But the ICC pretends to be an objective body only interested in bring justice for those in the world that can't do it themselves. That is non-sense.

For example the rebels in Darfur have used child soilders, where is their indictement? They have had childsoilders since 2002. So, yeah you look at it, as if someone is making an excuse for Bashir, but true justice only happens when it happens at home.

If the ICC is about justice, the world and its injustices didn't start in 2002. Bembe is at the ICC, but Kabila also a commander over child soilders during the first war. Nobody is innocent here.

But my more important point is, the principle of allowing organizations started and funded by Europeans in Europe pto recede over cases dealing with African socio-political violence is so counterproductive and shameful.

Africa is the most underdeveloped part of the world, partially due to crimes against humanity inflicted by Europeans. Europeans have a surplus of everything, so there is not competition that would lead to violence. Don't you see the hypocricy in Africans being sent to Europe to face charges on crimes against humanity, espeically when we know it has little to do with justice, and more to do with Europeans making themselves feel good and rightoues about themselves, while really just engaging in selective justice that serves their economic and political ends.

How can you take the Hague seriously. Yes, Bembe did bad thinks, but why is he in Europe, why he is simply being used by Europeans to make themselves look like they care.

At November 7, 2009 at 11:06 AM , Anonymous Umutesi said...

there is a little bit of logical reason missing in one of this dude's argument. he is saying that kagame and museveni should not be tried by the icc because the icc is a european court and europeans committed crimes against africans.

bottom line is, kagame and musevini committed crimes, and they need to be tried. what's the alternative? where should they be tried? or should they just remain unchallenged and with impunity? should countries with criminal pasts (albeit with independent courts), not be allowed to try any forms of terror and human rights in situations where they have the ability and opportunity to be objective due to their lack of personal investments in the conflicts? who should try kagame and musevi?

unfortunately european crimes, while numourous, and while they need to be tried for those crimes, do not replace justice for crimes africans are committing and certainly do not absolve kagame and museveni from the judicial responsibility. instead of attempting to get reparations and get those human rights violations committed by european nations against africans tried, they are instead killing their own people. they also accept weapons and monetary "donations" from these countries, so i argue, that if these countries are good enough to make such welcomed contributions, surely they are good enough to try the crimes as well? after all, their court systems are "fair" and "objective"? is it okay for these guys to accept money and weapons, and when they get caught murdering people and committing crimes against humanity using the said money and weapons all of the sudden they are immune to trial by the said supplier, who also happens to coincidentally be part of the international court system that tries human rights violations (or any other party whose courts are concerned with terrorism, supplier or not?)

while the guy's argument makes sense in a (misguided) pan-african sense of solidarity by protecting (criminals) heads of state from european hypocrisy, unfortunately i have not seen any organization by african heads of states on a mass level where they are challenging european nations with their past crimes. kagame is certainly happy to throw out that the "international community" did not help rwandans in 1994 (which is ironic in its own way) when convenient and when he is trying to make economic gains, but i hardly hear him also throw out the "international community's" overall CRIMES against africans when there is no gains.

At November 7, 2009 at 11:09 AM , Anonymous Carl said...

Dear Ngugi,

Thank you for engaging in this thoughtful discussion.

While I agree that the ICC is a euro/american tool that is not necessarily good for africans especially since they are selective in whom they indict based on political reasons, I disagree with you on several points.

Your statement that K & M crimes in Congo are out of ICC jirisdiction simply because the court covers crimes from 2002 onwards is simply incorrect. My hope is that you are sincerely mistaken instead of dishonest in that claim. K & M and tjeir armies are responsible for mass murderan rape, use of child soldiers, plundering, etc... in years after 2002. I reffer you to the UN security council reports and ICG reports of years after that. Even as late as 2008, kagame was still part of the crimes committed in the Congo. There is plenty of proof. Thomas Lubanga was M7's subordinate in Ituri as was Bosco Ntaganda all after 2002. Nkunda was Kagames man. As was Ntaganda after he switched allience to the CNDP.

Not only could the ICC indict them, there is always a posssibility that a court similar to ICC could have jurisdiction over a period that covers when Congo was invaded. Though crimes were committed even long after as I just said in my point above. Also, don't forget that Rda and Ugda were asked to leave the Congo officially in 2002. They fought in Kisangani in 2002 (check fact here) which is a crime that is also covered by the ICC.

Within their own countries, they have committed crimes againt humanity an in Museveni's case he has committed such crimes and war crimes against the Karimajong for over 20 years until today. As for Kagame, look no further than what happpened to those whoattended rallies of his opponent in the 2003 "elections" and prisoners sent to mine in the Congo.

K&M are responsible for the death of 6 million Congolese since their invasion of the Congo. Some of those millions died after 2002.

Granted they K&M may not be friend with Bashir and the ICC is a hippocritical institution, and that Europeans committed much worse attrocitie in Africa, etc ; PK & YM hands are full of blood and they may not escape international Justice if it is done in a feee and fair way.

All of the above to say that Pk & YM have a lot of reasons to fear such institutions and thus support Bashir out of personal interest as they surely know that one day USA will find them no longer useful and drop them. At which point they may find themselves in a situation similar to Charles Taylor.

Once again thanks for the discussion. Keep it coming.

At November 7, 2009 at 11:13 AM , Anonymous Clement said...

I was expecting to see if this guy (Ngugi), by delegitimating the ICC, would explicitly delegitimate other so-called International Courts including the Hague and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).


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