Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bashir's Indictment Brings Mixed Views

Following up on the indictment of Sudan's president Bashir, a more in-depth look into reactions around the world is necessary and it looks as though the majority are leaning against the ICC's decision.

The Economist published a great piece that captured the teeter-tottering question of whether this will actually help Sudan or indeed hurt it even more:

"Will things get bloodier if the indictment goes ahead? It is not clear either way. Last year the court indicted the minister for humanitarian affairs in the Sudanese government, together with a janjaweed leader. There was certainly no reduction in the violence then, but nor did it get worse. Nor is it clear how the UN Security Council will react. Justice must give way to peace, pragmatists cry. But there can be no lasting peace without justice, idealists reply."

Reactions from bloggers in Sudan, the rest of Africa and other regions offer a sobering view on the genocide charges with fear looming about what will become of the already unstable nation. Global Voices Online compiled this extensive look into the blog world. I'm not even going to try and summarize because they provided such an in-depth collection of the overall opinion floating around that it's best if you take a look for yourself.

But I will draw attention to some who have come to the defense of the indictment to provide a more balanced debate. Support of the decision has surfaced in Kenya with this article reporting that Kenyans believe Bashir should appear to the ICC to state his role in the genocide. An editorial that ran in Kenya's Daily Nation called the move "the single most important development in the long struggle to end the mass slaughter in the Darfur region," because it will send an important message to leaders across the world--including the U.S.:

"American forces in Iraq have been accused of activities verging on war crimes. There will be some who think President Bush should also be in the dock."

Other supporters have included human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Refugees International who issued this statement on Reuters, citing the decision as "correct and necessary." HRW issued a press release also voicing support.

The general argument on the human rights front is that this indictment will send a forceful message along with becoming a catalyst to end the atrocities that are occurring.

I'm teeter-tottering on this myself.

This is the first indictment on the Hague's behalf and the concept of ownership can be extremely powerful--as discussed in my posts about satellite imagery making a compelling argument for human rights abuses. Being held responsible for acts of genocide is just another facet to that ownership.

But it's necessary to take into consideration the dire consequences this could have, which bloggers throughout Africa, including the Sudanese, are rightfully expressing concern for. Not only may this result in backlash from the Janjaweed against civilians but also the UN peacekeepers and humanitarian aides.

It's too early to determine whether the indictment will have any positive effect on the crisis in Darfur but all situations need to be carefully weighed as the ICC moves forward.

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