Op-Ed: Obama—Sudan, Zimbabwe, Turkey and the Rule of Law
Washington, DC—The following Op-Ed appeared in the National Herald of 7-26-08, and in The Greek Star of 7-24-08.
Sudan, Zimbabwe, Turkey and the Rule of Law
By Gene Rossides
July 15, 2008
Current headlines regarding Sudan and Zimbabwe and the rule of law are pertinent to issues of concern to Greek Americans, namely, (1) Turkey’s invasion and continuing occupation of 37 percent Cyprus and its war crimes and crimes against humanity in Cyprus; (2) the persecution of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Eastern Orthodox Christian community, the illegal taking of Church property and the illegal closing of the Halki Patriarchal School of Theology in 1971; and (3) Turkey’s threats of war in the Aegean and outlandish claims to one-half of the Aegean and refusal to recognize publicly the maritime boundary in the Aegean established by treaties.
The prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, for the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague “formally requested an arrest warrant on Monday [July 14, 2008] for Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the past five years of bloodshed in the Darfur region of his country.” (N.Y. Times 7-15-08; A1: col.1)
The ICC was established by the 1998 Rome treaty and became operative in 2002. The United Nations Security Council referred the Darfur matter to the ICC in 2005.
Mr. Moreno-Ocampo, in making the request for the arrest warrant public, stated that Mr. Bashir had “masterminded and implemented” a plan to destroy three main ethnic groups in Darfur, the Fur, the Masalit and the Zaghawa. Mr. Bashir used government soldiers as well as Arab militias and “purposefully targeted civilians” belonging to these groups. They killed 35,000 persons “outright” in attacks in Darfur towns and villages.
The prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo is from Argentina. He said the Bashir’s “motives were largely political…his alibi was a ‘counterinsurgency.’ His intent was genocide.” Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said that Bashir had failed to defeat a rebellion and then turned against civilians. “Al-Bashir organized the destitution, insecurity and harassment of the survivors. He did not need bullets. He used other weapons: rapes, hunger and fear.”
The prosecutor gave his evidence to the three judges who will decide whether to issue the arrest warrant. A decision is not expected until the fall of 2008.
In interviews reported in the media, the prosecutor has stated: “I say what is going on now is shocking. Genocide is going on now, and it is endangering the lives of many more people… They kill men, children, elderly, women; they subject women and girls to massive rapes…They burn and loot the villages.”
The prosecutor’s charges include three counts of genocide; five counts of crimes against humanity involving, murder extermination, forcible transfer, torture and rape; and two counts of war crimes involving attacks on civilian populations in Darfur and the pillaging of towns and villages.
The United Nations estimates that 300,000 people have died and 2.7 million people have been displaced.
The prosecutor said he had “very strong evidence that al-Bashir controlled everything: the generals, the intelligence, the ministers, the media…The janjaweed militia called him directly for instructions.”
The New York Times in an editorial on July 15, 2008 supported “the decision by the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court to bring charges of genocide against Sudan's president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, for his role in masterminding Darfur's horrors.”
The Times editorial calls on the UN Security Council to do more to pressure Mr. Bashir to “call off his militias, stop obstructing the deployment of a peacekeeping force in Darfur and begin serious peace talks in Darfur. If Bashir decides to cooperate, the Security Council can still suspend the ICC prosecution.”
Regarding the Bush administrations helpful actions on Darfur, the Times editorial stated: “The Bush administration has long accused Bashir and his government of genocide and imposed its own strict sanctions. It could still be doing a lot more to rally Security Council action and to directly pressure Sudan. Washington could start today by jamming Sudan's official communications network. If the Security Council will not impose a no-flight zone - to ground the planes and helicopters Khartoum uses to bomb civilians and supply militias - Washington should turn to NATO.”
As the media has reported at length, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and his supporters used violence to steal the recent presidential election. His actions were condemned by the U.S. and many nations around the world.
His actions were also widely condemned by the media including the New York Times and the Washington Post.
The U.S., to its credit, led the effort in the UN Security Council for sanctions. Specifically the U.S. proposed an arms embargo, the appointment of UN mediator, and travel and financial restrictions against Mr. Mugabe and thirteen top military and government officials. In recent years the Security Council has not used broad trade sanctions because many believed they were too harmful to the general civilian population.
On Friday, July, 11, 2008, the U.S.-led effort in the UN Security Council failed because Russia and China exercised vetoes to stop the resolution on grounds that it was an “excessive interference in the country’s domestic matters.” The U.S. had earlier in the week obtained the nine votes out of the fifteen Security Council votes needed to pass the sanctions.
The decision to move for sanctions followed a June 23, 2008 agreement by all of the 15 Security Council members on “a statement criticizing pre-election violence and saying that it was impossible to hold free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.” (N.Y. Times, 7-12-08; A1; col. 4)
When is the U.S. government going to apply the rule of law to Turkey as we are doing regarding Sudan and Zimbabwe and seek sanctions against Turkey and arrest warrants?
Specifically when is the Executive Branch and particularly the State Department going to stop its double standard on the rule of law in Turkey’s favor? And when is the State Department going to stop the appeasement of Turkey which makes Britain’s appeasement of Hitler in Munich mild by comparison?
Turkey has been a disloyal ally whose actions have seriously damaged U.S. interests in the region. The March 1, 2003 vote not to allow use of Turkish territory to open a second front on Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship seriously damaged the U.S. and was only the latest example of unreliability. There were many previous actions of disloyalty during the Cold War in which Turkey aided the Soviet military that damaged U.S. interests.
Granted, the International Criminal Court was created in 1998 and that Turkey’s invasion and occupation of Cyprus occurred in 1974. However, a number of Turkey’s crimes are of a continuing nature, and action could be taken in the ICC against Turkey.
The government of Cyprus filed three applications to the European Commission on Human Rights. The Commission in its report on July 10, 1976 on the first two applications, found Turkey guilty of violating the following articles of the European Convention on Human Rights:
On January 23, 1977 the London Sunday Times published excerpts of the report and stated: “It amounts to a massive indictment of the Ankara government for the murder, rape and looting by its army in Cyprus during and after the Turkish invasion of summer 1974.” (London Sunday Times, page 1, col.1)
Action in the ICC should be seriously considered now particularly since the evidence is mounting regarding the complicit role of Henry Kissinger by encouraging Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974.
The policy the U.S. should follow was formulated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower during the 1956 Suez Crisis when he stopped and reversed the invasion of Egypt by Britain, France and Israel. In a memorable speech on October 31, 1956 to the nation in support of the rule of law and the United Nations, Eisenhower said in part:
“There can be no peace without law. And there can be no law if we were to invoke one code of international conduct for those who oppose us and another for our friends.”
Op-Ed: Obama—Sudan, Zimbabwe, Turkey and the Rule of Law