Sudan is Critical

5 10 2008

Today Reuters reports that the foreign minister of Sudan has criticized both US vice presidential contenders, Biden & Palin. They expressed support for the idea of a flying ban over the Darfur region in their recent TV debate.

Sudanese foreign ministry spokesman Ali al-Sadig on Sunday said an air ban would be ineffective because the Sudanese armed forces are only using government planes and helicopters to fight bandits and protect humanitarian convoys.

The Darfur conflict has killed 200,000 – 300,000 and driven more than 2.5 million from their homes, say international experts. Khartoum puts the death toll at 10,000.

Opinion

As I have reported in earlier posts the Darfur situation was recognized as genocide by the Busy administration as long ago as 2004. In September 2004 Secretary Powell officially invoked the term “genocide” to describe what was going on there in testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and  President Bush (white House Press Release, September 9, 2004).

Despite calling it a genocide the U.S. and the rest of the world have taken no effective action to date. UN forces there have no mandate to engage. They are there to observe and offer humanitarian aid. This is a repeat of Rwanda.

A no fly zone would at least show some action was being taken, but not nearly enough. Enforcement of the International Criminal Court’s prosecution of Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, for alleged genocide and crimes against humanity would also be a step in the right direction.

Incredibly, and despite all the evidence the no fly zone is only a possibility with pathetic arguments being made against it, and apparently THE UN Security Council is under pressure to suspend the International Criminal Court’s prosecution of Bashir according to a report in the Economist, which I reported here last week.

The charges may be dropped because, of the Security Council’s five permanent members, three – China, Russia and the United States—refused to sign up to the International Criminal Court. Coincidentally Russia and China have huge financial interests in Sudan and are actively supporting the regime, and in-directly the genocide. I reported on this before – China is Fueling the War in Darfur.

the 53-member African Union (AU) and the 56-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) have also demanded that the Security Council suspend proceedings against Mr Bashir. As the author of the Economist article rightly points out several members of the AU abd OIC, “no doubt fearing that it could be their turn next”, to face the International Criminal Courts.

It is also interesting that Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in her electioneering today accused Obama of “palling around with terrorists”. She could equally suggest that, by their unwillingness to act to stop what they themselves describe as genocide, the republican party, the President, and the United states are also guilty of “palling around with terrorists.”

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Saving the President

26 09 2008

THE UN Security Council is under pressure to suspend the International Criminal Court’s prosecution of Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, for alleged genocide and crimes against humanity, according to a report in the Economist magazine today.

Unsurprisingly, Mr Bashir does not like the charge at all, and nor do the rest of his peers in the 53-member African Union (AU) and the 56-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Both groups have demanded that the Security Council suspend proceedings against Mr Bashir. As the author of the article rightly points out several members of the AU abd OIC, “no doubt fearing that it could be their turn next”.

Further increasing the pressure on the ICC if it does indict Mr Bashir (a decision is expected in November), several AU and OIC members, who together account for a third of the ICC’s 108 states parties, have threatened to pull out of the court.

With an eye on Sudan, Ban Ki-moon, the UN’s secretary-general, recently declared that the search for a balance between peace and justice “should never be influenced by the threats and postures of those seeking to escape justice”.

There is a more than reasonable chance that charges will be dropped, or ‘postponed’ despite the overwhelming evidence against Bashir (an estimated 300,000 have already lost their lives and some 3m have been forced to flee their homes in the five-year conflict, continues to deteriorate). And, despite the fact that as early as September 2004 Secretary Powell officially invoked the term “genocide” to describe what was going on there in testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and  President Bush (white House Press Release, September 9, 2004).

Despite calling it a genocide the U.S. and the rest of the world have taken no effective action to date. This is Rwanda 2:0, and the killing not only continues, it is getting worse.

Why might charges be dropped despite the evidence? Corrupt politics of course. Of the Security Council’s five permanent members, three – China, Russia and the United States—refused to sign up to the court. Coincidentally Russia and China have huge financial interests in Sudan and are actively supporting the regime, and in-directly the genocide. I reported on this before – China is Fueling the War in Darfur.

As I have also said already, Darfur and Sudan show the ineffectiveness of the United nations. Now there is a more than reasonable chance that they will show how useless one of it’s key institutions, the International Criminal Court, actually is. This may make or break the future of the ICC and, the action of the permanent members in relation to Sudan and Darfur will be yet another test of the credibility of the United Nations itself.

Read the Economist Article





Chinese Milk Scandal

20 09 2008

Chinese officials have ordered an all-out effort to save babies made ill by contaminated milk products.

Four children have died and more than 6,000 are ill owing to milk products contaminated with melamine, a chemical used in the manufacturing of plastics. Babies had developed kidney stones after drinking milk made from the contaminated powder. Of those children made sick, more than 150 are said to have acute kidney failure.

Mengniu Dairy Group, Yili Industrial Group and Bright Dairy are the three suppliers named as being responsible. They are suspected of watering down the milk product, then adding melamine to boost its nitrogen content, allowing it to pass protein quality-control tests.

The scandal broke last week after another supplier, the Sanlu Group, China’s biggest maker of milk powder, confirmed some of its products were contaminated with melamine.

Chinese police have arrested 18 people in connection with the scandal.

FULL STORY





China 'is fuelling war in Darfur'

14 09 2008

The BBC has found the first evidence that China is currently helping Sudan’s government militarily in Darfur.

The Panorama TV programme tracked down Chinese army lorries in the Sudanese province that came from a batch exported from China to Sudan in 2005.

The BBC was also told that China was training fighter pilots who fly Chinese A5 Fantan fighter jets in Darfur.

China’s government has declined to comment on the BBC’s findings, which contravene a UN arms embargo on Darfur.

The embargo requires foreign nations to take measures to ensure they do not militarily assist anyone in the conflict in Darfur, in which the UN estimates that about 300,000 people have died.

More than two million people are also believed to have fled their villages in Darfur, destroyed by pro-government Arab Janjaweed militia.

COMMENT

Given it’s own record there should be no surprise in the discovery of China’s actions in Sudan. China’s interests in Sudanese oil and other commodities far outweigh their concerns about the genocide being committed by the government of Sudan. It is no wonder then that China consistently blocks any attempt by members of the United Nations to put an end to the Sudanese government’s war on its own people. In other African countries China’s is also exploiting weaker nations, and the poor in those countries, for its own gain.

Having said this China is just the latest country to turn a blind eye to mass killings by governments they are supporting. Sudan’s history, and that of several other countries, reveals the guilt of many nations. Perhaps it is for this reason the United Nations should ‘hang its head in shame’. It is an organization that does nothing to stop the genocide and is loosing what little credibility it still has.

When the true horrors of Sudan, and when the Chinese and other nations involvement in them, is exposed we will be witness to another Rwanda. How many more Rwanda’s can the United Nations survive?

FULL STORY





Don't blame me, I have many lovers, says corrupt Chinese official

8 09 2008

After the seriousness of my last post regarding Darfur, here is a ridiculous one. I spotted an article in today’s Guardian Newspaper (UK). Unwittingly, or not, a Chinese blogger highlighted one of the problems of corruption in his country. His post lists several of the excuses given by officials who were caught. The pathetic excuses show just how trivial the matter is considered, how much corruption is just part of the culture.

Unfortunately corruption is part of the culture in countries, and the fact it is makes it really hard to deal eradicate. Overcoming the “Culture of Corruption” problem when it is part of daily life requires a campaign to expose the negative impact of every example from the apparently trivial, to the obviously serious. Changing the culture form one of acceptance or toleration has to be the starting point. This is the aim of Artists Against Corruption.

To get back to the Guardian’s article, perhaps the funniest example given is the case of Liu Songtao, the former head of the Chongqing number three hospital, blamed his irresistible charm for his travails. According to the official state news agency Xinhua, he was sentenced to 12 years for taking bribes. Questioned about his numerous affairs, he acknowledged: “I have lovers. Many women like me, I have no other way.”

Full Article





Corruption in China $6.7bn

29 08 2008

Beijing authorities admit that fighting corruption is one of their key tasks and Chinese President Hu Jintao has repeatedly warned that endemic corruption threatens the Communist Party’s grip on power. But, annual report by the state auditor found widespread miss-use, embezzlement and miss-management of public funds in 2007.

Full Strory