“Even if al Bashir were to be found guilty of what he has been accused, the issuance of an arrest warrant is nothing more than an attack on Arab conscience, dignity, and identity.”
This is a quote from one of the arguments made in defence of President Omar al Bashir, which is just one example of a deluge of similar “bold” Arab positions that have been flooding the television stations, newspapers and internet sites since the International Criminal Court [ICC] issued an arrest warrant for al Bashir accusing him of committing war crimes in Darfur.
Indeed, since the arrest warrant was issued, the majority of Arab media has united in condemning this move.
However, this same media did not unite to report on the suffering of the people of Darfur, whose pictures and stories were hardly visible in the Arab press, and today we see sweeping demonstrations being staged in solidarity with al Bashir that remind us of the rallies that used to take place during the Saddam Hussein era. The live transmissions of al Bashir’s speeches, where he rouses public opinion and dances waving his stick or sword to the cheers of the crowd, have formed the dominant image of him on our satellite channels over the past week.
The issue is no longer the possibility of al Bashir’s involvement in the Darfur massacres; this has now become a mere detail. The Sudanese President himself is not focusing on protesting his innocence of being involved in the genocide of 300,000 people in Darfur in his fiery speeches. Rather, al Bashir attempts to stir up the emotions of the crowd by proclaiming slogans that reject colonialism and promote national pride.
Al Bashir’s decision to expel the humanitarian organizations that work in the Darfur region, upon whom the people of Darfur fundamentally depend for the provision of their foodstuff and aid, has [also] passed unmentioned in the Arab media even though this is a decision that threatens a million people with starvation!
The Arab media did not report on the attack on its “dignity” seen in the Darfur refugee camps!
The people of Darfur and their troubles have been completely absent [from Arab media] and attention to them has been confined to Western media, which sent representatives and reporters, and conducted interviews, investigating the role of the Sudanese regime in the systematic and planned extermination of the Muslim but “non-Arab” minority? Is this “fault” [of not being an Arab] that which denied them the right of even appearing in Arab media, not to mention the lack of any position being taken up or condemnation given with regards to what they suffered over the previous years.
Does maintaining Arab dignity mean indifference in the face of massive deaths of African civilians at the hands of a Muslim and Arab ruler?
Isn’t this the same dignity that enabled us to rush to the defence of Palestinians against Israeli massacre and US hegemony?
Such a double-standard brings into question the credibility of [Arab] dignity in both cases.
International justice must be supported and encouraged, and what applies to the President of Sudan must also apply to the President of the United States of America, since international justice was not created only to be imposed upon smaller states. International justice must serve its true purpose, and not be abrogated, or contain double standards, or be influenced by racism, as is the case with Darfur. So yes, it would be difficult today to bring the US President to the ICC; and let us not forget that the USA is not a member of the ICC. Yet the commitment to adhere to international standards takes us closer to- and strengthens the prospects of- the “white man” in Washington and Tel Aviv being held accountable [for their actions].
In spite of all of this, the Arab media, and Arab politics have been reacting to the death of 300,000 in Darfur along with the displacement of millions more, by saying that this is not important. What is important however is Arab dignity, and defying international justice.
The blood of the people of Darfur is not only al Bashir’s responsibility.