Kufuor Must not Allow Omar al-Bashir on Ghanaian Soil!

Mon, 29 Sep 2008 Source: Pryce, Daniel K.

A September 23, 2008, news item published on Francis Akoto’s GhanaHomePage, titled “Sudan’s President to visit Ghana,” the former the most influential and oft-accessed pro-Ghanaian Internet portal, at once rankled me and reignited my astoundingly waning passion to write again for my fellow Ghanaians. For those who know very little about Omar Hassan al-Bashir, Sudan’s despotic leader, this man has superintended ? overtly and covertly ? some of the worst cases of carnage, dismemberment, gross sexual abuse and annihilation of large numbers of his country’s black population, especially in the Darfur province, by the ostensibly “superior” Arab members of Sudanese society, which is the very reason why al-Bashir’s planned visit to Ghana has both generated outrage among the peaceable people of our dear nation and received unequivocal denunciation.

For world leaders to altogether embrace the trajectory of ambivalence while our Sudanese brothers and sisters are massacred on a daily basis ? the only “sins” of these “ostracized” members of Sudanese society are their Negroid features and a lack of access to political power ? remains an even greater mystery than the carnage itself. Of course, some will argue that the vastly undermanned joint UN-AU Peacekeeping Force in place in Darfur has performed amply well in the last few years to repulse advancing Sudanese Army personnel and members of the notorious Janjaweed militia ? the latter two have been receiving direct orders from Omar al-Bashir himself to perpetrate dastardly acts against the unarmed black Sudanese population ? but could not the world have done more?

Five years after the genocide in Darfur had begun, the world’s leading nations, such as the U.S. and Great Britain, have done very little to protect the lives, livelihoods and dignity of these helpless Sudanese people, whose own government is determined to wipe them off the face of the earth! More importantly, China, a superpower in its own right, because of its unfettered access to Sudanese oil and markets, has refused to issue a statement of condemnation against the Khartoum administration, let alone intervene with resources and logistical support for the defense of the vulnerable black population. This writer still refuses to accept the reasons proffered by the world community for China’s hosting of the recently concluded Olympic Games, for in my mind, China remains one of the greatest obstacles to peace in the Darfur region, more so because of both its alignment with the Khartoum administration and its veto power on the UN Security Council.

Currently, as a signatory to the International Criminal Court (ICC), headed by the Argentinean Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Ghana is bound by principle to respect the call of the afore-named august body to arrest any wanted criminal who lands on Ghanaian soil. As such, unless an arrest warrant has not been issued by the time Omar al-Bashir arrives in Ghana, should the Sudanese leader defy all logic and embark on this trip, Mr. al-Bashir faces a very real prospect of being arrested and handed over to the ICC, to be tried for crimes against humanity.

The well-respected American news outlet, PBS, reports that Omar Al-Bashir has, over the last 5 years, supervised the annihilation of “at least 300,000 [black Sudanese] and forced another 2.5 million to flee their homes.” PBS further reports that the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, has “filed 10 charges against al-Bashir: three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of murder.” The world is thus anxiously waiting for the ICC to issue an order for the arrest of Omar al-Bashir, one of Africa’s last pit-bulls, a man with absolutely no regard for the lives of his fellow citizens, a man who has continually disregarded the call of the international community to rein in the thugs operating in the Darfur region.

A synopsis of events in Darfur ? these acts of violence began in 2003 ? reveals that these attacks are almost always the work of “a coalition of militia and Sudanese military forces” (PBS.org). “Moreno-Ocampo [further states], ‘These forces would then surround village[s] and on occasion, the Air Force would be called upon to drop bombs on the village[s] as a precursor to the attacks. The ground forces would then enter the village[s] or town[s] and attack civilian inhabitants. They kill men, children, elderly, women; they subject women and girls to massive rapes. They burn and loot the villages’” (as reported by PBS.org). For those who would argue that it is a Sudanese problem only, they ought to remember that it is exactly such inactions and trivializations on the part of the larger world community, in the face of a compendium of horrific atrocities, which emboldened the likes of Germany’s Adolf Hitler, Liberia’s Charles Taylor and Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic to decimate large segments of their respective countries’ populations.

Below are the accounts of just two of the tens of thousands of Sudanese rape victims. A 35-year-old mother of five, from South Darfur, reports that the “Janjaweed would pass their hands touching the heads and legs of women; if a woman has long hair and fat legs and silky skin she is immediately taken away to be raped. Some of us were raped in front of the crowd. Two of them [Janjaweed hooligans] came to me, I resisted them …. They hit me and decided to rape me in front of others” (as reported by Human Rights Watch). According to another woman from North Darfur, the Janjaweed would “rape girls as young as seven or eight, while some women were raped and then genitally mutilated” (as reported by Human Rights Watch).

Ghanaians have made enormous and sagacious strides in their collective quest for the democratization of their nation-state, the preceding having drawn unbridled praise from notable Western leaders. In fact, the relative peace, tranquility and interethnic co-existence Ghanaians have enjoyed under John Kufuor ? even while Jerry Rawlings should be fully credited with the genesis of this contemporary, Fourth-Republican democratic experiment ? must be protected at all costs, as are the duties of the citizenry. It is for this reason that Ghanaians will be very displeased with John Kufuor, if the latter allowed Omar al-Bashir, a bigot, murderer, tyrant and criminal, to step on Ghanaian soil come October 2008.

I reiterate my appeal to the Gentle Giant to heed the call of Ghanaians to reject Omar al-Bashir’s plans to visit the Ghanaian capital, in order to show the rest of the world that Ghana’s leaders would not condone human rights abuses, either on Ghanaian soil or elsewhere. If Omar al-Bashir is seeking legitimacy for his floundering and repressive administration, I suggest that he and his Janjaweed apparatchiks rather celebrate their last days together before the sledgehammer of justice is unleashed ? very soon ? on them, for the Sudanese tyrant should receive no such approval from Ghana’s John Kufuor.

The writer, Daniel K. Pryce, holds a master’s degree in public administration from George Mason University, U.S.A. He is a member of the national honor society for public affairs and administration in the U.S.A. He can be reached at dpryce@cox.net.

Columnist: Pryce, Daniel K.