ICC must not ignore the Al-Bashirs of Ethiopia – By Abebe Gellaw | July 13, 2008
Criminal despots across the world must have been shaking in their boots as a result of the decision of the International Criminal Court to prosecute the Sudanese tyrant Omar al-Bashir, who is responsible for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity in Southern Sudan. Since he came to power in a military coup in 1989, he has led the Sudan into a terrible hell hole. Non-Arabic Southern Sudanese have long been targets of racially motivated wars, killing sprees, torture, displacement and inhuman and degrading treatment in their homeland. (more…)
Criminal despots across the world must have been shaking in their boots as a result of the decision of the International Criminal Court to prosecute the Sudanese tyrant Omar al-Bashir, who is responsible for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity in Southern Sudan. Since he came to power in a military coup in 1989, he has led the Sudan into a terrible hell hole. Non-Arabic Southern Sudanese have long been targets of racially motivated wars, killing sprees, torture, displacement and inhuman and degrading treatment in their homeland.
Across Sudan’s eastern borders sits with impunity another criminal despot who has been responsible for similar crimes throughout Ethiopia, mainly in Oromia, Gambella, Ogaden, Amhara region, Afar, Southern region and Addis Ababa. Meles Zenawi has pitted one ethnic group against other, has caused the death and injury of over one hundred thousand Ethiopians in his treacherous war against Eritreans, committed genocide in Gambella, Ogaden, Somalia…and Arba Gugu. Under the tyranny of Meles Zenawi, Ethiopians have suffered immensely….killed in cold blood, tortured, jailed, dehumanized, displaced, and starved to death en masse.
The African Union, a talking shop of African despots, has already expressed its intention to undermine the efforts of the International Criminal Court. Behind the scene, rulers like Meles Zenawi are unleashing their dirty tricks to do everything in their power to protect each other from prosecution because they know full well that Al-Bashir’s fate will await them sooner or later. They are fully aware that the ICC unprecedented move of prosecuting an incumbent criminal despot will set a tragic precedent against them.
Since the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court was adopted in Rome in July 1998, the campaigns and efforts of the ICC to press the Meles regime to be a signatory to the statute has not been fruitful. Meles Zenawi and his henchmen have tried every trick in the book to reject this crucial international instrument despite the fact that it aims to try suspects of the most serious crimes, such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. As of June 2008, 106 countries have become parties to the Rome Statutes, but regimes in such countries as the Sudan and Ethiopia, where so many despots who have allegedly committed crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes with impunity, are trying to frustrate the good efforts of the ICC.
Ethiopians across the world must seize the new breakthrough that has emerged with Al-Bashir’s case. There is a mountain of evidence, compiled by the international media, Genocide Watch, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Ethiopian Human Rights Council, the Anuak Justice Council and many more independent bodies, that is sufficient enough to trigger prosecution against Meles Zenawi and his inner circle. A highly concerted effort must be made to press ICC to consider crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide being perpetrated by the Meles regime with arrogance and impunity.
For justice to prevail, no criminal should enjoy the privilege of impunity. As Dr Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” That being the case, for the ICC to enjoy the full credibility and trust of victims of injustice anywhere in the world, those who have been committing crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes must be denied the impunity they have awarded themselves. Ethiopians must work in tandem with the ICC to press for prosecution against the Al-Bashirs of Ethiopia.
In its January 2004 Update (Issue No. 8), Genocide Watch clearly stated that, ” Impunity gives the green light to those who commit genocide. If they are not arrested, they and their followers will know they can literally get away with mass murder. They will kill again, and the massacres could become full-scale genocide. The United States Department of State has confirmed and protested these massacres at the highest level of the Ethiopian government.”
In a bid to pursue this matter more vigorously, an ad hoc committee led by such prominent human rights advocates as Obang Metho, Professor Al Mariam, Professor Mamo Muchie and others should be formed. There is also a need to send a high level delegation to Rome to press the ICC to extend to Ethiopia its new initiative of denying the criminal despots of our turbulent world the impunity they have been enjoying. It is time to act sooner rather than later to wipe off the tears of millions of Ethiopians. There must be no hiding place for perpetrators of heinous crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes.