Monday, September 04, 2006

No war crimes in Darfur

As usual, it depends on who you are as to whether you might be a war criminal or not, rather than on what you have done. As Al-Jazeera reports, Israeli officials were told to watch what they are saying or they might be accused of being war criminals.
“The sources say the foreign ministry has established a legal team to deal with efforts by foreign groups to arrange the prosecution abroad of Israelis involved in the war against Hezbollah guerrillas and crackdowns on Palestinians.

A ministry memorandum issued to Israel's military and other government agencies urges officials to avoid belligerent remarks that could potentially be used to back up allegations they were complicit in excessive use of force in Lebanon or Gaza.

"The type of language now considered off-limits includes 'crushing' the enemy, and 'cleansing', 'levelling', or 'wiping out' suspected enemy emplacements," a political source who saw the memo told Reuters.”
There are, inevitably, all kinds of attempts in various countries, some democracies, some, like Morocco, whose own record on human rights would barely stand up to investigation, to prove that the Israeli army and only the Israeli army in the whole of the Middle East, has committed war crimes.
“According to the memo, numerous war crimes lawsuits against Israeli officials were being prepared. It cited venues such as France, Belgium, Morocco and Britain, but no further details were immediately available.

Three Moroccan lawyers said last month they were suing the Israeli defence minister, Amir Peretz, over the recent offensives.

Israel Radio reported that a Danish politician also tried to have Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister detained and prosecuted during a recent visit to Copenhagen but the request for an arrest warrant was turned down by prosecutors.”
Let’s face it, no Danish or any other West European politician is ever going to say that prolonged Hezbollah attacks on Israeli settlements in the north (all civilian) or Hezbollah use of Lebanese civilians as human shields could possibly constitute a breach of international agreements. I wonder why that is.

Could it be a form of European superciliousness or hidden racism? Could the unnamed Danish politician be really thinking that one cannot sue organizations like Hamas, Fatah or Hezbollah for war crimes because they cannot be expected to understand the meaning of the term? Just a thought.

In the same way, one does not think of the government of Sudan or any of the militias it has trained and financed to attack and murder the people of Darfur (or various other parts of the country at various times) in very large numbers.

As Associated Press reports, the government of Sudan has demanded that the African Union, whose 7,000 strong “peace-keeping force” has achieved precisely nothing, leave the area before September 30, as they cannot stay beyond that, and not even think of handing over to UN troops.
“The government on Thursday rejected a UN Security Council resolution for the deployment of a 20,000-strong U.N. force in Darfur.

Instead it has launched a major offensive reportedly involving thousands of troops and militias in the northern part of Darfur.

The week-old offensive targets rebels who refused to sign a U.S.-brokered peace deal in May aimed at ending three years of conflict that has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced 2.5 million.”
Where the UN was going to get 20,000 peacekeepers for Darfur while still trying rather desperately to raise 15,000 for UNIFIL remains a mystery. It is probably just as well that they are not going to be allowed there. But is any Danish (or other West European) politician going to accuse Sudanese politicians and/or officials of war crimes? I thought not.

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