Saturday, December 09, 2006

Words of comfort for the people of Darfur...

... from their President, His Excellency Mr Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir, who was addressing the opening ceremony of the 5th ACP [African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States] Summit of Heads of State and Government on Thursday 07 December 2006 in Khartoum, Sudan.


I should have been specific. By "Words of comfort for the people of Darfur..." I meant the exact opposite. I meant the address delivered by their President would be anything but comfort for the people of Darfur, and in fact could be the worst insult they ever receive (just to top off all the other insults they've received already... torture, rape, murder, for instance). I was hoping to use sarcasm or irony or whatever the hell it may be called in order to say something without being direct or specific. If I was being direct I would have said I think President al-Bashir is a lying evil monster and should be dragged to the ICC kicking and screaming, hopefully because he's being kicked as he's being dragged.

If that doesn't illustrate my problem with being specific, here is another reason: I don't know enough to be sure that Mr al-Bashir actually is lying, and nor can I be sure that he's evil or deserves to face the ICC. All I have to go on are media reports, and they are no basis for proving anything, least of all guilt in relation to crimes against humanity. Everyone, including Mr Bashir, should be regarded as innocent unless or until guilt has been sufficiently established to convince any cool-headed and reasonable person. (Perhaps it's not necessary that a court trial be involved, but I don't know enough to be sure of this.) In other words, I should be assuming his innocence. It's very difficult to do this though, because I believe that what follows in his address is complete bullshit. I also cannot believe a group of world leaders - those whose countries make up the membership of the ACP - have willing elected this man to be their leader. I cannot believe it. What the hell are they doing? What's wrong with them? It makes me so angry there's nothing more to say.

If you'd like news updates on the situation in Darfur, Reuters AlertNet reports are very handy - here is the customised RSS feed.

Please note:
1. The spelling of Mr al-Bashir's name varies, so I've used the Wikipedia version.
2. The translation or transcription of his address is not the most clearly written piece of English you'll ever see; it's possible that it misquotes what he said or meant.
3. In the following extracts I cleaned up some typos and punctuation mistakes and threw [...]s everywhere. I don't know whether to apologise for the mess I made or throw a few more in.

Now! Attention, please, for the President:
I [...] assert the preponderance of Sudan to work and collaborate with the ACP member states on the one hand and the international community on the other, in order to achieve our common goals and interests, such as keeping of peace, security and stability, under the prevalence of justice, equality and respect of sovereignty of other states, in addition to the foremost of our priorities: sustained development and eradication of poverty.
May I mention [...] that the experience of our country in attaining peace is worthy to be noted, for it has relied on the recognition of cultural, ethnic and religious diversity. No doubt, agreement on the legal and constitutional formula, which makes of such diversity a source for strength and consolidation, [will] require[...] a long time to fulfil.

We, however, shall endeavour to make of diversity a tool for consolidation, and [...] the implementation of the peace agreements [will] be carried [out] in a manner which shall disseminate the spirit of loving concord, equity, justice and peace among all citizens.
May I indicate here that the noble principles of democracy and good government are principles in which we believe and [are] exalted by our teachings, values and traditions across our countries.
Many of our countries do suffer from conflicts and disputes created by colonial powers and further aggravated by poverty, backwardness, and the lack of recognition of the root causes therein. It is high time, however, to surpass and address them through dialogue, as you realize we witness a new phase of the world of today wherein its people are availed to closely interact, thanks be to [...] information technology, migration, travelling and cross-movement of individuals and cash, so we are now living in a world that looks like a small village. This situation urges that a culture of peaceful coexistence, respect for human rights, prevalence of justice and lifting of injustice on vulnerable societies be installed in addition to [...] endeavours [...] by governments to realize a better life for their citizens.
Following endorsement by member countries at the Summit, the ACP's president for the next two years will be - guess who? - President of the Republic of the Sudan, His Excellency Mr Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir. Mr al-Bashir's name has also been endorsed by Human Rights Watch as one of those individuals who should be investigated by the International Criminal Court. Hmm.