September 27, 2011
Omar Al-Bashir, First Sitting Head of State Indicted by the International Criminal Court

Omar Al-Bashir, First Sitting Head of State Indicted by the International Criminal Court

By ‘Eseta Schaaf


What if gross immoral human rights abuses carried out on a mass scale could be prosecuted by an international and impartial court of law? What if individuals, no matter how high ranking, even heads of state could be held accountable for misuse of power, and violations of international human rights? Well, it is possible, thanks to the International Criminal Court.

Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir is the first sitting head of state to be indicted by the International Criminal Court. Al-Bashir is charged with ten counts as an indirect perpetrator of the Darfur conflict: two counts of war crimes; five counts of crimes against humanity; and three counts of genocide. Sudan, which is not an ICC member state, was referred to the court under Security Council Resolution 1593, thus obligating it to cooperate. Headquartered in The Hague, the International Criminal Court was established on July 1st 2002 after the founding of the Rome Statute. The ICC can only prosecute crimes committed on or after its founding date.

ICC Prosecutor Jose Luis Moreno Ocampo made the case for al-Bashir’s arrest warrant after the Darfur crisis sparked worldwide attention and outrage. In 2003, the villages of the ethnic groups Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa were targeted and attacked by the Sudanese government after a rebellion by indigenous groups. The SPLM and JEM accused Khartoum of oppressing non-Arab Sudanese in favor of Sudanese Arabs. According to the charge sheet, Mr. al-Bashir “masterminded and implemented a plan to destroy in substantial part the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa groups” in a brutal retaliation campaign of ethnic cleansing which claimed at least 400,000 lives and displaced over 2.5 million Darfuris. The Sudanese government along with the Janjaweed Militia carried out gross human rights violations, inflicted deaths by direct combat, indirectly killed thousands by starvation and disease, and utilized rape and sexual violence as weapons of war.

On July 14th, 2008, the prosecution application was filed for President Omar al-Bashir’s warrant of arrest. The first warrant was issued on March 4th 2009, and charged al-Bashir with five counts of crimes against humanity, and two counts of war crimes. In it, the ICC pre-trial chamber declined to include genocide charges, but after an appeal based on inappropriate standard of proof al-Bashir was served a second arrest warrant on July 12th 2010: a charge of three counts of genocide.

Refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the ICC, and its jurisdiction in Sudan, Mr. al-Bashir has dismissed the charges as lies. Also in opposition to the indictment is the African Union which maintains that the charges could destabilize Sudan. Immediately after the announcement of his indictment, Sudan staged demonstrations in Khartoum denouncing the ICC and showing support for al-Bashir. International humanitarian organizations were expelled and the UN withdrew its non-essential staff for safety concerns. Intimidation and posturing were rampant in vulnerable areas with a high flux of internally displaced persons. Besides Africa’s harboring of al-Bashir, the Arab League, Non-Aligned Movement, Russia and China also condemn the ICC charges.

Since his indictment, the ICC has called on the international community and individual states to support international criminal justice by arresting President Omar al-Bashir upon arrival in their respective territories; however, this hasn’t been the case. Al-Bashir has since visited Egypt, Qatar, Chad, Nigeria, Kenya, Djibouti, and China without being arrested, but has steered clear of most ICC member states.

Although President Omar al-Bashir has not surrendered, the ICC should not be discouraged, and neither should lovers of international criminal justice worldwide. NATO and human rights organizations such as Amnesty International among others back the ICC indictment. The ICC’s first indictment of a sitting head of state serves as an important precedence for future cases; it is a deterrent and warning to brutal regimes that violate human rights and international law with impunity.

September 23, 2011
Child prostitution-past cultural norm still remains a problem.

Child prostitution-past cultural norm still remains a problem.

There is lively debate on the influences of rich countries providing economic support to poor countries through globalization. Do large corporations positively boost the socioeconomic status of the poor when they locate in underdeveloped regions? Or are large multinational corporations taking advantage of the dispositions of those unfortunate enough to have lost the ovarian lottery? Either position one takes it is generally agreed that poor countries have abysmal personal incomes to sustain life even in the meanest fashion. India is a well known country that this conversation always draws as an example.

But what about those internal exploitations found in these countries, even in a child’s own family? It is far too easy to pass an ethnocentric judgment of other cultures, especially when viewed by those of us whose own country does not witness daily poverty at such a scale as India. India’s citizen is in such dire situation it must give pause to assessing any verdict on those parents looking for enough money to provide nutrition for their children. Yet the situation of the poor causes further wrenching heartbreak when it becomes known there is a market for child prostitution in areas of such desperation. There are those who hold the cultural belief that child prostitution is a viable option within a family to provide income to their family. This must stop.

I would encourage anyone to read a story recently posted by CNN that sheds light on the desperation of those in the country of India and highlights this horrible cultural norm of child sex slavery (link below). In addition, this weekend CNN will have a two day televised special on this issue.

http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2011/09/21/tradition-forces-daughters-into-prostitution/

-Ryan Carrier

September 21, 2011
Keystone XL Pipeline

By Henrik Burns

9/15/11

  TransCanada has asked the US State Department for permission to build a pipeline that would transport heavy crude oil from tar sands in Alberta, Canada, to refineries along the Gulf Coast in Texas. At full capacity the Keystone XL Pipeline will pump 700,000 barrels of oil a day.[1] Proponents of the project argue that an influx of cheap Canadian crude oil into the United States would decrease our dependence on oil from politically unstable countries and reduce the price of gasoline. Both of these claims are false. Oil companies are struggling to keep gasoline prices high because of an oversupply in the United States.[2] The oversupply is caused by a decrease in domestic demand for oil in part because of the economic downturn and stricter fuel standards put in place by the Obama administration and also an increase in the overall supply because of the release of the National Strategic Petroleum Reserve.[3] This means that oil from the pipeline would not be sold in the United States. Once the crude is refined in Texas it will be exported abroad to markets in Europe and Latin America.[4] Gas prices will likely rise because the pipeline can facilitate the exportation of the current oversupply of oil in the American heartland.

            The construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline will provide an enormous boost to the tar sands industry and decelerate our path to a sustainable energy future. Mining and processing tar sand is extremely environmentally harmful. Wildlife habitat is destroyed when boreal forests are cut down and the area excavated to mine the sands. The tar sands are then heated and washed to separate the oil from the sand. This process requires the equivalent in natural gas to heat 3 million Canadian homes[5]. 25 barrels of freshwater are needed to produce one barrel of oil.[6] The polluted water is then discharged into toxic tailing ponds that span 50 square kilometers.[7] To produce one barrel of oil two tons of tar sands must be mined.[8] This industry negatively affects wildlife and water and air quality in its area of operation.

The production of tar sands generates three times the green house gas (GHG) emissions of conventional oil.[9] Building the pipeline will allow tar sand production to double by giving the industry access to markets where demand is high.[10] If the US were to facilitate this it would be a moral outrage and against the national interest and the interest of the international community. The Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency have stated that global climate change threatens the security of the nation.[11] Therefore, if we value our future we should not help bring this GHG intensive fuel to market.



[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/23/keystone-xl-frustrated-environmental-activists-obama_n_933648.html

[2] http://dirtyoilsands.org/files/OCIKeystoneXLExport-Fin.pdf

[3] http://dirtyoilsands.org/files/OCIKeystoneXLExport-Fin.pdf

[4] http://dirtyoilsands.org/files/OCIKeystoneXLExport-Fin.pdf

[5] http://www.desmogblog.com/top-10-facts-canada-alberta-oil-sands-information

[6] http://www.desmogblog.com/top-10-facts-canada-alberta-oil-sands-information

[7] http://www.desmogblog.com/top-10-facts-canada-alberta-oil-sands-information

[8] http://www.sierraclub.org/energy/factsheets/tarsands.asp

[9] http://www.nwf.org/~/media/PDFs/Global%20Warming/Policy-Solutions/Keystone%20XL%20Fact%20Sheet_2.ashx

[10] http://digitaljournal.com/article/311241

[11] http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=121352495

September 20, 2011
Trafficking Victims Protection Act: Reauthorize it.

Reauthorization of the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 is set to expire at the end of September. Fortunately in the past this piece of legislation has received unanimous bipartisan support for reauthorization every 3 years. This has provided new funding and new advanced tools in ending trafficking. The bill is currently in both Senate (with 13 cosponsors) and House (with 3 cosponsors) but only at the first steps required before it reaches the signature of the President’s pen.

The United States has had a slow and often reluctant history of combating its own and global human trafficking. The TVPA has been a welcomed start in the right direction for the legal combating of this horrible trade. If this legislation is not resigned into law protections will come to an end on October 1 endangering the groundwork and large advancements currently being made.

Unfortunately the media has placed a low priority on providing information to the public about the state of trafficking and has been virtually silent on the current situation of the TVPA. Though it has enjoyed previous support in congress there are never political certainties.  We do have the ability to secure a higher probability of passage:

1. Join a social group such as a team from High Road for Human rights to meet and discuss human right issues with those in your community.

2. Keep abreast on issues of trafficking through the Department of Health and Human Services, the Trafficking in Persons Report, and the many books available.

3. Call your representatives in both House and Senate to let them know your support of reauthorization. Remember, a written letter is a rarity today that still has considerable power of persuasion.

4. Stay tuned as we update you on the progress and celebrate with us when passage is assured.

By Ryan Carrier

September 15, 2011
U of U High Road Team 2011! Ready to take action!

September 13, 2011
High Road for Human Rights Executive Director receives the BORDC "Patriot" Award!

September 7, 2011
China uncovers brick slaves sold for 45-85 dollars

In 1860 an average male slave was valued well over a 1,000 dollars.

This article brings to light people stolen from society at knife point were sold for 45-80 dollars. This story underscores the needed resolve of humanity to address slavery. Today there are more slaves in the world and selling orders of magnitude less than the 1800’s.

http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2011/09/07/officials-trying-to-identify-enslaved-disabled-workers-rescued-from-brick-kiln/?hpt=hp_t2

Ryan Carrier

August 31, 2011
Stories of labor entrapment…

Information can be the most devastating weapon against slavery. Those preyed upon become empowered with means of prevention and discover lines of help post entrapment. It also enlightens the public about issues they may not have known existed. An estimated 40 million people are in the bonds of slavery today.

Comparatively, CNN has been doing a great job of bringing issues to the forefront by placing stories of tragedy, hope, and information on their front page.

http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/08/31/lisa.williams.living.water.girls/index.html?hpt=hp_c1

Ryan Carrier

August 29, 2011
Alleged “ethnic cleansing” in South Kordofan and Nuba Mountains

Alleged “ethnic cleansing” in South Kordofan and Nuba Mountains

Northern Sudan

Timeline: June 2011-Present

Perpetrators: SAF (Sudanese Armed Forces), President Omar al-Bahir

By ‘Eseta Schaaf

 High Road for Human Rights Volunteer Contributor

On July 9th 2011, Sudan split into two countries forming the new South Sudan. This was the culmination of five decades of war that claimed the lives of over two million people.  Centered in the Nuba Hills, South Kordofan is a northern region near the border with South Sudan. South Kordofan covers an area of over 98,000 square miles with a populatin of 1.1 million. Many of its people, particularly the Nuba identify with and fought alongside the South during the long civil war.

 

Though the Sudanese government continues to back its claims of demanding disarmament from rebel fighters, local leaders call it “ethnic cleansing” and a campaign targeting the indigenous Nuba people.

A month before secession, in June, President Omar al-Bashir initiated a vicious campaign to rid the South Kordofan state of rebel SPLA forces. The SAF (Sudan Armed Forces) were reportedly ordered to “clean out the rubbish” referring to civilians who had sided with the opposition during the recent elections in South Kordofan. Since June 5th, the Nuba Mountains have been relentlessly bombed; women and children retreat to the mountain caves upon hearing planes, antonovs and MIGs in the sky. By early July, hundreds of civilians had been killed and thousands uprooted and taken up camps near Lewere. Utilizing its military advantage over the SPLA, there had been enormous build-ups of troops, artillery, tanks , and machine gun carriers. Activists and civilian sources reported ground attacks with door to door executions. All international access was cut off, no foreign journalists allowed, official statements that any United Nations planes will be shot down, no commodities going in or out, no humanitarian access, and roads were mined. Mass graves had been found in the South Kordofan capital of Kadugli, with compelling evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Via fellow activist Samuel Totten, I’ve seen many graphic pictures of dead children, women, men, soldiers and animals sent by civilian sources in the Nuba Mountains. I’ve also read first hand accounts of villages, and main towns being bombed, leaving large holes on major roads in Kadugli to prevent outside humanitarian access and aid.

Still, in the political and international human rights arena, activists, scholars and politicians are hesitant to use to “G” word (genocide) or call it “ethnic cleansing” for fear of being politically incorrect. But with such compelling evidence provided by satellite photography, eyewitness accounts, and a report by the UN High Commission for Human Rights; there leaves little doubt that Sudan is indeed committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in South Kordofan.

The international community has a moral responsibility to act. And we need to act now; send in an impartial international investigation team and bring perpetrators to be tried at the International Criminal Court. As Rwanda and Darfur has shown, history tends to repeat itself when we fail to learn from the past and act.

 

 

June 26th, 2011: Two dead children at borehole at the market, Kauchi

June 26th, 2011: An injured child, hit at borehole at the market, Kauchi

June 26th, 2011: Dead woman at borehole at the market, Kauchi

 

July 6th, 2011: Children flee to the Nuba Mountain caves from antonov bombers in the sky 

Please call your members of Congress and ask them to stand against President Omar al-Bashir’s madness in South Kordofan and encourage the UN Security Council to support the ICC’s indictment of Bashir for previous war crimes and crimes against humanity and charge him for current war crimes in South Kordofan.

For more information on the South Kordofan human rights crisis, you can visit:

http://www.sudanreeves.org/

http://www.sudantribune.com/-News,001-

http://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/24/crisis-in-sudan-allegations-of-ethnic-cleansing-in-the-nuba-mountains/

 

August 25, 2011
American J-1 Visa study work abuse?

Hershey’s may not be the sole alleged abuser of the J-1 program study work visa the US gives out. However, the company certainly gained unwanted attention with over 300 J-1 workers holding signs and walking out the plant in Pennsylvania last week.

New York Times op-ed contributor Jennifer Gordon points out there may be a culture of labor bondage abuse through the Departments of Homeland Security and Labor.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/25/opinion/americas-sweatshop-diplomacy.html?_r=1

- Ryan Carrier

High Road for Human Rights Volunteer

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