BY PET MELLIZA/ THE BEEKEEPER
Atty. Edre Olalia, president of the International Alliance of People’s Lawyers (IAPL), deplores the International Criminal Court’s stand on Ghadaffy as “double standard”.
“We have no quarrel here: if indeed Ghaddafy were responsible for violating the rights of his people, then he must stand trial before the ICC,” notes Olalia. “But why focus only on Libya when neighboring regimes are committing far worse crimes in suppressing popular uprisings?”
As this piece is being written, battles are raging in Tripoli, Libya between government and rebel forces. The International Criminal Court (ICC) based in The Hague on Monday (August 22) ordered arrested Libyan leader Muammar el-Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam and the country’s intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi. The ICC prosecutor asked for their arrest for torturing and killing civilians and rebels.
Be that as it may, inflicting violence on civilians and captive enemy troops is not the monopoly of Libya, if indeed the Ghaddafy regime committed that. We have seen it on TV footages that neighboring states like Syria, Tunisia and Egypt did far worse mayhem on their peoples yet the ICC and its members appear to have been stricken by mass amnesia.
We welcome the move to investigate and, if warranted, prosecute Ghaddafy. But why only him when around us, we have governments brazenly committing the same mayhem, if not worse, against their own people?
The Philippine government may not be signatory to the Rome Statute but the ICC, which is its consequence, is not revolted by the political crimes committed by the Arroyo government against the Filipino people. It continues to be deaf and blind to the fact that the Arroyo government should be held accountable for the killing of more than 1,200 activists and the disappearance of 200 others in 2001 – 2010.
The ICC summoned international courage only on the supposed human rights violations of Ghaddafy. Libya is not a signatory to the Rome Statute just like the Philippines which did so in abject deference to its sovereign, the White House which refuses to sign it to rid itself of restrictions in its world conquest. The US and its NATO allies have deployed their air power against Libya in support of rebels advancing to the capital Tripoli. That is a clear violation of international norms. Their planes, too, shattered civilian homes and lives in the process but the ICC overlooked it.
The man named Barack Obama and his predecessor George W. Bush, Jr., are guiltier than Ghaddafy in committing crimes against humanity in their wars of aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq and to some extent, its own ally Pakistan in the “war against terror”. The US committed far worse violations against human rights and the international norm of civilized conduct in the treatment of prisoners.
Obama was elected on his platform of human rights and in ending Bush’s gung-ho militarism in dealing with the world. Yet, he violated his own promise by refusing to close down Guantanamo. In the process, he perpetuates the legacy of his predecessor in turning the military base into international torture chamber where prisoners – in violation of the 1949 International Declaration on Human Rights and its two protocols – suffer inhumane treatment and held incommunicado.
TV cameras have captured scenes of Syrian soldiers firing at unarmed protesters and killing and maiming scores in the process yet the violence did not merit the holy anger of the gods and their angels at the White House and the European Union.
Unlike neighboring countries, the Libyan imbroglio is different. Libya faces an armed opposition backed by the US and NATO. The two alliance bombed Libya’s key cities and unilaterally imposed a no-fly-zone to prevent Libyan plances from taking off and defend government facilities, in effect, rendering them helpless against advancing rebel forces.
Libya’s neighbors are shaken by popular but unarmed upheavals that their respective governments deal with brute military might, which the US and NATO, in contrast, deliberately ignore.