Politicization of war-crimes: Bashir and Rajapakse
While Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who bears command responsibility for the killing of nearly UN-estimated 100,000 Tamil civilians by the Sri Lanka military, is attending the 62nd United Nations General Assembly, commencing on September 25, the White House is not commenting on if the US would be issuing an entry visa to alleged war-criminal and Sudan’s long time leader Hassan al-Bashir to attend the UN annual meeting. Recently, the US State Department, using its discretionary powers, intervened to save Rajapakse from war-crimes charges in Court cases filed by affected Tamils.
“We have an obligation as host nation for the U.N.,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said, referring to the general practice of allowing foreign leaders and diplomats entry to the United States for U.N. business. “I’m just not going to speculate what action we may or may not take other than to say we act consistent with our relevant international obligation,” the Washington Post reported.
U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power started a diplomatic shoving match Monday when she said the United States had received a request for an entry visa from Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. It would be “deplorable, cynical and hugely inappropriate” for Bashir to attend the U.N. gathering, Power said, according to the paper.
A spokesperson for US-based activist organization, Tamils Against Genocide (TAG), commenting on the issue said, "The State Department’s silence on whether it will allow genocide-indicted Sudanese leader al-Bashir an entry visa is symptomatic of customary American dualistic approaches to human rights enforcement. The question of whether or not al-Bashir should be permitted to attend on American soil is a Red Herring. It obfuscates the question of American intent to enforce international criminal prohibitions on genocide, and its obligation as a UN member to extradite al-Bashir to the Hague if he were present on American territory. If the recurrent presence of Mahinda Rajapakse on American soil during and after the Tamil killing field in Mu’l'livaaykkaal is a precedent, President al-Bashir should not be alarmed by the paroxysm of public discussion."
Sudan’s Foreign Ministry commenting on the US stance, said, the United States is not qualified “to offer sermons and advice” on human rights or international law, in particular because Washington is not a member of the international court and considers itself independent of the court’s decisions. Bashir should be quickly granted a visa to visit New York, the government in Khartoum said.
Professor Boyle, an expert in international law earlier said, "[Samantha] Power stood by and watched 150,000 Tamils be exterminated by the GOSL and did nothing to stop it that I am aware of," and pointing out Power’s conspicuous silence during the killing of Tamil civilians reaching genocidal proportions by the Sri Lanka military, said that Power now [at the UN] has a chance to "redeem" herself by establishing an International Criminal Tribunal for Sri Lanka, as did her predecessor Madeline Albright to the former Yugoslavia.