- The Washington Times - Monday, August 4, 2008



Many of the Olympics’ 63 sponsors and partners will be advertising during the Games. One product you can’t buy at a local store is Barack Obama, who has bought $5 million campaign time on NBC and its cable stations as the Communist dictatorship host glorifies its global image.

During the senator’s appearance in Berlin, where the huge crowd acclaimed him as if he had already moved into the White House, Mr. Obama briefly mentioned the continuing deaths and desolation in Darfur. I’ll be surprised if that deadly subject comes up during Mr. Obama’s ads for himself between the sporting events in Beijing, even though China is one of the chief arms suppliers of Sudan’s genocide in Darfur. The other advertisers might consider such a reminder to be in poor taste.

The Obama presidential campaign (as reported in the July 24 New York Times) bought airtime in 24 states during the Super Bowl, but he’s now taking his message to the country, from sea to shining sea, as China celebrates itself in its competition for the gold medal of superpowerdom.

I’m certain that, as you watch the Games, you won’t hear a word about how China, as an arms supplier for Sudanese Lt. Gen. Omar Bashir’s armed forces and monstrous Janjaweed, has been violating a 2005 U.N. Security Council resolution imposing an embargo on any nation supplying arms to any side in the murderous conflict in Darfur.

Since China is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, its defiance of this embargo has yet to appear on the council’s agenda. But during commercial breaks in the Games, you might find it intriguing that, as the highest-ranking members of China’s politburo glow before the cameras, no one will be mentioning that there is a mountain of evidence that this dictatorship is also a continuing, active violator of Article 3 of the 1948 Geneva Convention that cites the crime of “complicity in genocide.”

“What evidence?” you might ask. In the July 17 New York Times, columnist Nicholas Kristof, who has spent more time amid the constantly endangered survivors of the genocide in Darfur than any other journalist, reports: “According to United Nations data, 88 percent of Sudan’s imported small arms come from China and those Chinese sales of small arms increased 137-fold between 2001 and 2006. China has also sold military aircraft to Sudan, and the BBC reported this week that two Chinese-made A-5 Fantan fighter aircraft were spotted on a Darfur runway last month. The BBC also said that China is training Sudanese military pilots in Sudan.” If this isn’t “complicity in genocide” under Article III of the Geneva Convention, then the meaning of that plain language has been lost in translation.

Of course, unlike Sudan’s Gen. Bashir, China’s president, Hu Jintao, has no present fear of being a person of criminal concern to Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, who has formally asked that court to issue an arrest warrant for Hu Jintao’s partner in arms and oil, Gen. Bashir - the president of Sudan, on three counts of genocide - among other world-class crimes.

However, after the Olympics, Mr. Hu, so intent on presenting China to the world as an increasingly bountiful opportunity for free marketers and as the inevitable replacement for the United States as the most powerful presence on the planet might reflect on the following cautionary advice from the director of Human Rights First’s Crimes Against Humanity program, Betsy Apple. Her advice is also being emphasized by other human-rights organizations: “The naming of Bashir as a suspect has dramatically altered the whole landscape of legal liability, considerably raising the stakes for those countries that continue to provide weapons to Sudan … [and] face the stark decision whether they want to continue to provide the arms to a man who is facing indictment for genocide and thus put themselves at risk of violating the Genocide Convention.” She notes that, in the recent case of Bosnia v. Serbia, the International Court of Justice elected by the U.N. Assembly and Security Council ruled “that if a country learns that there is a serious risk of genocide, and it subsequently “fail(s) to take all measures to prevent genocides which were within its power, and which might have contributed to preventing the genocide, it may be held legally liable for this failure under the 1949 Genocide Convention.”

So, since Mr. Hu is a prudent man, wouldn’t it be wise, for public-relations purposes, to put emphatic pressure on his notorious ally, Gen. Bashir, to take real-time action to end his genocide in Darfur, disarm the Janjaweed and admit the entire African Union-U.N. peacekeeping force? Mr. Hu, having then been responsible for stopping the mass murders and rapes in Darfur when no one else could, would bring really resounding credit to China and would himself be free of pursuit by the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

Why hesitate, sir?

Nat Hentoff’s column for The Washington Times appears on Mondays.



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