When Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir arrived in the country to attend the African Union summit in Sandton, Johannesburg, my thoughts immediately went to the denying of a visa to the Dalai Lama, in order for him to visit his long-time friend Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.
The sickening contrast? Al-Bashir is responsible for mass murders – yet we welcomed him with open arms. The other is a holy man, who has tried only to promote peace and non-violence – yet we deny him gracing our soil.
We are supposed to be a country built on the ideals of equality and human rights for all. The freedom we attained came at a harsh price – but serves as a stark reminder of the value system South Africa encompasses.
But we do not display this enough – or sometimes not at all.
It was not long after Al-Bashir’s arrival that the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria ordered that he stay in the country and be arrested, in light of an indictment for his arrest by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Al-Bashir, according to the ICC, is wanted for the campaigning of mass killing, pillage and rape against civilians in Darfur.
Crimes against humanity – is what it is called.
And then, instead of adhering to the order, Bashir casually jetted off back to his country from Waterkloof Air Force Base – we were told.
The ANC has said it feels the ICC is no longer useful for what was its intended role.
This is what Archbishop Tutu commented: “What that says about South Africa’s moral fabric – the same government has thrice refused to allow His Holiness the Dalai Lama into the country – is a moot point. It is the further eroding of the ICC’s ability to function equitably that will concern lovers of peace across the world”.
“In a moral world, Al-Bashir would have the opportunity to defend himself in a court to which all nations should be equally accountable, regardless of their power,” he continued.
Tutu’s vision of a moral world could only be realised if those in power conduct their duties with honesty and integrity.
That, however, at this point in time, would only occur in an ideal world.