Libya and China’s pragmatism

Despite an attributed commitment to ‘non-interference’ in other countries, China is now well recognised for its pragmatism when it comes to international affairs. Libya is a case in point. China had substantive investments in Libya and good relations with Muammar Gaddafi’s regime when the rebellion against it began this year. Nonetheless, amid international outrage at the regime’s attacks on civilians, China stood aside at the UN Security Council vote in February on resolution 1973. The resolution also imposed an arms embargo on Libya. NATO adopted resolution 1973 as the mandate for its military intervention in Libya. H owever China also stridently criticised the NATO air campaign against Gaddafi’s forces. As the opposition showed itself to be a credible challenge to the regime, Beijing began reaching out. In early June the regime’s Foreign Minister Abdelati al-Obeidi was welcomed to Beijing. Barely two weeks later, so was the opposition’s top foreign affairs official, Mahmud Jibril. On June 22, China recognized the opposition National Transitional Council (NTC) as "an important dialogue partner." At the same time, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said: "China is not seeking any private interest on the Libyan issue. China believes the Libyan issue is essentially Libyan internal issue. " Stressing "the future of Libya should be left to be decided by Libyan people," he urged the two sides in the Libyan conflicts to "truly give peace a chance," saying "this will work for the fundamental interests of the Libyan people." However, as recently as late July, despite the UN arms embargo, Chinese arms firms were discussing weapons sales worth $200 million to the regime’s beleaguered forces. They include pistols, missiles and rocket launchers. See The Telegraph’s report here .

Senior Kosovo leader to be tried for war crimes

A European Union judge has decided to put a senior Kosovo politician and former rebel leader on trial for the alleged execution and torture of Serb prisoners during the 1998-99 Kosovo war. See AP’s report here . The decision confirms an indictment filed by a EU prosecutor that Fatmir Limaj — a top former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army — ordered the execution of two captured Serb policemen "with gunshots to the head" and tortured another Serb captive. Limaj is one of 11 former rebels to be tried for war crimes against civilians and prisoners of war. The crimes allegedly took place in...

Guatemalan war criminal to be extradited to US

Canadian authorities have ordered a former member of the Guatemalan military who is accused of war crimes, to be sent to the US to face charges of perjury. Jorge Vinicio Orantes Sosa has been accused of lying to immigration authorities over whether he had committed a crime or been a member of a military organization when he applied for US citizenship. In April, Spanish courts issued an extradition request and arrest warrant for Sosa, seeking to try him for charges of genocide, torture and extrajudicial killings. The American and Canadian citizen is alleged to have led the massacre of over 200...

Cameron calls for inquiry into ‘rendition’ allegations

British Prime Minister David Cameron has called for an independent inquiry into allegations that the British intelligence service MI6 was involved in the rendition of Libyan terror suspects. CIA Documents discovered at an abandoned building in Tripoli suggest that MI6 worked with Libyan intelligence to forcibly move terror suspects to Libya, where they then may have been subjected to torture. The secret documents suggest Britain facilitated the capture of Abdul Hakim Belhaj at Bangkok airport. Belhaj, now military commander of Tripoli and NATO ally, was boarding a flight from Bangkok to...

Suspected war criminal loses libel case

Former Serb paramilitary commander Dragan Vasiljković has lost a libel suit against The Australian, after the newspaper accused him of war crimes committed during the Balkans conflict between 1991 and 1994 in an article published in 2005. During the trial, details emerged of the crimes Vasiljković is said to have committed, including rape, torture and his admittance to committing a massacre. The editor-in-chief of The Australian and The Weekend Australian, Chris Mitchell, said at the commencement of the trial in 2009: "The Australian was placed in the extraordinary position of having to...

South Sudan plans new capital

The capital of the newly formed state of South Sudan will be shifted to Ramciel - believed to be the capital envisioned by John Garang , former leader of the Sudan People's Liberation Army. Ramciel is a small town north of the main city Juba. The local population are widely known to be long-standing staunch advocates of independence. “It is a beautiful land,” said Barnaba Marial Benjamin, South Sudan’s information minister. “This is a long-term plan for a capital while we continue with our priorities.” Officials stated that Juba was initially considered as the capital, however, the 12-square-mile site needed for new government buildings would have involved the uprooting of indigenous communities. “ There are indigenous communities in these areas. Unless they agree, we cannot just take their land ,” explained Benjamin.

EU bans Syrian oil

European Union members announced a ban on all imports of Syrian oil Friday, as the Assad regime's brutal crackdown on civilian protesters continues. The move comes over one week after EU officials announced sanctions on Syrian businesses and officials but stopped short of imposing a full oil embargo, reportedly due to concerns of the impact on civilians. See ' EU extends sanctions on Syria, mulls oil embargo' Around 90% of Syrian crude oil is exported to the EU.

France extradites Rwandan genocide suspect to Belgium

A Rwandan genocide fugitive, who had an EU arrest warrant issued, has been extradited by French authorities to face trial in Belgium. Fabien Neretse the former head of the Rwanadan Coffee Office and influential figure in the Rwandan government was wanted by Belgium authorities for his role in the 1994 genocide of Tutsis and participation in war crimes. An arrest warrant was issued by a Belgian court earlier this year, after a criminal case was opened against him in 2004. Neretse was alleged to have been instrumental in the killing of a Belgo-Rwandan family and their neighbours, seeking...

Canada seeks to build Holocaust memorial

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is leading efforts to build a National Holocaust Monument near the Canadian capital Ottawa, AFP reported. Baird is setting up a five-member council, for which they are currently seeking nominations, which will oversee the efforts to fund, construct and maintain the monument. "Canada remembers the suffering of the millions of innocent victims of the Holocaust," Baird said. "This monument will not only preserve their memory but will also educate visitors of all faiths and traditions about the causes and risks of hate. Let us use the lessons of the past to...

Khmer Rouge leaders deny charges as donors push for swift trial

Four former officials of the Cambodian Khmer Rouge have denied charges of genocide and war crimes, as ailing health looks set to push back their trials. Japan, France and the US, major supporters of the UN backed tribunal, have been pushing for the trial to go ahead as quickly and fairly as possible. See report by Voice of America here . The tribunal, also known as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, was established after an agreement between the Government of Cambodia and the United Nations to try senior members of the Khmer Rouge for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The current judges on the Supreme Court Chamber of the tribunal includes recent Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Chandra Nihal Jayasinghe. Ou Virak, of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, said of the tribunal: "[This] will be a cathartic moment for all Cambodians. While the crimes of the Khmer Rouge were committed over a quarter of a century ago, they remain ingrained in Cambodia's collective psyche. I hope that this trial – coming as it does so many years after the crimes alleged against the accused were committed – provides all victims with some sense of justice, however delayed that justice may be." This call was echoed by Andrew Cayley, the international co-prosecutor in the case, who said that the crimes were probably the "most serious crimes committed since the Second World War" and "the Cambodian people still expect answers." He went on to say, "Certainly, the relatives of those who perished and the handful of those survivors who are left are seeking justice."