Is Justice hidden within the walls of the International Criminal Court? Or perhaps still firmly wrapped in the mysteries of the laws of ICC? I wonder with some annoying frustration, as I write this, how screwed the establishment has become and their self-righteous campaigns for morality.
I have decided to take a break from my outreach in the slums of Bangkok. Some of the residents have been speaking about the ultra right wing groups and their growing fear of a return to the days of a coup. I shrugged my tired shoulders, unable to contain my impatience at the devolution of society in this part of the world.
The last coup in Thailand was in 2006, and subsequently led to many street protests initiated by both the masses and minorities. The Red Shirts swamped into the city in 2010, protesting against the coup-supporters, and within days, over 95 people were killed in the clashes with the military, leaving over 2,000 people injured from the violent exchanges.
So where is the justice?
The ICC is the first permanent, treaty based, international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community. It claims to be an independent organization, away from the constricting system of the United Nations and influence of the Western Powers, or the New Order.
But within the context of justice, the ICC does little to facilitate a just cause in South East Asia. Many nations, present and past governments, military dictatorships have left their imprints in history without prosecution. How much jurisdiction does this body of judges and prosecutors have over crimes against humanity? And what of universal jurisdiction, or merely toothless without the consent of an Institution that is eager to hide within the complexity of sovereignty? In some cases, “sovereignty” is merely a rebranded word, hiding tyranny and occupation in it.
Look at West Papua. The rot of complacency, and what is seen as an unpopular movement by the international community, allows a foreign government to occupy Papua; raping the land of its incredibly rich resources, and butchering the indigenous population. State-endorsed barbarism seems out of the ICC’s jurisdiction, or perhaps ICC is terrified of the Indonesian government? Tens of thousands of Papuans have lost their lives, thanks to the growing epidemic of ignorance and prejudice, while majority lives in an environment of poverty and inequality.
We have seen ICC’s quick hand in sending war criminals and butchers from the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda into prisons, yet we see nothing in troubled spots brewing in this region. Maybe it is about time that societies pressure their governments into accepting the universal jurisdiction of the court to bring about justice? As one Thai social activist said to me “If we can’t get justice in Thailand, maybe we can get the farang (foreigner) to bring that politician to justice.” She was referring to the former prime minister who had ordered the crackdown in 2010.
In the end, the poor are disillusioned by a system nurtured by bureaucrats, where the rich escape justice and the marginalized are enslaved beyond the boundaries of international public law. As time passes by, civilization is created by a mountain of skulls, glued by the blood and tears of the oppressed.