The younger generation of officers of the Armed Forces today may not know that Sudan's President Omar Hassan Al Bashir was a student at the Malaysian Armed Forces Staff College (MAFSC), popularly known as Haigate, in 1983. He was of the rank of Colonel at the time, whereas other students were only of the rank of Majors and Lt Colonels.
In 1973 and in the rank of Captain, I was previliged to have attended a course at the School of Infantry, Quetta, Pakistan. Among the many overseas students attending the course with me was Major Omar Hassan Al Bashir and three other officers from the Sudanese army.
Students from overseas were accommodated in a three room bungalow houses located a walking distance from the school. I was placed in a bungalow next to Major Omar Hassan.
The course also had two officers from Jordan who lived within the proximity of our houses. One of them (the name I could not remember) frequented my house for discussions on the day's work. Somehow, this particular officer is fond of wrestling, and I was his usual victim. There was no way that I could stop him from coming to my house and to wrestle with me. Neither could I beat him in the wrestle because he was much larger than me. It was better that I declare myself the loser early, than to suffer his brutal twisting of my entire body.
This regular wrestling match came to the notice of Major Omar Hassan, and speaking in Arabic, warned the Jordanian officer to stop bullying me. It was only after this warning that the Jordanian officer ceased coming to my house for a wrestle. I was so relieved, and had to thanked Major Omar Hassan for having saved me from the regular bashing.
In early 2000, President Omar Hassan was in Malaysia to attend the Langkawi International Dialogue at Langkawi. Before returning home, he was in Kuala Lumpur to attend the Malaysia – Sudan Business Forum at Nikko Hotel. Since I was at the forum, I thought I would take the opportunity to meet him and to see if he could still remember me.
When the forum ended, I stood and the entrance of the hall to await him. As he walked the gallery, he noticed me, raised his hands and as he approached closer to me, he called me by my name. I was surprised that he could still remember my name, and when I shook his hands, the first words that came out from him was “Arshad, are you now a millionaire?”. I quickly replied ,'Sir, certainly not”. A brief conversation ensued, and before parting he asked me to visit Sudan, which till today I have yet to make the trip.
Now the International Criminal Court (ICC) of the Hague has indicted President Omar Hassan for crimes against humanity in the Dafur. What we read and hear from the media concerning Dafur is mainly the western reports and perspective of the war in that region. Personally, I do not believe President Omar Hassan is personally involved in the killings in Dafur, and the charges against him are part of a grand design by the US and its western allies to evict him from power.
If it was merely on the basis of President Omar Hassan being the President and the military commander, then former US President Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfled, these three rumour mongers, should similarly be indicted for even worse war crimes against humanity in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The war in Iraq is now in its fifth year, with more than 4000 US soldiers dead and thousands more innocent Iraqi children, women and men had been shot and bombed to smithereens. Just look at the untold destruction caused by the US forces in the two countries, that had brought the countries back to its medieval days. And have we forgotten the infamous Abu Gharib torture of Iraqi prisoners by US troops? Why has the US and its western allies been so concern with the war in Sudan? Is it not the enormous oil resources of Sudan that they want?
Let us all watch how far the indictment of President Omar Hassan will go, and the on-going call by some US citizens to bring Bush to face trial in the US courts for declaring the illegal war on Iraq.
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION
Posted at 8.20 pm on Mar 9, 2009