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Jakarta Post

RI defends Bashir'€™s attendance at OIC Summit

  • Anggi Lubis and Tama Salim

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, March 8, 2016   /  08:20 am

Indonesia has defended its decision to invite Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to attend 5th Extraordinary the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), despite the International Criminal Court (ICC) having issued warrants for Bashir'€™s arrest for alleged war crimes in Darfur.

The Hague-based ICC issued arrest warrants in 2009 and 2010, accusing Bashir of masterminding genocide and other atrocities in his campaign to crush a revolt in the western Darfur region.

Bashir is the only sitting head of state wanted for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The UN estimates that 300,000 people have died in Darfur since 2003, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, along with the US and the EU, has called on the leader to be detained. Member states of the ICC are obliged to act on arrest warrants.

Bashir, who led a Sudanese delegation at the summit, arrived in Jakarta on Sunday.

As well as accepting his presence at the conference, President Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo held a bilateral meeting with Bashir on Monday, noting the intention of some Indonesian companies to invest in the oil sector in Sudan.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arrmanatha Nasir said that the OIC host was obliged to invite all members of the grouping.

'€œWe'€™re not allowed to cherry pick which countries we want to invite like on an à la carte menu at a restaurant,'€ Arrmanatha told reporters on the sidelines of the summit on Monday.

In this case, he added, Indonesia would honor all participating OIC member states and treat all heads of state with the same respect.

Since Indonesia was not party to the ICC, Arrmanatha said he had no comment to make on any dispute between Bashir and the ICC.

Wahjudi Djafar of the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) criticized the government'€™s decision to allow Bashir'€™s attendance at the summit.

Despite Indonesia not being a party to the Rome Statute, the country needs to cooperate with the ICC in addressing the situation in Darfur.

'€œBy allowing Bashir to come, Indonesia defies its international obligations by allowing an international fugitive to step in and attend the summit,'€ Wahjudi said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the US expressed concern over Bashir'€™s travel to Jakarta to attend the OIC summit,

'€œPresident Bashir has been charged by the ICC with war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, and warrants for his arrest remain outstanding,'€ the US Embassy in Jakarta said in a written statement.

While the US is not party to the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC, Washington has claimed it strongly supports the ICC'€™s efforts to hold accountable those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur.

Last year, Bashir canceled a trip to attend the Commemoration of the Asia Africa Conference in Jakarta. His plan to attend the event sparked protests among rights groups who wanted the president arrested.

Bashir, who has ruled Sudan since a 1989 Islamist- and army-backed coup, rejects the ICC'€™s authority. Nonetheless, he had not traveled outside the Middle East or Africa since 2011 until he visited China in September to attend celebrations commemorating the end of World War II. China is also not a member of the ICC.

In June last year, Bashir was forced to flee South Africa after a court ruled he should be banned from leaving pending the outcome of a hearing on his possible arrest.

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