Indonesia must not host Al-Bashir

Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir. © Financial Times

Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir. © Financial Times

Ten years after the situation in Darfur was referred to the ICC, Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir is still travelling around the world. Al-Bashir has been invited to attend an Asia-Africa summit in Indonesia this month, but civil society is doing its best to convince Indonesia to rescind the invitation.

Al-Bashir is accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur. The ICC has issued two warrants for his arrest.

By welcoming Al-Bashir, Indonesia is turning a blind eye towards the atrocities in Darfur, which have continued for over 12 years.

In a letter to Indonesian President Joko Widodo, BashirWatch—a network of several civil society groups, including our Coalition—called on Indonesian authorities to bring Al-Bashir to justice:

“The Bashir Watch Coalition urges the Government of Indonesia to stand for justice for the people of Sudan and refuse to allow an individual charged with genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity into its territory. If Bashir enters Indonesia, this coalition calls on the Indonesian authorities to arrest him and transfer him to the ICC so that he can face the charges against him.”

Although Indonesia is not an ICC member state, the UN Security Council resolution which referred the situation in Darfur to the Court urges all UN members to fully cooperate with the ICC.

Indonesia has repeatedly pledged to join the ICC in the past, and BashirWatch urged it to follow through on those commitments:

“Your Excellency, as the third largest democracy in the world and a central player in the Southeast Asian region, it is imperative that Indonesia promotes justice and accountability at the regional and international levels. Indonesia must demonstrate its leadership in the region and responsibility to its people by ensuring that when genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes are committed, those responsible are brought to justice. We encourage the Indonesian government to complete this objective and urgently ratify the Rome Statute.”

Due to the ICC’s lack of enforcement mechanisms, the Court must rely on member states to execute arrest warrants. Unfortunately, a number of countries have failed to do so, including ICC member states Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Civil society strenuously objected to Al-Bashir’s travel to those countries, and in Nigeria filed a motion to compel the government to arrest the Sudanese president, prompting him to abruptly leave the country.

In 2011, public pressure forced the cancellation of a planned visit to Malaysia. At the time, a Malaysian official said Al-Bashir’s appearance could prove to be an “embarrassment” to the country.

Indonesia should follow Malaysia’s example. By withdrawing its invitation to Al-Bashir and joining the ICC, Indonesia can show the victims of Darfur that—after over a decade—their suffering has not been forgotten.

Have your say – Should Indonesia withdraw its invitation to Omar Al-Bashir?

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