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Sign the Genocide convention

Jakarta Post Editorial - January 31, 2024

Jakarta – The active participation of Indonesia in supporting South Africa's lawsuit against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has won accolades both at home and overseas. Drawing such a clear line is indeed a manifestation of the constitutional mandate.

In its provisional decision on Friday, the court said Israel must "take all measures" to limit the death and destruction caused by its military campaign, prevent and punish incitement to genocide and ensure access to humanitarian aid. It will, however, take the court years to arrive at a final and binding verdict.

While we fully appreciate the concerted efforts by the government, especially the Foreign Ministry, we also sense a deep irony because Indonesia, a staunch defender of Palestine's independence, cannot officially join South Africa in bringing Israel to justice for its acts of genocide committed in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

To be more specific, Indonesia has no moral ground to hold Israel responsible for its acts of genocide, unlike South Africa, because we are not a party to the 1948 Geneva Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the basis for South Africa's lawsuit.

The convention was adopted to prevent the recurrence of genocidal crimes, including the tragedy of the Holocaust that claimed the lives of about 6 million Jewish people during World War II.

South Africa had demanded that the ICJ immediately order "provisional measures" that are badly needed "to protect against further, severe and irreparable harm to the rights of the Palestinian people under the Genocide Convention, which continue to be violated with impunity". The court, however, did order Israel to end its war.

Israel insisted that the war is an act of self-defense following the Oct. 7 attacks by the militant group Hamas, which killed 1,130 Israelis and foreign nationals and kidnapped hundreds of innocent victims. The retaliation constitutes an act of genocide as not only has it killed more than 25,000 Palestinians, mostly children and women, but it has also destroyed homes and public facilities and deprived the population of access to water and electricity.

There is no option for Indonesia other than signing the Geneva Convention and, if time permits, ratifying it if it wants to make a real impact. It will only require political will from President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, whose term will expire in October, to make it happen.

Even if the current administration cannot ratify the convention, its successor can.

Sure, the ratification is not without political and legal consequences. As a party to the convention, Indonesia may face more pressure to settle past atrocities, especially the communist purge in 1965-1966 that is believed to have claimed about 500,000 lives, although some set the figure at 1 million. Indonesia has also been accused of committing an act of genocide against Papuans.

But Indonesia should have the courage to join the Genocide Convention. We have ratified several conventions on human rights protection, such as the convention against torture and other cruel or degrading treatment or punishment. We also included the convention for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearance in our justice system.

Indonesian leaders, from first president Sukarno to the incumbent Jokowi, are known for their support for the formation of the independent state of Palestine. Indonesia's persistent defense of the Palestinian people's rights goes beyond Islamic solidarity as the Constitution vigorously mandates the nation to fight against colonialism.

In the same vein, the late South African legendary leader Nelson Mandela insisted that the nation help set Palestine free from the oppression of Israel. Probably there is no other country better than South Africa in bringing Israel to justice.

We call on Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi to convince President Jokowi that signing the Geneva Convention will do more good than harm to Indonesian diplomacy. After all, joining the treaty is a responsibility for a country that is recognized as one of the world's largest democracies.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/opinion/2024/01/31/sign-the-genocide-convention.htm