Tuesday, July 31, 2012


     Jakarta, July 31, 2012 (ANTARA) - Muslim-majority countries that are members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will meet in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on August 14-15 to discuss the prevailing conditions in a number of Muslim countries, particularly Syria.
     The emergency Islamic summit has been organised by Saudi King Abdullah in order to unify Muslim countries "in this fragile time of discord", according to Saudi press.

     Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa told newsmen at his office on Monday that Indonesia would participate in the summit in Saudi to show its concern for the problems in Syria and would also discuss the discrimination against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
     Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has repeatedly expressed his concerns about the situation in Syria, suggesting that the international community is not doing enough to end the protracted violence in the country.

Therefore, he has called for the deployment of UN peacemaking force to immediately stop the violence and restore peace in the region.

The head of state said he supported UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon`s call for immediate steps to stop violence in Syria.

In order to overcome bloodshed in the Arab nation, President Yudhoyono added, the UN should immediately form a peacekeeping mission comprising defence forces from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the US, Russia, France, China and the UK.

He explained that the main objective of the effort must not be to replace or support President Bashar al Assad`s regime but to bring back peace in Syria. He had already conveyed the idea to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon over a telephone call recently.

"As one of the world`s leaders, I have called Ban Ki-moon and offered suggestions on how to end the bloodshed," President Yudhoyono said.

"According to me, the situation in Syria is already similar to that of a civil war. So, Indonesia really hopes the UN Security Council could immediately broker a ceasefire," he said at a press conference on July 19.

"A peacemaking force would focus more on creating peace than maintaining peace," Yudhoyono added.

"I am really convinced that the responsibility to stop the violence there is not solely of the Syrian people and their government but also of the international community," he said.

In February, Marty had called on the two conflicting forces in Syria - the government and the opposition - to start a dialogue and focus on diplomatic efforts.

"We have already asked the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to play a greater role in resolving the problem in Syria through talks at diplomatic forums," he said.

During separate meetings with Ban Ki-moon (at the UN Headquarters in New York on February 6) and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (also in New York on February 10, 2012) Marty had raised the issue.

"Indonesia has emphasized the need to end the violence and to start a political process in line with Syrian people`s aspirations," Marty said, adding that the safety of civilians in the country should be given top priority.

A number of Indonesian people have also expressed concern about the political turbulence in the Middle Eastern country.

Indonesia`s Parliament (DPR) has encouraged the government to make efforts to restore peace in Syria.

"We in the DPR welcome the government`s efforts to show that Indonesia cares for the Syrian people," Chairman of the Indonesian House of Representatives` (DPR) Commission I Mahfudz Siddiq had said earlier this year.

In December 2011, President had instructed his foreign minister to recall the Indonesian ambassador to Syria for communication and consultation on the safety of Indonesian nationals in the conflict-torn country.

Marty had also called on Indonesians living in Syria to return home, citing the dangers they would face by continuing to stay there.

Ever since the conflicts broke out in Syria, the Indonesian government has set up a team to look after the needs of its citizens and migrant workers in the Arab nation.

The Indonesian embassy has also stationed officials in conflict areas such as Homs, Hama and Daraa, in order to evacuate Indonesian citizens or migrant workers.

The National Agency for Manpower Placement and Protection (BNP2TKI) data showed that there were 11,760 Indonesian migrant workers in Syria, most of whom (11,559) were domestic workers while the rest 201 were formal sector workers.

Many Indonesians, mostly migrant workers, are reportedly still trapped in the violence-ravaged Syrian towns of Homs, Hama, and Allepo.

"Repatriation is going on. Of around 12,000 Indonesians in Syria, 233 have been repatriated safely to Indonesia this year. About 108 more Indonesians are already gathered at our embassy in Damascus, ready to leave the country as soon as the administration process in Syria is finished," Marty had told the press on June 11.

So far, 441 Indonesian citizens from Syria have been repatriated through 18 flights. According to the foreign ministry, 206 Indonesians are still waiting for repatriation and currently being accommodated at the embassy's shelters in Syria.

Foreign media reported that, according to an anti-Assad watchdog organization, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the death toll in the country had exceeded 17,000.

According to Thomson/Reuters, the pro-opposition observatory said at least 11,897 of those killed were civilians but it could not determine how many of those might have been fighters who had joined the insurgency led by army defectors."***1***


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