Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Darfur Groups Press US to Get Tough with Turkey over Bashir Trip

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Darfur Groups Press US to Get Tough with Turkey over Bashir Trip

Article excerpt

Turkey's plans to host Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir - who faces an international arrest warrant for war crimes in Darfur - at an Islamic conference is intensifying the critical light already shining on Turkey and Sudan. It is also prompting calls for President Obama to get tough with Turkey and with other international partners, including China, that have disregarded the criminal charges against Mr. Bashir and maintained close economic ties to Sudan. Bashir is scheduled to arrive Sunday in Turkey for a Monday summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). The planned visit has prompted the European Union to ask Turkey to revoke its invitation to Bashir, who was indicted in March by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes in Sudan's Darfur region. Human rights and Darfur advocacy groups in the United States are pressing the Obama administration to encourage Turkey, a US ally in NATO, to arrest Bashir if he carries through with his trip. The Save Darfur Coalition is planning a protest Monday outside the Turkish Embassy in Washington, at which the coalition will try to deliver to the embassy a pair of handcuffs with which to arrest Bashir. Turkey "should align itself with its European friends" and those in other parts of the world "and dissuade Bashir from coming," says Jerry Fowler, president of the Save Darfur Coalition. "If he insists on coming, Turkey should arrest him." That seems unlikely to happen. Turkey's president, Abdullah Gul, responded to the EU's request by telling his European neighbors to mind their own business. "What are they interfering for?" Mr. Gul told reporters, according to Reuters. "This is a meeting [of the OIC]; it is not a bilateral meeting." The tone underscores the rising tensions between Turkey and the EU over Turkey's drawn-out candidacy for EU membership. …

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