Jakarta-wapresri.go.id In a hearing with Commission IX of the House of Representatives on the Draft Law on Red Cross Activities held at Gedung Nusantara I of the House complex in Jakarta on Wednesday (Feb. 8), Vice President Jusuf Kalla in his capacity as Chairman of the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) said, the Red Cross’ logo should not be put into question in the discussion of the draft law on Red Cross Activities.

“Indonesia has ratified the Geneva Convention of 1949 through Law No. 59 of 1958. However, of the 169 countries that have ratified it, Indonesia is one of two countries that does not have a law on Red Cross activities since (the discussion on) the draft law is still in a deadlock due to the misperception on the red cross symbol,” the Vice President argued, adding that it is in fact the House of Representatives that initiated the draft law ten years ago.

According to the Vice President, the Red Cross logo essentially functions as an identifier and a protector for Red Cross activist doing their mission. To make it clearly seen in the distance, he added, the logo must be simple and brightly colored.

“If for example we use the eagle as a logo, it may be only visible in 50 meter away. The logo should be visible from far away, possibly (up to) one kilometer. Otherwise, Red Cross activists could be harmed or shot from a distance,” he argued.

The Vice President felt regretted that there has been an assumption that the Red Cross emblem resembles the symbol of a religion.

“The Red Cross emblem is symmetrical, while the Christian cross symbol has longer legs, (it is) very different. Therefore, do not indicate that the Red Cross is the symbol of a religion,” he said.

The Vice President argued, the Red Cross emblem is like a plus (+) sign, which is actually created by Muslim mathematician Muhammad Ibn Musa Al Khwarizmi in the eighth century.

The Vice President further said, in the Geneva Conventions, there are only two organizations that have a mandate to implement the rights and obligations of Red Cross activities, which are the armed forces’ medical services and the Red Cross volunteers.

“In the time of war, both have to use the Red Cross emblem, should not bring any weapons, and should not be fired as they have the right to take care of the injured in a war from both opposing parties and thus they should not take sides,” said the vice president.

To that end, the Vice President added, it is preferable that in such a meeting the Indonesian Military (TNI) be presented.

The Vice President also stated, according to the sixth principles of the Geneva Convention, that in one country, there should only be one national association, either the Red Cross or the Red Crescent.

“PMI was established on September 17, 1945 and has since been using the emblem of the Red Cross, although at that time the Red Crescent emblem already existed,” he said.

PMI, the Vice President added, is designated as the organization running the Red Cross activities in Indonesia under Presidential Decree of Federal Republic of Indonesia (RIS) No. 25 of 1950 renewed with Presidential Decree No. 246 of 1963.

During its development, he further said, PMI has not only given aids in the country, but also participated in humanitarian aid to foreign countries such as in Pakistan, Myanmar, the Philippines, Rohingya, and Japan.

With the Red Cross law, said the Vice President, it is expected that Indonesia’s commitment to helping other countries in need will be stronger.

“Red Cross activities are in need of a law because it involves international relations,” he said.

During the public hearing that lasted about two hours, all members of the fractions present seemed to give a positive response and support the completion of draft law.

“Each of us must support the government in performing humanitarian tasks. We will surely support this law on humanitarian activities,” said the Commission IX chairman Dede Yusuf concluding the meeting.

Present at the hearing were members of the nine fractions of Commission IX, Vice Chairman of the House of Representatives Fahri Hamzah, Chief Executive of PMI Ginandjar Kartasasmita, and some central board members of PMI.