POST TIME: 10 December, 2019 09:28:11 AM
5 Rohingyas to testify at ‘genocide’ hearing in ICJ

5 Rohingyas to testify at ‘genocide’ hearing in ICJ

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A five-member Rohingya team has arrived in The Hague ahead of the “genocide” hearings against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) today. The team is likely to describe the atrocities of the Myanmarese army against Rohingyas in Rakhine state in August 2017 at the hearings. Five Rohingya witnesses—Hasina Begum, Setara Begum, Sajeda Begum, Yusuf Ali and Hamida Khatun—had left Bangladesh for the Hague on December 8, foreign ministry sources said. Also, a 20-member Bangladeshi delegation, led by senior foreign ministry secretary Md Shahidul Haque, has reached the Hague to extend cooperation to the Gambia, which filed a lawsuit of genocide against Myanmar, the sources added.

A foreign ministry official told The Independent that the Rohingya team been sent to the Hague with the Bangladeshi delegation to depose as witnesses to the alleged genocide if required. On his part, Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Md Mahbub Alam Talukder said: “They (Rohingya delegation) saw how the Myanmarese military attacked and killed Rohingyas and for what reason. That’s why we selected the five Rohingyas from different camps in Cox’s bazar as per the direction of the foreign ministry.” “Now Bangladesh is a victim country after the influx of around seven lakh Rohingyas from Rakhine state,” he added.

The deputy commissioner (DC) of Cox’s Bazar, Md Kamal Hossain, said the five Rohingyas were sent to the Hague as they can explain the real facts of atrocities by the Myanmarese military that the UN, the US, and others have described as “ethnic cleansing”. “Now, the local people of Cox’s Bazar are suffering after the influx of seven lakh Rohingyas, who fled from Myanmar into Bangladesh after the military crackdown there in 2017,” he added. Sources said the Rohingya delegation will attend the three-day-long hearings and then return to Bangladesh on December 14. The ICJ will start public hearings on Gambia’s lawsuit from today. Sources said RRRC and UNHCR officials were communicating with the Myanmarese authorities through proper channels for the repatriation of registered Rohingyas to that country.

Around 11 lakh Rohingyas have been staying in different camps in Cox’s Bazar after arriving in Bangladesh since August 25, 2017 after the military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. On April 13, 2018, a MoU was signed between the UNHCR high commissioner and the Bangladeshi foreign secretary on the safe, voluntary, and dignified return of Rohingyas in line with international standards.

On November 23, 2017, Myanmar and Bangladesh had signed an agreement titled “Arrangement on Return of Displaced Persons from Rakhine State” during the Bangladeshi foreign minister’s visit to Myanmar.