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23 January, 2020 12:08:42 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 23 January, 2020 04:32:03 PM

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ICJ order on Rohingya genocide case today

Diplomatic Correspondent, Dhaka
ICJ order on Rohingya genocide case today

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) will today deliver its order on the request for provisional measures, made by The Gambia in its genocide case against Myanmar. According to ICJ, a public sitting will take place at 10am (local time) at the Peace Palace in The Hague, during which ICJ President Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf will read out the order.

The sitting will be streamed live and on demand in English and French on the court’s website (www.icj-cij.org/eng/multimedia-index), as well as on UN Web TV, the United Nations online television channel.

As a signatory to the "Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide" to prevent and punish actions of genocide in war and in peacetime, Myanmar is bound to obey whatever order comes from the court. If Myanmar does not comply with the order, the Gambia can take the matter to the Security Council of the United Nations for its implementation. The Bangladesh foreign ministry feels if the court imposes provisional measures, it will create a huge pressure on Myanmar internationally and help expedite the process of repatriation of the Rohingyas to their place of origin in Rakhine state. On the other hand, the Rohingyas who have taken shelter to Bangladesh after being persecuted by the Myanmar army are also waiting for an order from the court so that they can get justice.

Even during the hearing of the ICJ at The Hague, some of the Rohingyas from Cox’s Bazar went there to show how they were persecuted and others at the Cox’s Bazar camps chanted slogans for justice. Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) Md Mahbub Alam Talukder told The Independent yesterday (Wednesday) that there is no programme of the Rohingyas at the camps centering around the delivery of the court’s order. “We don’t have any such report,” he said. Before delivering the order, the ICJ held public hearings for three days starting on December 10 following the lawsuit filed by The Gambia on November 11, accusing Myanmar of genocide for unleashing atrocities against Rohingya Muslims who were killed by the Myanmar army in Rakhine in 2017.

Myanmar leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who was once dubbed as a democracy icon, went to the international court to defend alleged atrocities by the Myanmar generals against Rohingya Muslims. During hearings, The Gambia brought allegations that Myanmar had committed genocide unleashed by the Myanmar army on the Rohingyas.

At the hearings, The Gambia, as the state party to the genocide convention, requested the court for a number of provisional measures. These include: (a) Myanmar shall immediately take all measures within its power to prevent all acts that amount to or contribute to the crime of genocide; (b) Myanmar shall, in particular, ensure that any military, paramilitary or irregular armed units which may be directed or supported by it, as well as any organisations and persons which may be subject to its control, direction or influence, do not commit any act of genocide, of conspiracy to commit genocide, or direct and pubic incitement to commit genocide, or of complicity in genocide, against the Rohingyas; (c) Myanmar shall not destroy or render inaccessible any evidence related to the events described in the application; (d) Myanmar and the Gambia shall not take any action and shall assure that no action is taken which may aggravate or extend the existing dispute that is subject of this application, or render it more difficult of resolution and (e) Myanmar and the Gambia shall each provide a report to the court on all measures taken to give effect to this order for provisional measures, no later than four months from its issuance.

But Suu Kyi defended her country in the court by saying that Myanmar has not committed any “genocide” and that the violence erupted as an “internal armed conflict” triggered by Rohingya militant attacks on the Myanmar army.

She even said that any provisional measures on Myanmar may hamper the repatriation process of Rohingyas from Bangladesh.

The court listened to both the parties and ended public hearings on December 12.

On January 15, the ICJ said it would deliver its order on provisional measures as requested by The Gambia in the case “Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide” (the Gambia vs Myanmar). Although Myanmar is denying allegations of genocide, a UN fact-finding mission last year found evidence of such crimes and recommended that the Myanmar army must be investigated for genocide against the Rohingyas.

In August last year, the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar said the country’s military must stop using sexual and gender-based violence to terrorise and punish ethnic minorities. It said the brutal tactic was still being employed in Kachin and Shan states and was so severe in Rakhine state, during the “clearance operations” of 2017, that it was a factor indicating the Myanmar military’s genocidal intent to destroy the Rohingya population.

The mission made its conclusions, saying that soldiers routinely and systematically employed rape, gang rape, and other violent and forced sexual acts against women, girls, boys, men, and transgender people in blatant violation of international human rights law.

The Gambia put forwarded all these evidence before the ICJ and sought provisional measures immediately to put an end to violence against the Rohingya minorities.

When the ICJ is set to rule on the provisional measures, the Independent Commission of Enquiry, established by the Myanmar government, on Monday came up with a report that some soldiers probably committed war crimes, but there was no genocide.

Different bodies, however, criticised the report, saying such domestic measures by Myanmar is an attempt to camouflage the crimes committed by the Myanmar Army.

In the executive summary, the report said: “On 25 August 2017, 30 police outposts and stations and one military battalion headquarters in the northern Rakhine State were attacked by an armed group identified as the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).”

“In the following days, subsequent attacks took place against 26 additional police outposts and stations. Myanmar’s Defence Services (Tatmadaw) and the Police Forces, jointly referred to in this report as ‘security forces’, carried out security operations (so called ‘clearance operations’) to restore peace and stability in the affected areas,” it mentioned.

“There were armed incidents in approximately 60 locations when Myanmar’s Defence Services responded to the 25 August 2017 attacks by ARSA-fighters in more than 30 locations. These actions resulted in casualties, including ARSA-fighters, members of the security forces, and civilians. ARSA attacks and responses by security forces precipitated the mass displacement of people, mostly Muslims, from the northern Rakhine State into Bangladesh,” the report stated.

In such a situation, the ICJ is going to deliver its order and the global community is waiting to hear what will happen to the Rohingya people sheltered in Bangladesh.

After the persecution of Rohingyas, over 7.5 lakh of them, including children, old men, and women, were forced to leave Rakhine state to save their lives and take refuge in Bangladesh.

At present, Bangladesh is hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas in congested camps in Cox’s Bazar. Since mid-August 2017, not a single Rohingya could be repatriated despite two abortive attempts. Myanmar has not been able to create a congenial atmosphere for the safe and dignified return of the Rohingyas, Bangladesh’s foreign ministry has repeatedly said.


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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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