Judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) have rejected Myanmar’s preliminary objections to a case alleging that the country’s authorities are responsible for genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority. The ruling paves the way for the complaint to be heard in its entirety. However, the process could take years.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) rejects Myanmar’s claims and will continue with the investigation into the Rohingya genocide.
The ruling establishes that the UN court has jurisdiction over the case and sets the stage for hearings that discuss evidence of atrocities against the Muslim minority, which human rights groups and a United Nations investigation say violate the 1948 Genocide Convention. .
The court “determines that it has jurisdiction to consider the request presented by the Republic of The Gambia,” said the president of the court, US Judge Joan E. Donoghue.
As the ICJ ruled today that the case against Myanmar for the military’s genocide against the Rohingya will proceed, the BBC reminds the world that the military continues its widespread murder rape and torture of civilians on orders from above. https://t.co/bjwD8xJFCf
— UN Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews (@RapporteurUn) July 22, 2022
The landmark complaint was filed by The Gambia in 2019 and accuses the Burmese authorities of the murder, torture and rape against thousands of people from the Rohingya Muslim minority, amid a brutal crackdown by the armed forces that began in 2017.
The ruling of this Friday, July 22, rejects the arguments presented by the lawyers of the Myanmar authorities in the hearings of last February, when they argued that the case should be dismissed because the ICJ only rules in disputes between States and Gambia filed the complaint on behalf of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation.
But the justices noted that both The Gambia and Myanmar are party to the convention and all signatories have a duty to ensure compliance.
“Any state party to the Genocide Convention can invoke the responsibility of another member state, including by initiating court proceedings,” Donoghue said, reading a summary of the decision.
The judges also rejected Myanmar’s claim that Gambia could not bring the case because it was not directly related to the events and that there was no legal dispute between the two nations before the case was brought.
“Accelerate the delivery of justice for the Rohingya”
The decision paves the way for full hearings before the main judicial body of the United Nations, regarding the accusations against the bloody crackdown by the authorities of Myanmar, a country with a Buddhist majority.
However, the process could take years. “Accelerate the delivery of justice for the Rohingya,” read a banner from a small group of protesters gathered outside the courthouse in The Hague, the Netherlands.
Despite the time it could take to resolve the case, Gambia’s Attorney General and Justice Minister Dawda Jallow welcomed the move on Friday. “We are very happy that justice has been done,” she considered.
Meanwhile, Myanmar’s representative, Ko Ko Hlaing, minister for international cooperation in the military government, said his nation “will do everything possible to defend our country and protect our national interest.”
Nations such as Canada and the Netherlands have supported Gambia and in a statement in 2020 they assured that the African country “took a laudable step to end impunity for those who commit atrocities in Myanmar and fulfill this promise and it is our obligation to support these efforts that They concern all of humanity.”
How did Gambia come to denounce Myanmar for the Rohingya genocide?
The case is considered historic as it is the first of its kind since the 1980s, but it would not have reached the hands of international justice had it not been for an unexpected change in Gambia’s political agenda.
In 2018, a year after the repression began, the foreign minister of the African country distanced himself from the annual conference of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation that took place in Bangladesh, precisely the country that has received the most refugees from the Muslim minority.
In his place, the then Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou was sent. And for this official who had spent more than ten years prosecuting Rwandan genocide cases committed in the 1990s, the harrowing accounts of what happened to the Rohingyas were impossible to ignore.
He visited the refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, where many described how Burmese security forces burned people alive, including children, raped women and killed men. “I saw the word genocide written in all these stories,” Tambadou later recounted in an interview with Reuters.
At least 1.5 million survivors have fled the country, most of them to neighboring Bangladesh. By the end of August 2021, according to UNICEF, that nation was hosting more than 890,000 refugees of that ethnic group, of whom approximately half were children.
Another 600,000 Rohingya remain in Myanmar’s southwestern Rakhine state and “still face genocide,” while “one million people in camps in Bangladesh have hope for justice,” said Tun Khin, president of the Burmese Rohingya Organization, based in the UK.
The Myanmar military launched what it called a clean-up campaign in Rakhine in 2017, after an attack by a Rohingya insurgent group. However, the Burmese authorities have rejected the accusations of genocide.
But in 2019, lawyers representing The Gambia before the ICJ backed up their accusations with maps, satellite images and graphic photos of the military campaign.
That prompted an interim ruling ordering Myanmar to do everything it can to prevent atrocities against the Rohingyas, in a bid to protect the community, while the case winds up in The Hague.
With Reuters, AP and EFE
Source: France 24