World Court orders Myanmar to protect Rohingya Muslims

28th Feb 2020
World Court orders Myanmar to protect Rohingya Muslims

Aung San Juu Kyi attends a hearing at International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands on December 10, 2019. (Credit: ICJ/Anadolu Agency)

Hamed Chapman

Arakan Rohingya Union and The European Rohingya Council have warmly welcomed the ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to order the Government of Myanmar to take all measures within its power to cease all the acts of genocide against the Rohingya ethnic minority.

“Myanmar shall, in particular, ensure that any military, paramilitary or irregular armed units which may be directed or supported by it as well as other organizations and persons which may be subject to its control, direction, or influence do not commit any acts of genocide, of conspiracy to commit genocide, or direct and public incitement to commit genocide, or of complicity in genocide against the Rohingya group, including all acts of genocide in Myanmar,” the World Court ruled last month.

The country was also told not to destroy or ender inaccessible any evidence related to the events of crimes, including without limitation by destroying or rendering inaccessible the remains of any member of the Rohingya group, who is a victim of genocidal acts, or altering the physical locations where such acts are alleged to have occurred in such a manner as to render the evidence of such acts if any, inaccessible.

The Court Order on provisional measures are binding under the international law and being a signatory of the Genocide Convention, Myanmar Government has full obligation to abide by the Court Order. The ARU and ERC call on the Government “to depart from the position of being an international pariah state and re-align itself with the world community of nations following the international laws and norms.”

“The Government of Myanmar must seize this opportunity and address the Rohingya issues first through materializing the provisional measures. Once the issues of crimes of genocide are addressed by Myanmar as directed by the Court, opportunities exist to address the reinstatement of Rohingya citizenship, ethnic identity, human rights, security, and socio-economic issues by Myanmar Government if it is serious about resolving the Rohingya crisis,” it said.

Before the 2017 military genocide, there were an estimated 1 million Rohingya living in Rakhine State, Myanmar. Over 900,000 refugees have since fled to south-eastern Bangladesh in what the UN has previously described as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world, having been denied citizenship under the country’s 1982 nationality law.

The momentous and unanimous decision by the UN’s highest court instructs the Government of Aung San Suu Kyi to respect the requirements of the 1948 Genocide Convention and warned that the estimated 600,000 Rohingya remaining in Myanmar were “extremely vulnerable” to attacks by the military. It amounts to an outright rejection of the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s defence of her country against accusations of systematic human rights abuses and war crimes during a three-day hearing at the ICJ in December.

Prior to the historic pronouncement, Myanmar tried to deflect from the expected court ruling by issuing a report of an Independent Commission of Enquiry arbitrarily established to investigate “the allegations of human right violations” against Rohingya ethnic minority that supposedly found no indication of genocidal intent. It was accompanied with a President’s statement “concurring with the recommendations of the Commission that there needs to be further criminal investigations.”

The commission report “failed to distinguish the issue of armed conflicts in Arakan from the forceful removal of nearly a million of Rohingya population from their homeland by Myanmar Government forces through targeted and violent means. Forceful removal of the Rohingya populations has also been committed previously by the Government during non-conflict times,” the ARU and ERC said. “The conducts of the Government of Myanmar clearly constitutes genocide with the violations of several articles of Genocide Convention, including Article I, II, III, IV, and VI.”

Arakan Rohingya Union, registered in the United States and recognized by the 57 member states of OIC, is a global umbrella organization representing 61 Rohingya organizations worldwide to reclaim the rights of Rohingya people in their homeland. The European Rohingya Council, an umbrella organization in Europe, is a partner organization of the ARU.

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