The International Court of Justice on Thursday ordered Myanmar to take all measures within its powers to prevent all genocidal acts against Rohingyas and protect them from persecution and atrocities and report back within four months.
The Court has found that there was prima facie evidence to believe that the estimated 600,000 Rohingya remaining in Myanmar are ‘extremely vulnerable’ to violence at the hands of the military.
It has ruled that a fit case was made out for ordering provisional measures to avoid “irreparable prejudice” to Rohingyas, who continued to be vulnerable.
Gambia had launched a lawsuit in November at the United Nations’ highest body for disputes between states, accusing Myanmar of genocide against Rohingya in violation of a 1948 convention. It highlighted the issue of migration of nearly 730,000 Rohingya refugees following alleged act of State-sponsored violence. They fled Myanmar after a military-led crackdown in 2017 and were forced into squalid camps across the border in Bangladesh. The UN investigators concluded that the military campaign had been executed with “genocidal intent”.
Myanmar’s State Counsellor and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyui had attended a court hearing to support the Government. The Financial Times published an article by Myanmar‘s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi in which she said war crimes may have been committed against Rohingya Muslims but that refugees had exaggerated the abuses against them. Suu Kyi has asked the judges to drop the case.
Rohingya activists, who had come from all over the world to the Hague, reacted with joy to the unanimous ruling which also explicitly recognised their ethnic minority as a protected group under the Genocide Convention.
“That is something we have been fighting for a long time: to be recognised as humans the same as everyone else,” Yasmin Ullah, a Canada-based Rohingya activist said. Majority Buddhist Myanmar generally refuses to describe the Muslim Rohingya as an ethnic group and refers to them as Bangladeshi migrants.
Cover Photo: Rohingya refugees take part in a prayer at the Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Reuters
With input from agencies