International Court of Justice rejects Myanmar’s objections in Rohingya genocide case

By Peter Kenny

GENEVA (AA): The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Friday rejected Myanmar’s preliminary objections in a Rohingya genocide case brought by Gambia.

In its judgment, which is final and without appeal, the ICJ unanimously rejected the first, second, and third preliminary objections raised and the fourth objection with one dissenting vote.

Myanmar’s preliminary objections were in the case concerning the Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, said the ICJ, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.

“Myanmar argued that the Court lacked jurisdiction, or alternatively that the Application was inadmissible, on the ground that, according to Myanmar, the ‘real applicant’ in the proceedings was the Organization of Islamic Cooperation,” said presiding judge Joan E. Donoghue.

Gambia instituted proceedings on Nov. 11, 2019, against Myanmar before the ICJ.

The West African country alleged violations of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide through “acts adopted, taken and condoned by the Government of Myanmar against members of the Rohingya group,” the ICJ said.

Gambia argued that “from around October 2016, the Myanmar military (Tatmadaw) and other Myanmar security forces began widespread and systematic ‘clearance operations,’ the term that Myanmar itself uses against the Rohingya group,” the court said.

“The genocidal acts committed during these operations were intended to destroy the Rohingya as a group, in whole or in part, by the use of mass murder, rape, and other forms of sexual violence, as well as the systematic destruction by fire of their villages, often with inhabitants locked inside burning houses.”

Gambia argued that from August 2017 onwards, such genocidal acts continued with Myanmar’s response of “clearance operations” on a more massive and broader geographical scale.

Gambia contents that those acts constitute violations of the Genocide Convention.

Bangladesh is now home to more than 1.2 million Rohingya refugees, most of whom fled a brutal military crackdown in their home country of Myanmar in August 2017.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed while more than 34,000 were thrown into fires, over 114,000 beaten, and as many as 18,000 Rohingya women and girls raped, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh welcomed the ruling.

“Bangladesh maintains that the question of international justice and accountability will be critical in finding a durable solution to the Rohingya crisis, and would also prove to be a confidence building measure for the sustainable repatriation of the Rohingya to their homes in Myanmar with their legitimate rights restored,” according to the Bangladeshi Foreign Ministry.

Bangladesh believes international justice is needed for persecuted Rohingya Muslims for their dignified return to Myanmar as a permanent solution to the longstanding crisis that plunged the region into a deep crisis, it said.

[Photo: : A view from a refugee camp in Bangladesh’s southern district of Cox’s Bazar on July 10, 2022. Due to the long-standing oppression and violence in Myanmar, Rohingyas, who took shelter in refugee camps, trying to survive in harsh living conditions. Women and children suffer the most from camp residents who have limited access to food and clean water. Photojournalist :Guven Yilmaz/AA]

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