The UN’s highest court is instructing Myanmar to do “everything in its power” to prevent the genocide of its Rohingya Muslim population. It’s the first time the International Court of Justice has stepped into the ongoing crisis. The Court has rejected arguments from Myanmar’s proxy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and sets out urgent steps to end the violence on the ethnic minority living in the west of the country.
A 2017 military crackdown by Burmese army soldiers (the Tatmadaw) sent around 740,000 Rohingya fleeing north into Bangladesh. Thousands are suspected to have been killed in the crackdown, that’s been termed ‘ethnic genocide’ by the UN, and refugees have made widespread reports of rape and the burning of their villages by the Tatmadaw and local Buddhist militias. 600,000 people remain in the Bangladeshi refugee camps, mostly around the border city of Cox’s Bazar, remain awaiting repatriation.
The International Court of Justice judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf says that “the court was of the opinion that the Rohingya in Myanmar remain extremely vulnerable”.
The court ordered Myanmar to “take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts” described by the 1948 UN Genocide Convention.
The court has issued specific ordered to the Myanmar government to report back to the UN within four months, and then provide updates every six months. It’s also instructed Burmese authorities to prevent destroying evidence of crimes against the Rohingya.
Nobel peace laureate, and now civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been widely criticised for her defence of the same military organisation that imprisoned her for years, claimed in an opinion piece that some Rohingya refugees “may have exaggerated” the extent of the abuses.
Writing in the Financial Times, “…the international justice system may not yet be equipped to filter out misleading information before shadows of incrimination are cast over entire nations and governments.”
Suu Kyi also asked that Burmese authorities should have time to act on the results of an “internal investigation”, which this week admitted war crimes may have been committed but ruled out genocide.
The Myanmar military continues to obfuscate with a spokesperson telling reporters yesterday in the capital Naypyidaw it would simply “follow the instructions of the government”.
SOURCE: AFP | Thai PBS World
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