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Rohingya genocide case against Myanmar continues in international court – International Courts & Tribunals



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The Arakan Rohingya National Organisation
has welcomed
the announcement that the United Kingdom and
Germany will be intervening in The Gambia versus Myanmar
proceedings that are currently before the International Court of
Justice.

Filed with the ICJ registrar in November 2019 with the
support
of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation,
the legal action
sees Gambia charging Myanmar with breaching
the
UN Genocide Convention
in terms of its treatment of the
Rohingya people in 2016 and 2017.

The case was brought against Myanmar when Aung Sun Suu Kyi’s
2015 elected National League of Democracy Party was still in power.
However, the military junta, which ruled the nation for half a
century prior to the NLD taking office, retook control of the
country
in a February 2021 coup
.

And last
July
saw the ICJ reject Myanmar’s initial objections to the
case that were put to the court in February. The junta raised
four objections
, which centred around whether Gambia, a nation
not affected by the actions in question, lacks standing to bring
the case because of its non-involvement.

Extreme
discrimination

The Rohingya are a stateless people who live in Myanmar’s
north-western Rakhine state. Prior to the Myanmar military or
Tatmadaw unleashing a brutal attack on the mainly Muslim minority
in August 2017, an estimated
1.3 million
Rohingya lived in the region.

Following the attack, over 900,000 Rohingya fled across the
border into
refugee camps in Bangladesh
.

Tensions between Rakhine state’s majority Buddhist
population and the Rohingya have been simmering for decades. And
in 2012
, sectarian violence broke out, which saw 140,000
Muslims internally displaced, and thousands later trying to flee
the country in rickety boats.

The discrimination against the Rohingya people goes much further
than their Rakhine Buddhist neighbours though, as was evidenced
with the passing of the 1982
Citizenship Law
, which failed to recognise the Rohingya as a
distinct group in the country, rendering them stateless.

Gambia claims that “against the backdrop of longstanding
persecution and discrimination”, the Tatmadaw commenced
“clearance operations” in Rakhine in October 2016, which
involved genocidal acts, including mass
murder
, rape and the systematic destruction of villages by
fire.

“From August 2017 onwards, such genocidal acts continued
with Myanmar’s resumption of ‘clearance operations’ on
a more massive and wider geographical scale,”
the Gambian application to the ICJ
reads.

The crime of
genocide

Adopted by the UN General Assembly
in December 1948
, the Genocide Convention defines the crime as
any one of five acts perpetrated against a national, ethnic, racial
or religious group with intent to destroy it, in whole or in
part.

The five acts defined as genocidal in nature are killing members
of a group, subjecting them to serious bodily or mental harm,
inflicting conditions calculated to cause their physical
destruction, the prevention of births or forced child removals.

The ICJ released its determination on Gambia’s application
or memorial
on 22 July
, in which it found that the court has jurisdiction
to proceed with the case based on article 9 of the Convention, and
it set the
date of 24 April next year
, as a deadline for Myanmar to file a
counter-memorial.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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