WHILE Bangladesh has not so far been able to decide whether to respond to a request that the Hague-based International Criminal Court made seeking observations and evidence to decide if the court has jurisdiction over Myanmar to set about an investigation of the expulsion of minority Rohingyas, more than a million of whom have taken refuge in Bangladesh fleeing violence by their security forces in their homeland Rakhine State, two happenings of Thursday call out the government on proceeding with a positive response. Hundreds of Rohingya victims, as New Age reported on Friday, filed an appeal with the judges at the International Criminal Court to grant prosecutors jurisdiction to investigate the deportation of the Rohingyas from Myanmar to Bangladesh. As the war crimes court does not have an automatic jurisdiction over Myanmar because it is no party to the Rome statute, while Bangladesh is, the court’s chief prosecutor early April sought a ruling on ‘whether the court may exercise’ ‘territorial jurisdiction’ to open an investigation of the expulsion of the Rohingyas, ‘intentionally deported across the international border into Bangladesh.’ The international court then made the request, giving Bangladesh till June 11 to respond to the request for observations and evidence about which Dhaka has been undecided.
The parliamentary standing committee on the foreign ministry, on the home front, on Thursday asked the foreign ministry, which was hesitant about making any response to the ICC request, to cooperate with the International Criminal Court in deciding on the institution of an investigation of the persecution of the Rohingyas in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. A section of the Bangladesh government is reported to have believed that the issue of the Rohingya crisis could be resolved through bilateral negotiations with Myanmar, instead of mounting pressure on it involving the international community, which has presumably been at the root of its indecision about responding to the ICC request. While the parliamentary standing committee observed that Myanmar authorities, both civil and military, were making delay in taking back the Rohingyas, the foreign minister, however, sought to differ, as is reported by New Age also on Friday, with the parliamentary standing committee observation on Myanmar’s reluctance. Yet, Myanmar has signed three instruments with Bangladesh since November 2017 on the return of the displaced Myanmar citizens sheltered in Bangladesh after October 2016, although more than a quarter million Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh since the late 1980s, but nothing has so far moved that could make a graceful, voluntary and sustainable return of the Rohingyas because of Myanmar’s reluctance.
While bilateral, and multilateral, negotiations have been on at various levels and in various forums, yielding little of what the Rohingyas and the Bangladesh authorities want, Bangladesh, in what has so far followed, must respond to the ICC request to provide it with observations and evidence aimed at a trial of the ‘textbook example of ethnic cleansing’, as the United Nations earlier put it. By doing so, Bangladesh will advance one cause of the Rohingyas, who have remained to be the most persecuted community in the world now.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Editorial