The Myanmar government believes that its image was severely damaged internationally due to efforts to prosecute the country and its leadership in different international courts.
Myanmar’s image has been ‘severely damaged internationally,’ said Zaw Htay, spokesman of the Myanmar government, in his response to a series of international rights group’s efforts to prosecute the country and its leadership at the International Criminal Court, the UN’s International Court of Justice and a court in Argentina last week, according to a report of The Irrawaddy in Yangon published on Saturday.
Zaw Htay said this with rejecting the decision of the ICC authorising its prosecutor to proceed with a formal investigation into the alleged crimes committed against the Rohingya people of Myanmar. ICC made the announcement on November 14.
In an immediate reaction, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said crimes committed against Rohingya people on or after June 1, 2010 would come under purview of the investigation according to the court decision.
‘This is a significant development, sending a positive signal to the victims of atrocity crimes in Myanmar and elsewhere,’ she said, adding that her investigation would seek to uncover the truth through independent and impartial investigation.
Zaw Htay, however, said these moves by the international community ‘have disturbed Myanmar’s own efforts on the investigation’ on the matters and, as a consequence, ‘Myanmar’s image has been severely damaged internationally.’
ICC was the second international court to look into alleged atrocities against the Rohingya, after Gambia, an African country, lodged a case with the ICJ – the UN’s top court for disputes between and among member states – against Myanmar on allegation of carrying out genocide against the Muslim minority group.
Myanmar is, however, not a party to the ICC.
Zaw said Myanmar would respond to Gambia’s claim with the ICJ in accordance with international laws.
He added that Myanmar would not respond to a case filed with an Argentine court on allegations of crimes against Rohingya Muslims, in which State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, army chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and the presidents of both the current and previous administrations are targeted.
When contacted about the cases filed in ICC, ICJ and Argentina, a senior Bangladesh official with knowledge of the matter said the government ‘is expecting separate delegations to visit Bangladesh on the matters.’
Bangladesh is legally bound to extend cooperation to the ICC and the ICJ teams in their efforts, the official added.
More than 7,00,000 Rohingyas, mostly women, children and aged people, entered Bangladesh after fleeing unbridled murder, arson and rape during ‘security operations’ by the Myanmar military in Rakhine, what the United Nations denounced as ethnic cleansing and genocide, beginning from August 25, 2017.
The latest Rohingya influx took the number of undocumented Myanmar nationals and registered refugees in Bangladesh to about 11,16,000, according to estimates by UN agencies and Bangladesh foreign ministry.
Not a single Rohingya person has returned to Rakhine since the two countries signed three agreements for facilitating their repatriation under UN supervision.
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