Myanmar faces ICJ hearing today

HR groups call for boycotting Myanmar

Shahidul Islam Chowdhury | Published: 00:31, Dec 10,2019


Aung San Suu Kyi

Myanmar state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi will appear at the International Court of Justice in The Hague today to defend her country in a genocide case filed by Gambia.

Spotlight is on Suu Kyi as she reached The Hague to defend the military’s clearance operations leading to genocidal acts against the Rohingyas in the Rakhine state of Myanmar.

The case, the first international legal attempt to bring Myanmar to justice over reported killings of thousands of Rohingyas, begins after the Gambia on November 11 filed an application at the ICJ, accusing Myanmar of violating the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide 1948.

Meanwhile, human rights groups highly critical of Rohingya persecution on Monday called for a global boycott of Myanmar, a day before the country is set to face hearings at the ICJ on allegations of genocide against the community, according to, the online news portal of France’s state-owned international news television network.

Free Rohingya Coalition said in a statement it was starting the ‘Boycott Myanmar Campaign’ with 30 organisations in 10 countries.

International rights groups and Rohingya survivor groups based in Europe are likely to stage demonstrations in the Dutch city seeking trial for atrocity crimes committed by the Myanmar military.

Supporters of the Myanmar government too might hold gatherings to support Suu Kyi.

The ICJ is scheduled to hold public hearings from today to Thursday on charges against the Myanmar military of carrying out systematic cleansing operations against the Rohingya ethnic and religious minority group since October 2016.  It would hold the hearings in a case filed by the Gambia concerning the application of the 1948 Genocide Convention.

Gambia, which has taken the legal lead on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in drafting the case with the ICJ, would describe its first round of oral observations on Tuesday, according to ICJ website.

Suu Kyi is likely to begin to defend acts of her military as the Myanmar side would place its first round of oral observations on Wednesday.

The Gambian and the Myanmar sides would present their second round of oral observations in the morning and in the afternoon respectively on Thursday.

Hours before leaving Myanmar’s new capital Nay Pyi Taw, Suu Kyi extended audience to state councillor and foreign minister Wang Yi in the city as he was over there on an official visit on Sunday. Wang Yi also called on Myanmar military chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing in Mandalay on the same day.

None of the sides, however, made it clear whether they discussed about the charges Myanmar was facing as a country at the ICJ.

Wang Yi said that the Myanmar armed forces ‘is an important force in safeguarding national peace and stability and Sino-Myanmar friendship,’ Chinese foreign ministry’s deputy director general Lijian Zhao said in a tweet.

The ICJ is composed of 15 judges elected for a nine-year term by the General Assembly and the Security Council of the UN. Its judgements have binding force and are without appeal for the parties concerned.

Gambia has engaged an international law farm and senior officials of the country to deal the matters at the ICJ.

A pool of Bangladesh diplomats led by foreign secretary M Shahidul Haque would observe the ICJ proceedings.

More than 7 lakh 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 UNHCR and the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh failed in their two attempts to repatriate the first batch of Rohingya people under bilateral mechanisms as none of them agreed to go back referring to the absence of environment in Rakhine for return.

The on-going Rohingya influx took the number of undocumented Myanmar nationals and registered refugees in Bangladesh to about 1.2 million, according to estimates by UN agencies and Bangladesh authorities.

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