THE process for the repatriation of the Rohingyas having run into glitches for a couple of time, the issue of the violence by Myanmar’s military of the genocidal proportion that has driven away about 740,000 of the Rohingyas since August 2017 into Bangladesh, to add to about 400,000 having already lived here, has reached the International Court of Justice, still pending further proceedings. The repatriation of the Rohingyas could not begin because of various ploys, including the continuous creation of a fearful situation in Rakhine State which is the homeland of the Rohingyas, that Myanmar has so far employed. A few initiatives for a sustainable, voluntary and dignified repatriation of the Rohingyas have faltered in the past three years. Despite a global condemnation of the violence, Naypyidaw pursued its apartheid policy against the community and denied having any responsibility for the crime that its military committed. An independent commission appointed by the Myanmar government on Monday said that war crimes may have been committed against the Rohingyas by security forces during counterinsurgency operations but there is ‘no evidence’ of genocide.
In a statement, the Free Rohingya Coalition has refuted the commission’s findings and described the report as another example of Naypyidaw’s ploy of blatant denial and efforts to deflect international pressure that Myanmar has started facing in recent times. In 2018, Myanmar set up the Independent Commission of Enquiry in response to international calls for accountability from Myanmar over the Rohingya crisis. The coalition questioned the credibility of the commission as it echoed the line of defence that Myanmar’s state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi presented during proceedings against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice. The case against Myanmar was filed by Gambia in November 2019, alleging that Myanmar was committing ‘an ongoing genocide’ against its minority Rohingya Muslims. Both the commission’s report and legal counsels at the international court argued that Myanmar security forces may have used ‘disproportionate’ force, committed war crimes and other human rights violations, but that there were no acts of genocide. The findings play into the hands of the perpetrators who know that prosecuting them for war crimes and crimes against humanity will not fall within the jurisdiction of the court.
The coalition is not, therefore, wrong when it says that Myanmar’s continued denial is nothing but the demonstration of its lack of political will to resolve the crisis. It is absolutely appalling that Myanmar has defied any moral reasoning, all diplomatic decorum, and international laws to protect rights of the minority by continuing an apartheid policy towards the Rohingyas. Bangladesh and the international community must, therefore, remain vocal about Myanmar’s ploys to frustrate any repatriation process.
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