THE gate to justice in Myanmar’s violence against the Rohingyas in Rakhine State has just opened, with the International Court of Justice, the United Nations’ highest judicial organ, in The Hague having ordered Myanmar on Thursday to ‘take all measures within its power’ to prevent the ‘commission of all acts’, described by the 1948 UN Genocide Convention, that are likened to genocide. More than 1.1 million of the Rohingyas — about 740,000 since August 2017 and the rest having lived here since the late 1970s — fled violence by Myanmar’s military in Rakhine State to Bangladesh. And Myanmar has since then tried to mislead the world community by doctoring information in print and online, carrying out on false propaganda and putting in efforts to deflect international pressure that could make Myanmar restrain its military and stand the country and its security forces to trial. Thousands of the Rohingyas are suspected to have been killed in the crackdown and the Rohingyas who could enter Bangladesh, who are now mostly sheltered in camps in Cox’s Bazar, have levelled widespread allegations of rape and arson by Myanmar’s military and local Buddhist militias in Rakhine State.
In the case that the African state of the Gambia seeking the imposition of emergency measures, which is supported by the 57-nation Organisation for Islamic Cooperation, Canada and the Netherlands, the UN court took cognisance of the extremely vulnerable condition of the Rohingyas in Myanmar and felt that they should be protected from further bloodshed. In the light of all this, the court ordered Myanmar to take all measures within its power to stop what has been widely likened to genocide — ‘killing members of the group’ and ‘deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part’ — report back in four months and then every six months after that and to prevent the destruction of any evidence of crimes against the Rohingyas. Yanghee Lee, the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, during her earlier visit to Bangladesh, said that the word ‘harrowing’ fell far short of an adjective to describe the tales of the Rohingyas in Myanmar. Yangee Lee, concluding her latest visit to Bangladesh on Thursday, has, meanwhile, described the support that UN Security Council members China and Russia have extended to the extreme violation of human rights in Myanmar as ‘shameful’. China and Russia in December 2018 boycotted UN talks and in December 2017 opposed a UN resolution on the Rohingya issue in support of Myanmar, apparently because of their business interest. Both the UNSC members are reported to have believed even in April 2019 that the repatriation process of the Rohingyas should be bilaterally resolved with Myanmar.
In the wake of the orders, Dhaka has requested the Myanmar authorities to fully implement the interim measures that the International Court of Justice has made. While Bangladesh must, under the circumstances, step up to the plate to make the case roll to the last point of legal course, Myanmar should learn from the essence of the legal proceedings, comply with the ICJ orders and learn to behave to ensure the accountability of the brutality of its military and justice for the Rohingyas.
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