Giving an impression that one cannot proceed with business as usual, foreign affairs experts have felt the importance of engaging more deeply with Myanmar’s friends — China, Japan, India and Russia —taking advantage of the top United Nations court’s ruling on Myanmar without losing focus on the repatriation issue.
Terming it a huge victory for all the genocide victims, including Rohingyas, the experts emphasised that Myanmar’s friends should understand the situation and put more pressure on Myanmar to have a sustainable solution to the Rohingya crisis.
‘I urge the international community to keep the credible evidence of on-going crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide front of mind in its relations with Myanmar. In the face of this, one cannot proceed with business as usual,’ said Yanghee Lee, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar on Thursday before leaving Dhaka.
Foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen said Bangladesh would definitely enhance its engagement with Russia, China, India and Japan and hoped that they would help find a sustainable solution to the Rohingya crisis using their leverage on Myanmar.
He said the full implementation of the ICJ ruling would help create a conducive environment for the repatriation of Rohingyas and guarantee their safety and security in the Rakhine State.
‘We believe the ICJ ruling on provisional measures, as sought by The Gambia, will generate confidence among Rohingyas living at camps in Bangladesh and encourage them to return to their homeland in Myanmar,’ said the foreign secretary terming the ruling a victory for all the victims of genocide.
He said Bangladesh would remain engaged with Myanmar in its efforts to expedite a ‘safe, dignified and sustainable repatriation’ of Rohingyas back to their homeland in the Northern Rakhine State with active engagement of the international community.
The foreign secretary said this ruling would automatically go to the security council, and the security council would have the responsibility to act.
‘Lobbying with our friends will have to be redoubled so that Myanmar feels the pinch that it’s not only under legal obligation, but there’s a huge international outcry,’ Masud Momen said.
Professor of international relations and director of Centre for Genocide Studies of Dhaka University Imtiaz Ahmed said it was a big victory for the Rohingyas and for the entire humanity and there had to be an all-out effort to further internationalise the issue.
Addressing a panel discussion at a city hotel on ‘ICJ ruling on the provisional measures on Rohingya genocide’ on Thursday night, Imtiaz suggested taking the issue to the friends of Myanmar - China, Japan and India.
He laid emphasis on engaging with the friends of Myanmar more deeply in multiple ways so that they also understand and put pressure on Myanmar.
Imtiaz said it was also important for them to make efforts to ensure greater participation of the Rohingyas, not just for the Rohingyas at the camps but throughout the world.
Former foreign secretary M Shahidul Haque said the victory goes to the collective humanity and recognition of Rohingya and appreciated prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s leadership to take up the accountability issue on global stage.
Like Bangladesh, he said, other countries would have to revisit their foreign policy.
Head of development assistance, high commission of Canada Phedra Moon Morris said this was a victory of the rule of law.
She laid emphasis on taking active measures to halt the rights abuses and appreciated Bangladesh for demonstrating the courage.
UN human rights expert Lee said grave allegations of international crimes remain to be effectively addressed by the authorities in Myanmar.
‘I’ve lost my optimism - how could I be optimistic with the on-going credible allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity and possibly genocide having been committed in Myanmar, and with justice and accountability still not yet within reach?,’ she said.
‘But I still hold out hope that the promised democratic transition will proceed, as it is not too late for the government to change the course it is currently set to. The Myanmar government must face up to its responsibilities, obligations and duties,’ she added.
Lee’s mandate finishes this year. She took up her mandate in 2014, when Myanmar’s burgeoning democratic transition, promising reforms and encouraging progress were a source of ‘great optimism.’
She had been barred from entering the country since December 2017.
‘Refugees I spoke to were firm about their deep desire to return home. However, I was informed of the on-going violence, continuing restrictions on movement, forced imposition of National Verification Cards, and people being killed and injured by landmines in northern Rakhine. Conditions remain unsuitable for their return,’ Lee said.
In a sweeping legal victory for members of the Rohingya Muslim minority, the United Nations’ top court on Thursday ordered Myanmar to take all measures in its power to prevent genocide against the Rohingya people.
The court’s president, Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, said the International Court of Justice ‘is of the opinion that the Rohingya in Myanmar remain extremely vulnerable.’
The court added that its order for so-called provisional measures intended to protect the Rohingya was binding ‘and creates international legal obligations’ on Myanmar.
At the end of an hour-long sitting in the court’s wood-panelled Great Hall of Justice, judges also ordered Myanmar to report to them in four months on what measures the country had taken to comply with the order and then to report every six months as the case moves slowly through the world court.
Rights activists immediately welcomed the unanimous decision.
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