JAKARTA, 10 December 2019 - Parliamentarians from across Southeast Asia today welcomed the first hearing in the case against Myanmar at the UN’s highest court as an initial step towards justice and possible recognition of the crime of genocide committed against the Rohingya.
“This marks the start of a monumental effort for justice that could put an end to some of the horrific abuses that the Rohingya are facing,” said Kasit Piromya, former Member of Parliament (MP) of Thailand and ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) Board Member.
Today’s hearing follows The Gambia’s request for the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to order provisional measures as “a matter of extreme urgency” requiring Myanmar to take - among others - measures to prevent ongoing genocidal acts.
“Without accountability for the systematic killings, rape, sexual violence and other atrocities committed against the Rohingya, the cycle of violence against ethnic and religious groups in Myanmar will never end,” said Kasit Piromya.
Backed by 57 member states of the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Gambia filed a case last month at the ICJ against Myanmar for violating provisions of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide to which Myanmar has been a party to since 1956.
The Gambia case follows findings from the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar which recommended Myanmar be brought before the ICJ after it found that Myanmar had committed “genocidal acts” during the 2017 “clearance operations” that killed thousands and caused more than 740,000 Rohingya to flee for their lives to Bangladesh. Approximately one million Rohingya refugees are currently living in the Cox’s Bazar camps in Bangladesh.
“On International Human Rights Day today, we emphasize that ensuring accountability is a critical move, but not the only one that Myanmar must take. We have consistently supported the calls from the Rohingya themselves for the Myanmar authorities to lift all restrictions against them, restore their basic rights, including citizenship rights, and ensure their safety and security so that they can return to their homes and live normal lives,” said Charles Santiago, a Member of Parliament of Malaysia, and APHR Board Chair.
Numerous restrictions, including those on citizenship rights, freedom of movement, and access to education and healthcare, continue to be placed upon the Rohingya in Myanmar. APHR urges Myanmar to take immediate action to guarantee these rights for the Rohingya and again called on the international community to do all in its power to ensure the Rohingya living in Myanmar have their rights restored and that those in Bangladesh are able to return to their homes free from persecution or threats, and with their rights fully restored.
The hearing on provisional measures is being held from December 10-12 in the Hague, Netherlands, at which a delegation from Myanmar is being headed by Aung San Suu Kyi herself.
“It is saddening and still a little bewildering for many of us across this region that a former democracy champion, and someone we spent years defending the rights of, has sought to stall and subvert any genuine efforts to address accusations of serious human rights violations under her government and is now herself defending allegations of genocide at the ICJ,” said Mu Sochua, former Cambodian MP and APHR Board Member.
“As Myanmar’s de-facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi has the duty to promote and protect the rights of all its people, including the Rohingya.”