Dhaka Courier

ICJ Ruling: Myanmar can’t proceed with business as usual

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As expected, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) came up with its historic ruling on January 23 and ordered Myanmar to take all measures in its power to prevent genocide against the Rohingya people. Undoubtedly it is a huge victory for all the genocide victims, including Rohingyas.

It is now expected that the international community will mount pressure on Myanmar to comply with the court orders, the provisional measures, to protect the Rohingyas and help find meaningful steps to resolve the Rohingya crisis in a sustainable manner. However, it needs to be noted that it might take years to complete the entire trial.

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 UN 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 ongoing 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 on January 23.

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen termed the order that came from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) a victory for humanity and a milestone for human rights activists across the world.

“It’s a victory for humanity, a milestone for human rights activists across all nations,” said the Foreign Minister adding that this is a victory for The Gambia, OIC, Rohingyas and of course, for Bangladesh. “God bless humanity and also the 'mother of humanity' Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.”

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen said Bangladesh will definitely enhance its engagement with Russia, China, India and Japan and hoped that they will help find a sustainable solution to the Rohingya crisis using their leverage on Myanmar.

He said the full implementation of the ICJ ruling will 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 will 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 will automatically go to the Security Council, and the Security Council will 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, Centre for Genocide Studies, Dhaka University Dr. Imtiaz Ahmed said it is a big victory for Rohingyas and for the entire humanity; and there has 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’, Prof 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.

Prof Imtiaz said it is also important for them to make great efforts to ensure greater participation of Rohingyas, not just for 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 will have to revisit their foreign policy.

Head of Development Assistance, High Commission of Canada Phedra Moon Morris said this is 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 as 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 ongoing 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 while wrapping up her Thailand and Bangladesh.

“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.”

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 has 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 ongoing 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.

The UN top court's president, Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, said the International Court of Justice "is of the opinion that the Rohingya in Myanmar remain extremely vulnerable."

At the end of an hour-long sitting in the court's wood-paneled Great Hall of Justice, judges also ordered Myanmar to report to them in four months on what measures the country has 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.

We hope the world will act genuinely speaking up in support of the Rohingyas. The momentum that we see now must continue to find a sustainable solution to the Rohingya crisis.

  • ICJ Ruling: Myanmar can’t proceed with business as usual
  • AKM Moinuddin

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