The International Court of Justice reached a preliminary decision on Thursday as all 17 judges voted to order Myanmar to protect the Rohingya population from genocide.
Myanmar stands accused of committing genocide against the Rohingya people after a brutal military suppression in the northern Rakhine state in 2017. Listed amongst the crimes are mass killings, gang rapes and widespread arson. Over 730,000 Rohingya were forced to flee to Bangladesh. In 2018, the UN claimed that this crackdown was performed with “genocidal intent”.
The judge presiding over the case, Abdulqawi Yusuf, read the judgement which stated Myanmar must “take all measures within its power to prevent all acts” prohibited under the 1948 Genocide Convention, and report back within four months.
Aung Suu Kyi, State Counsellor of Myanmar, lead a delegation to contest the charges of genocide at the Hague however, she has admitted that war crimes may have been committed. In an opinion piece for the Financial Times she maintained that Myanmar’s domestic mechanisms require time and accused witness testimonies of being “inaccurate” or having “exaggerated information”. She also claimed
“Human rights groups have condemned Myanmar based on unproven statements without the due process of a criminal investigation”.
Suu Kyi further stated that;
“The international condemnation has had a negative effect on Myanmar’s endeavours to bring stability and progress to Rakhine”.
Gambi who brought the case to the ICJ instead applauds the decision by the court claiming “triumph of international justice”.
Parampreet Singh, international justice director for Human Rights Watch, stated on the matter;
“The ICJ order to Myanmar to take concrete steps to prevent the genocide of the Rohingya is a landmark step to stop further atrocities against one of the world’s most persecuted people,”
Over 100 Myanmar civil society groups published a statement which expressed their hopes that the international community would continue to “bring forth the truth” and end impunity.
In their statement they say;
“Political and military policies have always been imposed with violent force and intimidation upon the people of Myanmar, systematically and institutionally, on the basis of their political and religious beliefs and ethnic identities and continue until the present”.
Read Aung Suu Kyi's opinion piece here.
Read Reuter's reporting here.