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Atrocities against Rohingyas: Hearings on genocide case against Myanmar begin on Tuesday

  • Published at 11:11 pm December 9th, 2019
File photo of Rohingya women and children in a camp in Cox Bazar Mahmud Hossain Opu/ Dhaka Tribune

The hearings will take place in The Hague over three days

The eyes of the Rohingya community across the world – along with its friends and foes – will be on the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, as on Tuesday it starts hearing the arguments in connection with the genocide case filed by The Gambia against Myanmar.

The three-day hearing will start at 10am local time – 3pm in Bangladesh – at the ICJ in The Hague, the capital of The Netherlands.

Abubacarr Tambadou, attorney general and justice minister of The Gambia, who filed the case, will lead his country in the hearing.

Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s state counsellor and its de facto president, will lead her country to defend Naypyidaw in the capacity of the foreign minister.

File Photo: Rohingya men and women migrating to different camps in Cox Bazar | Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

On November 11, The Gambian attorney general and justice minister filed the case with the ICJ, alleging violations of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide through “acts adopted, taken and condoned by the government in Naypyidaw of Myanmar.”

The Gambia, who filed the case on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), also asked the ICJ to impose provisional measures, as a matter of extreme urgency, to protect the Rohingyas against further harm by ordering Myanmar to stop all its genocidal conducts immediately.

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The Gambia is the chair of the OIC ad hoc ministerial committee on accountability for human rights violations against the Rohingyas, which was established at the 45th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the OIC, held in Dhaka on May 5-6, 2018. 

Following the filing of the case, the ICJ decided on November 18 to hold three-day hearings on December 10-12.

The Gambia will deliver the first round of oral observations on Tuesday, the first day of the hearings, from 3pm to 6pm Bangladesh time.

Myanmar will also deliver its first round of arguments on Tuesday. 

File Photo: Around 30,000 of these children are under the age of one and some 61,000 are under two years old | Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

In the second round of oral observations, The Gambia will place arguments from 3pm to 4:30pm, Bangladesh time, on Thursday, while the second round of oral observations by Myanmar will be delivered from from 9:30pm to 11pm on the same day.

The hearings have attracted a lot of attention from across the world, as it is the first meaningful initiative taken to ensure justice for the unprecedented atrocities faced by the Rohingyas in the hands their own security forces and neighbours.

It takes years for this type of cases to reach their ultimate conclusions. But the most important aspect of this particular case is that the plaintiff has asked the court to impose provisional measures.

It will be groundbreaking if the top court of the world, whose decisions are binding on all the member states of the UN, agree to do so after hearing both countries, who are signatories of the genocide convention.

Bangladesh, who is hosting more than one million Rohingyas, has no role to play in the hearings. But in order to watch the proceedings, a Bangladesh delegation headed by Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque is due to be in the courtroom.

“This time round, we have nothing to do in regard to the case. In the future, we may,” the foreign secretary told Dhaka Tribune.

Responding to a question, he said Bangladesh would extend all-out cooperation regarding the case, should it be asked by the court.

Bangladesh and some other countries will support The Gambia in fighting the case as there is no scope for any other country to be officially involved, the foreign secretary further said.

The Bangladesh delegation will also interact with representatives from various countries, who are expected to be in the Dutch capital on this occasion, so that the world remains aware of the brutalities the Rohingyas faced, and that ensuring justice is very important to stop a repeat of such atrocities anywhere in the world, he added.

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