Saturday December 03, 2022

Rohingya verdict

By Editorial Board
January 26, 2020

The International Court of Justice is the UN’s highest court; it has delivered a damning verdict against the Myanmar government led by Aung San Suu Kyi. The court has ordered that the Myanmar government must take all measures to put an immediate end to the genocide of Rohingya Muslims in the country. This is the first time that international justice has taken its course in the Rohingya crisis and with a unanimous ruling rejected Myanmar’s arguments. We may recall that in December 2019 the world was disillusioned and dismayed at the arguments made by Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s first civilian leader in decades, who glossed over the gravity and severity of the crimes committed by the army of Myanmar.

What is even more disappointing is that after the verdict, Myanmar responded defiantly to the ruling. The country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs rather than taking the verdict with a positive spirit and showing some respect to the court, has retorted that the court had presented a distorted picture of the situation. It is noteworthy that thousands of Rohingya have been killed and around a million have fled to Bangladesh and other countries during and after an army crackdown in 2017. The ICJ’s decision is not subject to appeal. But unfortunately, even if the verdict is binding, the ICJ has no way of enforcing it. The credit for this verdict goes entirely to the case The Gambia lodged. The Gambia may be a peripheral Muslim majority country on the outskirts of Africa, but it has done a good job by bringing this genocide to the world’s attention.

Now if the court verdict is not implemented in letter and spirit, which is highly likely, the ruling has warned that genocidal actions could recur. The army, the government, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Myanmar have been on the same page of denial all along. They project their own commission as an independent body that has enquired into the matter and found no genocide. This is a mockery of human rights and justice. At the same time, Myanmar conceded that some war crimes have been committed that were being investigated. Myanmar has consistently defied the ICJ and says that the cases will be prosecuted by Myanmar’s national criminal system. It is a sad fact that most state machineries in countries where democratic principal are flouted and the military has an upper hand end up violating human rights and target all those who fight against such violations.