What verdict waits for Myanmar?
Published: 04:42 PM, 11 December 2019
The Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Tuesday has started hearing on the lawsuit filed by the West African country Gambia against Myanmar for the Rohingyas genocide in the presence of Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. It is reported that after a three-day hearing, the court may issue arrest warrants against unknown persons in Myanmar.
The security of the principal judicial organ ICJ of the United Nations (UN) has been strengthened during the three-day hearing according to a report of Guardian. It is also reported that as part of taking action against Myanmar authorities arrest warrants may be issued against unknown persons though Suu Kyi likely to be exempted as head of the Myanmar government.
Suu Kyi is now at the city of The Hague to protect the national interests of Myanmar. A delegation, led by Secretary of the Foreign Ministry of Bangladesh Masud Bin Momen, is present at the hearing who will assist the plaintiff in case if needed.
Aung San Suu Kyi was seen at the frozen condition while members of the Gambia's advocacy team were discussing brutality of Myanmar's military in the courtroom on the first day of the trial.
At the beginning of the first day's hearing, Gambian Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou said, “we have brought out the allegation to the ICJ to arouse the world conscience on the question of indiscriminate killing of Rohingyas.”
“This is a stain on our collective conscience. It’s not only the state of Myanmar that is on trial here, it’s our collective humanity that is being put on trial,” Mr. Tambadou said.
The statements of the plaintiff were heard on the first day of the hearing (Tuesday), where Myanmar is responding to the allegations today. Then there will be arguments between the two parties on Thursday.
Myanmar have to give much importance on the case filed by the Gambia, a small Muslim state of West Africa, to the ICJ over the allegation of the Rohingya genocide that happened in Myanmar. It should be noted that the Gambia did not sue the case alone rather they sued the trial to the ICJ with the support and on behalf of 57-member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). In addition, the ICJ is an international court established in 1948 under the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, where both Gambia (singing in 1978) and Myanmar (singing in 1956) are signatory states. Therefore, Myanmar is obliged to adhere to its 'terms and conditions'.
The Gambia referred Articles 36 (1) and 40 of the Statutes of the ICJ and the Code of Procedure 41 of the ICJ at the beginning of petition to establish the applicability which established the jurisdiction to prosecute Gambia against Myanmar as a state party.
There are two reasons why this case is significant at the ICJ-
Firstly, the Gambia, another continent African state as well as thousands of miles away from Myanmar, is the plaintiff of the case though not being a neighbor country they just have done it as a signatory to the global charter. The cases that have been filed before to the ICJ on genocide were among neighboring states (Serbia vs Bosnia and Serbia vs Croatia).
Secondly, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who won it for the fight for human rights, politician has appeared in the Peace Palace for the first time in support of genocide. Aung San Suu Kyi, the head of Myanmar's first civilian government in post-military rule after 28 years of winning the Peace Prize in 1991, appears at on the international stage to highlight rationality of the brutality of her country's military.
Suu Kyi has rarely participated in global forums like the United Nations since starting the mass killings of the Rohingya minority in August 2017.
Another powerful aspect of the case is that all the documents of the clearance operation that was Genocide conducted by the Myanmar military in 2016 and 2017 were noted very clearly in the petition of the case. These include: (1) inhuman torture (2) denial of citizenship (3) gross human rights violations (4) propaganda of hatred against the Rohingya (5) set the villages after villages on fire and burnt those, (6) robbery of movable and immovable property, (7) indiscriminate torture of children-women-old, (8) rape and sexual abuse of women in mass number, (9) indiscriminate genocide, and (10) efforts to forcefully eliminate ethnic cleansing.
Whatever the verdict of the trial will be a factual documentary of Myanmar's military genocide has once again appeared in front of the world through the Gambia case.
However, one of the weak points of this case is that almost all the evidence related to the case are the reports of a three-member independent information-seeking committee formed by the UN in 2018. Because The Gambia could not collect any information from the Rakhine State or Bangladesh. Even could not able to appear the Rohingyas, who live in Myanmar or Bangladesh. As a result, when the Myanmar delegates led by Suu Kyi will attend a hearing at the ICJ, it will be a bit difficult for the Gambia to present the first-hand evidence.
It can be answered in a question of how much Myanmar will face the true justice of the crime committed by her military that the biggest weakness of this case is the power and area of the ICJ as well as the limitation of jurisdiction. Because the work of ICJ is mainly two – one is legal dispute resolution between two member states and two is providing advisory feedback on any legal questions. As a result, how much the ICJ can judge Myanmar with such affordability, now it is a matter to see.
However, the interim orders that can be passed in the court can issue any order including Rohingya repatriation, giving citizenship, amending discriminatory laws, ensuring access to human rights workers, ensuring health, education and security.
The court has ordered a detailed investigation into another case of Rohingya genocide that is underway in the International Criminal Court ((ICC) of Hague. In addition, an Argentine court also sued Suu Kyi for the Rohingya massacre.
Meanwhile, when Suu Kyi went to the United Nations the principal judicial organ in support of the Rohingya genocide, 30 organizations from 10 countries called for Myanmar boycott. It is reported that to put pressure on Naypyidaw such steps have been taken ahead of the hearing.
"Boycott Myanmar Campaign" has been launched from a German-based platform called the Free Rohingya Coalitions according to Reuters. According to the organization's statement, 30 organizations have taken initiatives to increase economic, cultural, diplomatic and political pressure against Myanmar in the wake of the hearing on the lawsuit of Rohingya genocide. The organizations like French Dot Co, Restless Bings, Destination Justice, Rohingya Human Rights Network of Canada, Rohingya Human Rights Initiative of India and Asia Center are joined with this.
Ro Nay San Lwin, a Rohingya Muslim, and cofounder of the Free Rohingya Coalition (FRC), said, in reference to the boycott program, “The UN research mission has made clear that a policy has been adopted to eliminate the Rohingya nation in Myanmar. As Rohingya rights activists, we have been protesting for free of Aung San Suu Kyi, who was under house arrest for 15 years under Myanmar's army. However, she took the murderers with herself after being released from the situation. Therefore, we urge everyone to break all institutional and formal relations with Myanmar.”
Seven Nobel peace laureates called on Aung San Suu Kyi to publicly acknowledge crimes, including genocide, committed against the Rohingya in Myanmar. Expressing deep concern over Suu Kyi’s denial over the atrocities occurred against Rohingyas instead of condemning it, seven Nobel Peace laureates said “We call on Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, to publicly acknowledge the crimes, including genocide, committed against the Rohingya. We are deeply concerned that Suu Kyi refuses to condemn this atrocity.”
The bold seven Nobel laureates are-- Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Laureate (2003) – Iran; Leymah Gbowee, (2011) – Liberia; Tawakkol Karman, (2011) – Yemen; Mairead Maguire, (1976) – Northern Ireland; Rigoberta Menchú Tum, (1992) – Guatemala; Jody Williams, (1997) – USA; and Kailash Satyarthi, (2014) – India.
Philippe Gautier, the newly appointed Registrar of the ICJ, said that any judgment of the International Court of Justice regarding the genocide case is final and compulsory. There is no scope of appeal after the final verdict.
The current president of this court is Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf (Somalia) and Vice President is Xue Hanqin (China). Judges are selected by the UN Security Council and the General Assembly.