Rohingya await justice as UN court begins hearing genocide allegations

UN chief accepts independent report on Myanmar, highlighting ‘systemic’ failure surrounding Rohingya crisis

Dhaka, Dec 10 Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh camps were awaiting to get justice as a top UN court is slated to begin a three-day hearing on Tuesday of a lawsuit accusing Myanmar of genocide of the Muslim minority community.

The Gambia, a tiny West African Muslim-majority country, filed the case in November at the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) accusing the Myanmar government of carrying out mass murders, rape and suspected ethnic cleansing operations against the Rohingya in Rakhine state, reports Efe news.

Myanmar’s State Councillor and de-facto ruler Aung San Suu Kyi left for the Hague on Sunday, leading a team to defend her country in the face of the accusations.

“We heard that there is a case going on against our country and Aung San Suu Kyi in a foreign country. We heard that there will be a discussion about us. We hope that we will get justice…,” Abu Tayeb, a leader of the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights, told Efe news.

Mohammad Jubair, another leader of the group, hoped that the trial would help end the torture against the Rohingya who are still in Myanmar and facilitate the return of those living in the Bangladesh refugee camps.

“We are aware of the trial (at the ICJ). But our people are suffering in Myanmar as they have been severely tortured by the military. I hope that the verdict will come for us,” Jubair said.

“If we get justice from the court, then we will go back to our country.”

Nearly 738,000 Rohingya refugees are living in camps in Bangladesh since August 25, 2017, following a wave of persecution and violence in Myanmar that the UN has described as a textbook example of ethnic cleansing and possible genocide.

Two attempts to start the repatriation of the refugees failed as the Rohingya refused to return until they were guaranteed citizenship and security in their homeland.

International pressure mounted on Myanmar after three separate legal processes against the country widened the global opinion about the alleged crimes it committed against the ethnic minority community.

A Rohingya rights organization on November 13 filed a complaint in Argentina over alleged crimes committed against the minority group in Myanmar, which named Suu Kyi directly as an accused.

The development came two days after Gambia took a lawsuit to the ICJ accusing Myanmar of genocide.

The International Criminal Court, also in The Hague, in the same month approved a full investigation into Myanmar military officers’ alleged crimes against the Rohingya.

Myanmar does not use the Rohingya term and also doesn’t recognize them as its citizens, arguing they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.