Sunday 14 July 2019


Source ISI, 11 July

(thanking the Dutch parliament for requesting the Dutch Government to explore legal proceedings against Myanmar before the International Court of Justice)

ISI commends the parliament of the Netherlands for requesting the government to explore possible legal proceedings against Myanmar before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), for acting in contravention of its obligations under the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The Motion passed on 4 July with the support of a cross-party parliamentary majority, requests the government to investigate whether there is a realistic possibility that such a case could be brought before the ICJ by a sufficient and diverse number of likeminded countries.

Many Rohingya activists, who represent the victims of the genocide and other gross and systematic violations of human rights, also applaud this development. Rohingya delegates at the recently concluded World Conference on Statelessness as well as a number of other members of the Rohingya community - Abdul Hamid (United Stateless); Anwar Arkani (Rohingya Association Canada); Habib (Australian Burmese Rohingya Organisation); Hafsar Tameesuddin; Khin Maung (Free Rohingya Coalition – based in Bangladesh); Muhammed Saifullah (Canadian Rohingya Development Initiative); Nay San Lwin (Free Rohingya Coalition – Based in Germany); Nurul Islam (Arakan Rohingya National Organisation); Raiss Tinmaung, Yasmin Ullah and Zainab Arkhani (Rohingya Human Rights Network Canada); Razia Sultana (Rohingya Women Welfare Society); Sujauddin Karimuddin (Elom Empowerment); and Tun Khin (Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK) – shared the following message in this regard:

As members of the Rohingya community who have over many decades suffered persecution, displacement, statelessness and genocide; we thank the Dutch parliament for requesting the Dutch Government to explore legal proceedings against Myanmar before the International Court of Justice. As the victims of these crimes, our demand is for justice and accountability, and the right to return to our country to live in security and dignity, as equal citizens. The international community must hear our voices and do everything in its power to uphold international law and bring the perpetrators to justice. Please include us in these processes, which are ultimately about us. We are available to be consulted and to share our perspectives, experiences and solutions with you.

Myanmar's genocide of the Rohingya and the crimes against humanity inflicted on the community, have been well documented by UN and non-governmental actors. The scale, degree and severity of atrocities committed against members of the Rohingya community since August 2017, as well as the systemic violence and atrocities committed against them in the decades prior to this, are a blight on our collective human conscience.

The Genocide Convention, ratified in the wake of the holocaust, recognises in its preamble that "in order to liberate mankind from such an odious scourge, international co-operation is required". The Convention further articulates the commitment of all contracting parties to prevent and punish genocide, which is a crime under international law (Article 1); and stipulates that disputes between contracting parties "relating to the interpretation, application or fulfilment" of the Convention, including those relating to the "responsibility of a State for genocide", shall be submitted to the International Court of Justice (Article 9).

It is evident, therefore, that State Parties to the Genocide Convention have a legal and moral duty to hold Myanmar to account for the genocide perpetrated against the Rohingya, along with other associated violations of the Convention, and to bring the matter to the ICJ.

As victims of persecution and genocide, the responsibility to protect the Rohingya, secure justice on their behalf and uphold the rules-based international order lies with the international community. Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and the global Rohingya community have repeatedly asserted their demand for justice and accountability, the right to return with dignity and the right to nationality of Myanmar. All these demands are interconnected; one cannot be achieved without the other. Holding Myanmar to account before the ICJ is integral to the demand for justice and accountability. This is also a necessary precursor to asserting their right to return with dignity. Further, unless their right to Myanmar nationality is asserted, the Rohingya will remain vulnerable to further exclusion and persecution in future as well.

The statelessness of the Rohingya has been a key element in their decades-long persecution in Myanmar, in their lack of protection as refugees outside Myanmar, and, ultimately, in the Rohingya genocide. Research and evidence collected over decades, indicates that the imposed statelessness on the Rohingya, and consequent serious restrictions on a range of fundamental human rights including their freedom of movement, right to work, access to education, right to marry and have children, was part of a wider strategy aimed at "

The Institute is encouraged by these developments in the Netherlands as well as parallel initiatives in Canada, the Gambia and elsewhere. The perpetration of the crime of genocide demands strong, unified and decisive action by responsible members of the international community. However, it is of paramount importance that such initiatives are followed through with. We urge the Dutch government to respond positively and decisively to the parliamentary motion, recognising that to fail to act is to fail to protect the most vulnerable people in the world. In this regard, we urge the Netherlands and other States to also continue to explore other ways in which pressure can be brought upon Myanmar, in the pursuit of justice, accountability and a durable solution. This includes further scrutiny of the business dealings of companies controlled by the Myanmar military and steps to ensure that these companies do not in any way benefit from the investment or partnership of the global business community.

You can download the full statement here

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