International court forms bench to look into request for probing Myanmar's deportation of Rohingya Muslims
A Rohingya group Thursday called for an International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into Myanmar’s crimes against humanity after an ICC prosecutor announced her intent to submit a request to probe deportation of Rohingya Muslims.
The ICC said that it assigned a three-judge panel to hear prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s request to open an investigation into the Rohingyas' deportation from Myanmar.
On the ICC move, Dr. Hla Kyaw, chairman of the European Rohingya Council, told Anadolu Agency that “the ICC has jurisdiction [to probe] this crime as Bangladesh is a member of the ICC” even if Myanmar is a not a member of the global court.
Kyaw's remarks came after Bensouda said that she would seek permission from ICC judges to investigate crimes that had “at least one element” in Bangladesh.
Dubbing the ICC move “a big step” to bring justice to the Rohingya victims of Myanmar’s atrocity, Kyaw criticized the court for slow motion in fulfilling its responsibilities.
“We would like to see the ICC fulfilling its responsibilities as fast as possible so that Myanmar’s generals responsible for the crimes get a message that they will be persecuted,” he said.
If granted, the ICC would become the first international court to look into atrocities against the Rohingya Muslim minority of Buddhist-majority Myanmar.
Kyaw said that Myanmar, in an expected response, has “already rejected the court’s decision”.
“Myanmar military’s lengthy list of the atrocity which happened solely in its territory including genocide and war crimes demands a quick UN Security Council referral to ICC. Only then full justice to victims could be achieved,” the rights defender said.
'No escape' from Myanmar crimes
Nay San Lwin, the coordinator of Free Rohingya Coalition, said that since Myanmar is not a signatory of Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, “we need a referral from the UNSC”.
“But unfortunately, the UNSC has been dead for long time. The UN needs to abolish the veto system which is supporting impunity,” he argued.
“Regardless of UNSC’s referral, the ICC can still go ahead as it is clear that about 750,000 Rohingyas were forcibly deported to Bangladesh, a signatory of ICC,” he added.
“Myanmar can’t escape for this crime even not a signatory,” he said.
Dr. Maung Zarni, a fellow of the Genocide Documentation Center of Cambodia and a Burmese coordinator of Free Rohingya Coalition, said he believed a “full investigation will take place”.
“[It is] simply because the type, quality and volume of judicially admissible evidence is simply overwhelming for any prosecutor to want to go the whole nine yard, that is to aim to get to a full trial, post-full investigation,” he added.
'All crimes of Myanmar military should be investigated'
Talking to Anadolu Agency, Tun Khin, president of UK-based Burmese Rohingya Organization said that the latest ICC move to open an investigation should "cause them [Myanmar] to sit up and pay attention".
The court decision "would bring us a step closer to ensuring justice for atrocities against the Rohingya and would send a clear message to the Tatmadaw [Miyanmar's military] that they will be held to account," he added.
"But the investigation would only look into some of the crimes committed against the Rohingya, and wouldn’t examine military atrocities against ethnic groups in other parts of the country... All of the Tatmadaw’s many crimes should be investigated and those responsible – including those with command responsibility – be held to account."
"It doesn’t appear that the military’s long list of other crimes -- genocide, murder, rape and sexual violence, enforced disappearance -- would be included, which is why a full referral is needed," he stressed.
"The arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice, and justice will come to the perpetrators of these appalling crimes," Khin said, adding that the authorities of Buddhist-majority country "think they are above the law".
According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, escaped Myanmar and crossed over into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.
Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).
Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.
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