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Rule of LawMyanmar

Myanmar genocide case can proceed: UN court

July 22, 2022

The International Court of Justice has thrown out Myanmar's objections to queries over its treatment of the Muslim Rohingya minority. This paves the way for the case to be heard in full, a process that could take years.

In this October 2017 photo, Rohingya Muslims can be seen fleeing from Myanmar to Bangladesh
Judges found that all members of the 1948 Genocide Convention are obliged to act to prevent genocideImage: KM Asad/ZUMAPRESS/picture alliance

Judges at the United Nations' highest court have thrown out preliminary objections by Myanmar to a case alleging the country is responsible for genocide against the Rohingya population.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that a landmark case filed by Gambia, accusing the Southeast Asian country of genocide against the minority Rohingya Muslims, can go ahead.

Judge Joan E. Donoghue, head of the ICJ, said the tribunal "finds that it has jurisdiction... to entertain the application filed by the Republic of the Gambia."

Rohingya widow refugees face poverty, hostile attitudes

The decision paves the way for full hearings at the court regarding allegations against majority-Buddhist Myanmar and the bloody 2017 crackdown on the Rohingya.

Around 1.5 million fled

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled the country during the operation, where they would later share their traumatic experiences of murder, rape and arson with humanitarian groups.

According to UNICEF, by the end of August 2021 neighboring Bangladesh was hosting more than 890,000 Rohingya refugees in the Cox's Bazar district, around half of whom were children.

Another 600,000 Rohingya remain in Myanmar's southwestern Rakhine state.

Former leader Suu Kyi previously refuted genocide accusations

Myanmar was originally represented at the ICJ by former civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi. In December 2019, she testified in defense of her country, refuting the allegations that genocide had taken place.

But the Nobel laureate was ousted from power in a military coup in February 2021 and she is currently in prison in Naypyidaw at the behest of the junta. She was recently transferred to the capital and placed in solitary confinement after previously being under house arrest.

jsi/wd (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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