12:00 AM, May 31, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:40 AM, May 31, 2018
Rohingya persecution: Lawyers seek ICC probe
Lawyers representing 400 Rohingyas are urging the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the Myanmar military, arguing that the crime will continue and spread to other ethnic groups without getting justice for what has happened to them.
“Without accountability, without focus on bringing these perpetrators to book, then these types of crimes will continue and are continuing in Myanmar as we speak,” reported UK-based Sky News yesterday, quoting human rights lawyer Wayne Jordash as saying. “I have little doubt that they continue because the Myanmar authorities understand that legal options are narrow and bad state actors will shield them from accountability.”
Over 700,000 Rohingyas fled military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine State since late August last year. Doctors Without Borders said at least 6,700 Rohingyas were killed in a month since the crackdown began. Rights groups found evidence of burning and looting Rohingya villages, bulldozing those and raping and abusing women.
UN Security Council has been unable to refer the situation in Myanmar to the ICC due to opposition from veto powers — China and Russia. ICC prosecution on April 9 sought a ruling of The Hague-based court if it has jurisdiction to investigate deportation of the Rohingya from Myanmar to Bangladesh, a possible crime against humanity.
On May 7, the ICC wrote to Bangladesh seeking its written observations on the matter to be submitted by June 11. Bangladesh is yet to respond to it, though the rights activists are urging Bangladesh to submit a strong observation, including evidence of atrocities, to the ICC.
Meanwhile, a group of lawyers representing the Rohingya were scheduled to argue yesterday at the ICC that the court should investigate and possibly prosecute authorities in Myanmar for the crime of forcibly deporting the Rohingya population to Bangladesh, using means of mass murder, sexual violence, and ethnic cleansing, according to the Sky News.