FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The International Court of Justice and the Rohingyas

The International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) Order to the Government of the Republic of Myanmar to adopt various provisional measures to protect the Rohingya community from “physical destruction” and to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of Article 11 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide including killing members of the group and imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group” is a decision of tremendous significance. The Order also urges the Myanmar military as well as any regular armed units which may be directed or supported by (the military) and any organisation or person which may be subject to its control, direction or influence not to commit genocide or be complicit in acts of genocide. The Government of Myanmar is also required in the Order to submit a report to the ICJ on all measures intended to give effect to the Order within four months as from the date of the Order and thereafter every six months until a final decision on the case is rendered by the Court.

Needless to say, the Government of Myanmar has rejected the ICJ’s Order. It denies that there has been any genocide against the Rohingyas. However, reports from independent human rights observers and from Rohingyas themselves — many of them refugees living in other countries — tell a different story. It is this evidence adduced by the government of the Gambia especially its Justice Minister, Abubacarr Tambadou, which convinced the ICJ panel that the allegations of genocide against the Myanmar Government had a basis.

The world should now use the ICJ’s stand to mount a massive global campaign on behalf of the oppressed and discriminated Rohingya. It should in fact go beyond the ICJ’s Order and address the root cause of the suffering of the Rohingya people. Stripping them of their Myanmar citizenship in 1982 is what is largely responsible for their oppression and marginalisation. This is why the world in endorsing the ICJ’s decision should also plead with the Myanmar government to restore the citizenship of all Rohingyas who qualify for citizenship.

The media both old and new have a critical role to play. It is disappointing that even in their coverage of the ICJ decision most of the media have been somewhat lukewarm. There has been very little support by way of follow-up articles and the like. And yet the ICJ is a mainstream institution with a high degree of credibility.

One hopes the UN General Assembly will also be persuaded to endorse the ICJ decision, reinforced by a call to grant citizenship to the Rohingya people. Perhaps the government of the Gambia should take the lead. It is said that in bringing the Rohingya case to the ICJ, the Gambia was motivated largely by its conscience, specifically the pain and anguish leaders like Tambadou felt when the carnage in Rwanda occurred in the mid nineteen nineties.

As demonstrated by the government of the Gambia, the nine ASEAN governments who share a regional platform with Myanmar should also for once act on the basis of their conscience. They should set aside concerns such as trade and investments, big power politics and geopolitical pressures and focus solely upon the ordeal of a people facing extermination, and act accordingly.

It is not just ASEAN that should respond to the ICJ. What about China? China for geopolitical and geo-economic reasons has become particularly close to the Myanmar government. Can the Chinese leadership rise above these considerations and instead emphasise the vital importance of our common humanity and our human dignity? One can ask the same question of India and of Japan in their relations with the Myanmar government.

Of course, the Myanmar government’s treatment of the Rohingya minority will only change for the better if the majority of the Myanmar people express strongly their disapproval of present policies. They should urge their government to heed the ICJ’s Order. This is not likely to happen in the foreseeable future. It appears that the majority of the populace are attached to a Burman-Buddhist identity that does not really accommodate the non-Burman, non- Buddhist minorities — a notion of identity which the ruling elite with the military at its core espouses. Antagonism towards the Rohingya is part of this notion of identity.

What this means is that if a substantial segment of Myanmar society is going to persuade their government to adhere to the ICJ’s Order, it will be because of external pressure. Hence the importance of accelerating pressure through ASEAN, the big Powers, the UN General Assembly and global public opinion.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
August 14, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Matthew Hoh
Lights! Camera! Kill! Hollywood, the Pentagon and Imperial Ambitions.
Joseph Grosso
Bloody Chicken: Inside the American Poultry Industry During the Time of COVID
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: It Had to be You
H. Bruce Franklin
August 12-22, 1945: Washington Starts the Korean and Vietnam Wars
Pete Dolack
Business as Usual Equals Many Extra Deaths from Global Warming
Paul Street
Whispers in the Asylum (Seven Days in August)
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Predatory Capitalism and the Nuclear Threat in the Age of Trump
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
‘Magical Thinking’ has Always Guided the US Role in Afghanistan
Ramzy Baroud
The Politics of War: What is Israel’s Endgame in Lebanon and Syria?
Ron Jacobs
It’s a Sick Country
Eve Ottenberg
Trump’s Plan: Gut Social Security, Bankrupt the States
Richard C. Gross
Trump’s Fake News
Jonathan Cook
How the Guardian Betrayed Not Only Corbyn But the Last Vestiges of British Democracy
Joseph Natoli
What Trump and the Republican Party Teach Us
Robert Fisk
Can Lebanon be Saved?
Brian Cloughley
Will Biden be Less Belligerent Than Trump?
Kenn Orphan
We Do Not Live in the World of Before
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Compromise & the Status Quo
Andrew Bacevich
Biden Wins, Then What?
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
The Criminology of Global Warming
Michael Welton
Toppled Monuments and the Struggle For Symbolic Space
Prabir Purkayastha
Why 5G is the First Stage of a Tech War Between the U.S. and China
Daniel Beaumont
The Reign of Error
Adrian Treves – John Laundré
Science Does Not Support the Claims About Grizzly Hunting, Lethal Removal
David Rosen
A Moment of Social Crisis: Recalling the 1970s
Maximilian Werner
Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf: Textual Manipulations in Anti-wolf Rhetoric
Pritha Chandra
Online Education and the Struggle over Disposable Time
Robert Koehler
Learning from the Hibakushas
Seth Sandronsky
Teaching in a Pandemic: an Interview With Mercedes K. Schneider
Dean Baker
Financing Drug Development: What the Pandemic Has Taught Us
Greta Anderson
Blaming Mexican Wolves for Livestock Kills
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Meaning of the Battle of Salamis
Mel Gurtov
The World Bank’s Poverty Illusion
Paul Gilk
The Great Question
Rev. Susan K. Williams Smith
Trump Doesn’t Want Law and Order
Martin Cherniack
Neo-conservatism: The Seductive Lure of Lying About History
Nicky Reid
Pick a Cold War, Any Cold War!
George Wuerthner
Zombie Legislation: the Latest Misguided Wildfire Bill
Lee Camp
The Execution of Elephants and Americans
Christopher Brauchli
I Read the News Today, Oh Boy…
Tony McKenna
The Truth About Prince Philip
Louis Proyect
MarxMail 2.0
Sidney Miralao
Get Military Recruiters Out of Our High Schools
Jon Hochschartner
Okra of Time
David Yearsley
Bringing Landscapes to Life: the Music of Johann Christian Bach
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail