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Myanmar govt rejects ICJ ruling on Rohingya issue

By Mir Afroz Zaman
Dhaka, Jan 25 (UNI) Myanmar has put in place measures to protect Rohingya Muslims, a spokesman for the ruling party said on Friday, shrugging off an order from the International Court of Justice a day earlier to stop genocidal acts against the ethnic minority.
The Hague-based court ordered Myanmar to protect the persecuted Rohingya against further atrocities and preserve evidence of alleged crimes, after mostly Muslim Gambia launched a lawsuit in November accusing Myanmar of genocide.
The government is already doing most of the orders, Myo Nyunt, a spokesman for the ruling National League for Democracy, told UNI by phone, without elaborating. One more thing we need to do is submit reports, he said, referring to one of several measures
approved by the court requiring Myanmar to write regular summaries of its progress.
But he said the civilian government, who rule jointly with the military in an awkward
constitutional arrangement that reserves great powers for the commander-in-chief, could
not control troops.
Under the current political circumstances, we have difficulties solving some issues - such
as the (order) that the government must ensure its military or armed insurgents do not
commit genocide or attempt to commit genocide against Rohingya or Bengali, he said.
More than 730,000 Rohingya fled western Rakhine state for neighbouring Bangladesh in
2017 to escape a military-led crackdown that the UN has said was executed with
genocidal intent. Myanmar says the military campaign was a legitimate counter-
insurgency operation launched in response to militant attacks on security forces.
Some 600,000 Rohingya remain inside Myanmar, confined in apartheid-like conditions to
camps and villages, unable to freely access healthcare and education.
They are derided as "Bengalis", implying they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh,
despite tracing their history in Rakhine back centuries.
The court said in its judgment on Thursday it did not accept Myanmar’s assertion that it
has been taking steps to facilitate the return of refugees, promote peace in Rakhine, and
hold the military accountable through domestic mechanisms.
In particular, the Court notes that Myanmar has not presented to the Court concrete
measures aimed specifically at recognizing and ensuring the right of the Rohingya to
exist as a protected group under the Genocide Convention, it said.
There was No Genocide
While Thursday's ruling was an emotional victory for the minority, who have for decades
fought to prove their existence as an ethnic group, legal analysts said it will be difficult to
force Myanmar to comply.
In a statement late Thursday, the ministry of foreign affairs said it had noted the ruling
but did not mention specific steps it was taking. The next morning the front page of state-
run newspaper the Global New Light of Myanmar read: Myanmar takes note of ICJ
decision. There was no genocide in Rakhine.While the measures are legally binding,
there is no enforcement mechanism.
In separate statements on Friday, Britain and Malaysia urged Myanmar to fully
implement the measures. UN human rights spokeswoman Liz Throssell told a UN
briefing in Geneva the office calls on Myanmar to immediately and unconditionally
implement them in full.
We know that there are limitations but it’s very important for the Rohingya community in
Bangladesh and in Myanmar to know that the world has heard them, the highest court in
the land has made this decision, said human rights lawyer Antonia Mulvey.
Kobsak Chutikul, a Thai diplomat who in 2018 quit a government-appointed panel set up
to probe the alleged atrocities, said he feared the government would delay and obfuscate
once the spotlight faded.
Of dozens of people interviewed by Journalists in Yangon, Myanmar's commercial
capital, only two were aware of the judgment, and neither of them paid much heed.
I already knew that Myanmar would lose this case since the other side is funded by the
Islamic countries, said a civil servant, who also asked not to be named.
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