Bangkok, Jan 23 (IANS) The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Thursday ordered Myanmar to take provisional measures to protect its Rohingya ethnic minority from acts of genocide.
The judges unanimously pronounced in favour of Gambia, which had accused Myanmar of committing genocidal acts against the Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state and had requested the top United Nations court to enforce provisional measures to ensure that Myanmar complies with the 1948 Genocide Convention signed by the country in 1956, Efe news reported.
Presiding Judge Abdulwaqi Ahmed Yusuf ordered the Myanmar government to “take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of article 2 of the Genocide Convention.”
The court said the mainly Muslim community living in Rakhine state “remain extremely vulnerable.”
Yusuf reminded Myanmar that the provisional measures it must take are legally binding and said the Southeast Asian country must submit a report on the actions it intends to take in compliance with the ruling within four months.
Myanmar must submit again, another six months later, showing how it is in compliance with the measures.
A group of several civil society organisations, mostly from ethnic minorities that have suffered years of war in the country’s peripheral areas against a military infamous for its human rights violations, issued a statement on Wednesday supporting the case at the ICJ.
“We understand very clearly that the ICJ case against Myanmar is directed toward those responsible for using political power and military might, and not the people of Myanmar,” read the statement.
The charge of genocide refers to the military operations, carried out in the Rakhine state by the Myanmar army in 2016 and 2017 as a response to armed attacks by rebels belonging to the insurgent group Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), that led to the exodus of some 800,000 Rohingyas to neighbouring Bangladesh.
The Myanmar government has denied entry into the country to a fact-finding mission set up by the UN in the aftermath of the military operations.
The Myanmar military is accused of carrying out a campaign of killings, tortures, burning of houses, and rapes in 2018 with “genocidal intent”.
On its part, the Myanmar legal team, headed by the de facto leader of the country, Aung San Suu Kyi, denied the allegations of genocide, and asserted that the counter-insurgency operations were just part of an internal conflict triggered by ARSA.
The Myanmar military on Thursday issued a statement asserting that “it will not only give full consideration to the recommendations relating to the armed forces in the report of the ICOE but the office of the Judge Advocate General will study the report in detail as well.”