‘Myanmar brought it upon itself’ | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 23, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:13 AM, November 23, 2019

‘Myanmar brought it upon itself’

Says rights defender on legal steps against his country at int’l conference on genocide

A human rights defender from Myanmar yesterday said recent legal steps against his country with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Court (ICC) over Rohingya issue were something the country’s regime “brought upon itself”.

This issue is regarded “very sensitive” in Myanmar, said Khin Zaw Win, also the director of Tampadipa Institute in Yangon.

“Don’t touch it, it’s not your problem” -- this is how Rohingya issue is being treated in Myanmar, he said. “But it is,” Khin told an international conference on Bangladesh’s genocide at Bangla Academy.

“People in Myanmar are forgetful. Not only the Rohingya but other ethnic and religious minorities are also suffering since the country’s independence in 1948,” said Khin, who was a political prisoner there.

“So, we tackle it now or otherwise it will be like a chronic ailment that will never end,” the activist added.

Gambia, on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, recently filed a case at the ICJ, accusing Myanmar of genocide in its treatment of the Rohingyas.

The ICC has taken a move recently to probe the alleged acts of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity committed by the Myanmar military on Rohingyas.

Khin said the Myanmar regime should cooperate in investigation “as much as it can” but feared that it would not allow international fact-finding missions to even enter the country.

They are likely to visit refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar and get evidence there, he said.

Khin said how well or how badly the regime handles the situation will eventually become “a challenge for the future generation”. He said Bangladesh and Myanmar had no major issues between them, but now they are “linked by a crisis”.

He demanded justice for the Rohingyas.

“1971: Genocide-Torture Archive and Museum” organised the conference, marking Bangladesh’s Liberation War and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s birth centenary, to be celebrated next year.

Over 30 scholars, researchers and authors from seven countries took part in seven different sessions including six working sessions yesterday, said organisers. The event will conclude this morning.

Chairing yesterday’s morning session, war crimes researcher Shahriar Kabir hoped more voices supporting Rohingyas like Khin could be heard from within Myanmar. “There are people but their voices are not being heard,” he added.

He urged the organisers to adopt a resolution on how to address the Rohingya issue.

There is no sign of repatriation of the Rohingya refugees to Myanmar though both the Bangladesh and Myanmar governments signed an MoU, he said, demanding immediate repatriation of the displaced Myanmar nationals.

Earlier addressing the inaugural ceremony, Indian author and journalist Hiranmay Karlekar said besides trying war criminals, it is equally important to recall and remember the memories of the country’s Liberation War.

“Because, many of the present generation do not know about it,” he added.

Addressing as chief guest, State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid thanked the organisers for arranging the conference and assured them of providing assistance in arranging similar events in future. 

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