War crimes, not genocide | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 25, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:41 PM, January 25, 2020

War crimes, not genocide

Myanmar govt says after ICJ order

Myanmar has rejected Rohingya genocide claims after the World Court on Thursday ordered the country to prevent the genocidal acts in Rakhine State.

In a statement Thursday night, Myanmar Ministry of Foreign Affairs also blamed different human rights bodies, saying they presented a distorted picture of the situation.

It said Myanmar took note of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) decision on provisional measures as requested by The Gambia which lodged the case in November last year accusing Myanmar of genocide against Rohingyas. The hearing was held from December 10-12.

ICJ ordered Myanmar to prevent destruction of evidence of any crimes since August 2017 when some 750,000 Rohingyas fled a brutal military crackdown.

UN independent investigators concluded that the campaign against the Rohingyas had genocidal intent, while the UN termed it a classic case of ethnic cleansing.

The minority community have been denied citizenship and basic rights though they lived there for generations.

The top UN Court at The Hague, Netherlands, also said Myanmar have to submit report on the steps taken to implement the court orders in four months. Afterwards, the country has to submit reports every six months.

Myanmar foreign ministry statement said: “Myanmar has appeared before the court in this case to assist the honourable judges to make the correct factual findings on the proposition made by The Gambia that genocide occurred in Rakhine State in 2016-17.

 “As concluded by the Independent Commission of Enquiry (ICOE) in its recent report, there has been no genocide in Rakhine. The Commission found that war crimes had occurred, and those are now being investigated and prosecuted by Myanmar’s national criminal justice system.”

Blaming the human rights bodies, it said, “The unsubstantiated condemnation of Myanmar by some human rights actors has presented a distorted picture of the situation in Rakhine and affected Myanmar’s bilateral relations with several countries.

“This has hampered Myanmar’s ability to lay the foundation for sustainable development in Rakhine.”

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Myanmar’s ruling party said yesterday Myanmar had put in place measures to protect Rohingya Muslims, shrugging off an order from the ICJ, reports Reuters.

“The government is already doing most of the orders,” Myo Nyunt, a spokesman for the ruling National League for Democracy, told Reuters by phone, without elaborating.

“One more thing we need to do is submit reports,” he said.

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.”

The court said in its judgment on Thursday it did not accept Myanmar’s assertion that it had been taking steps to facilitate the return of refugees, promote peace in Rakhine, and held the military accountable through domestic mechanisms. 

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