UN court hearings resume in Rohingya genocide case

A case claiming Myanmar genocide against the Rohingya ethnic minority is back before the United Nations' highest court on Monday.

UN court hearings resume in Rohingya genocide case

There are questions about whether Myanmar's military rulers should be allowed to represent the Southeast Asian country.

The International Court of Justice will hold four days of public hearings Monday on Myanmar's preliminary objections. They were brought by Gambia, an African nation that acts for a group of Muslim countries that accuses Myanmar of genocide during its crackdown against the Rohingya.

As a response to an attack from a Rohingya insurgent, Myanmar's military launched a "clearance campaign" in Rakhine state in Myanmar's west. More than 700,000 Rohingya were forced to flee to Bangladesh by the campaign. There are accusations that security forces carried out mass rapes, killings, and set fire to thousands of homes.

Gambia claims that the campaign was a violation of the Genocide Convention and asks the court to hold the country accountable.

After being convicted of what supporters called trumped-up charges, the figurehead leading Myanmar's legal team was in prison.

Opponents to Myanmar's military rulers claim they have appointed two members of the legal team of the U.N. highest court, who are subject to international sanctions.

Critics of military rulers claim that the National Unity Government, a shadow civilian government, should represent the country at hearings in The Hague. U.N. says the group has appointed an "acting alternative agent". Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tu, claims it has appointed an "acting alternate agent," U.N.

"This is a shameful double whammy. "This is a shameful double-whammy. Myanmar is represented at the ICJ, by people who have been sanctioned for gross violations of human rights and the rule of law," stated Chris Gunness (director of the Myanmar Accountability Project). "But, in any case, this illegal military junta shouldn't be representing Myanmar. It should be the NUG."

A request for comment from the court regarding Myanmar's representation at hearings was not received by them.

"What is really important is that... If it is the Juda that is in court, this should not be taken to confer legitimacy upon the junta," stated Akila Radhakrishnan (president of the Global Justice Center).

At the end of 2019, Gambia's lawyers showed maps, satellite images, and graphic photos to show judges details about a campaign for murder, rape, and destruction by Myanmar's military.

The court ordered Myanmar to stop genocide against Rohingya. The court issued an interim ruling to protect the minority until The Hague decides the case, which is likely to take many years.

The military has taken control of the country since that ruling.

The takeover provoked widespread peaceful protests and civil disobedience, which security forces suppressed using lethal force. According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, approximately 1,500 civilians were killed.

The U.N. Security Council demanded an immediate halt in violence in Myanmar earlier this month and reiterated its support for democratic transition and democratic institutions.

U.N.'s top-ranking body reiterated its demand for Suu Kyi's release, including a call for "all those remaining arbitrarily detained," which includes Suu Kyi whose elected government was overthrown by the military on February 1, 2021.

Radhakrishnan stated that the hearings "should be laying the foundation for accountability in Myanmar -- and not just for the Rohingya but for all those who have suffered at hands of the military."

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