Myanmar rejects ICC decision over Rohingya crisis

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FILE PHOTO: Ten Rohingya Muslim men with their hands bound kneel in Inn Din village September 1, 2017. (REUTERS)
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Smoke is seen on the Myanmar border as Rohingya refugees walk on the shore after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border by boat through the Bay of Bengal, in Shah Porir Dwip, Bangladesh September 11, 2017. (REUTERS)
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In this file photo taken on September 30, 2017 a Bangladeshi man helps Rohingya Muslim refugees to disembark from a boat on the Bangladeshi shoreline of the Naf river after crossing the border from Myanmar in Teknaf. (AFP)
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In this file photo taken on October 16, 2017 Rohingya refugees walk through a shallow canal after crossing the Naf River as they flee violence in Myanmar to reach Bangladesh in Palongkhali near Ukhia on October 16, 2017. (AFP)
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Reuters journalists pose in the newsroom in Brasilia, Brazil, to show solidarity for Reuters journalists Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, who are imprisoned in Myanmar, September 6, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 08 September 2018
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Myanmar rejects ICC decision over Rohingya crisis

  • The decision opens up the possibility of crimes against Rohingya people being prosecuted at the Hague-based court, even though Myanmar is not a member of the court
  • Investigators working for the UN's top human rights body said that Myanmar military leaders should be prosecuted for genocide against Rohingya Muslims

NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar: Myanmar on Friday “resolutely” rejected a ruling by the International Criminal Court empowering the tribunal to probe alleged crimes against the Rohingya even though the Southeast Asian nation is not a member of it.
In an unprecedented ruling on Thursday the ICC said it had jurisdiction over the crisis because of the cross-border nature of the alleged “deportations” of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh.
But in a stinging response Myanmar’s government said the decision was “of dubious legal merit,” according to a statement released by the president’s office late Friday, adding the country was “under no obligation” to respect the court ruling.
“The decision was the result of manifest bad faith, procedural irregularities and general lack of transparency,” the statement said, adding the country “resolutely rejects” the court ruling.
Myanmar has come under intense global pressure in recent weeks over its crackdown on the Rohingya, a group it denies citizenship to.
The ICC upped the ante on Thursday ruling that it had the power to investigate the forced deportations, even though Myanmar has not signed the statute underpinning the tribunal.
Bangladesh is a signatory, however, and the judges said that the deportation of the Rohingya amounted to a cross-border crime, thereby giving the court the right to pursue the issue further.
Its ruling means that the ICC’s chief prosecutor can now open a preliminary investigation that could lead to a wider probe and eventually a trial.
Last week a damning UN report called for military chief Min Aung Hlaing and other top generals to be prosecuted for “genocide,” which was swiftly followed by Facebook pulling down the profile pages of several military top brass.
Besieged by criticism from the outside, Myanmar has denied abuses but has barred journalists and diplomats from independently visiting Rakhine state — the epicenter of the crackdown — except on short, military-chaperoned trips.
The ICC ruling followed international outrage triggered by the sentencing of two Reuters journalists — both Myanmar nationals — on Monday to seven years in jail under a draconian state secrets act.
Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, had been investigating the extrajudicial killing of Rohingya villagers when they were arrested in December last year.
Rights groups decried the case as a sham trial in a country where press freedom is shrinking.


UK warns dual nationals over travel to Iran, as France holds on envoy nomination

Updated 19 September 2018
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UK warns dual nationals over travel to Iran, as France holds on envoy nomination

  • Britain is seeking the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation who was arrested in April 2016
  • France will not name a new ambassador to Tehran before getting information from Iran following a foiled plot to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in Paris in June

LONDON: Britain on Wednesday advised British-Iranian dual nationals against all but essential travel to Iran, tightening up its existing travel advice and warning it has only limited powers to support them if detained.

The advisory came in tandem with France’s decision to hold off on appointing a new ambassador to Iran, as it seeks clarification over an attempt to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in Paris in June

“The Foreign Secretary (Jeremy Hunt) has taken the decision to advise against all but essential travel by UK-Iranian dual nationals to Iran,” a foreign office spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.
“British citizens who also hold Iranian nationality face risks if they travel to Iran, as we have seen all too sadly in a number of cases. The Iranian government does not recognize dual nationality, so if a dual national is detained our ability to provide support is extremely limited.”
Earlier this month Britain’s Middle East minister Alistair Burt used a visit to Iran to discuss cases of detained dual nationals, alongside other diplomatic issues.
Britain is seeking the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation who was arrested in April 2016 at a Tehran airport as she headed back to Britain with her daughter, now aged four, after a family visit.
She was convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran’s clerical establishment, a charge denied by her family and the Foundation, a charity organization that is independent of Thomson Reuters and operates independently of Reuters News.
Meanwhile, France will not name a new ambassador to Tehran before getting information from Iran following a foiled plot to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in Paris last June, French officials said on Wednesday.
An Iranian diplomat based in Austria and three other people were arrested on suspicion of plotting the attack on a meeting of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
Iran has said it had nothing to do with the plot, which it called a “false flag” operation staged by figures within the opposition group itself.
The incident has hit relations just as France and its European partners are seeking to salvage a 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers.
France’s ambassador to Iran departed in the summer. Iran has also yet to replace its departed ambassador to Paris.
“We have a charge d’affaires today in Tehran and there is a high-level dialogue between French and Iranian authorities,” said a French presidential source.
“We are working together to bring to light what happened around this event ... I wouldn’t say there is a direct link (in not appointing an ambassador), but Iran has promised to give us objective facts in the coming weeks that would allow us to pursue our diplomatic relationship as it is today.”
A French diplomatic source said the nomination had indeed been suspended as a result of the alleged plot.
France’s Foreign Ministry in August told its diplomats and officials to postpone non-essential travel to Iran indefinitely, citing the plot and a hardening of Tehran’s attitude toward France, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters.
President Emmanuel Macron is likely to discuss the issue with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani when they meet on Sept. 25 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, the source said.
Along with Britain and Germany, France is trying save a 2015 agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, which was thrown into disarray when US President Donald Trump pulled out of the accord in May and re-imposed economic sanctions on Iran.
Even so, tensions between Paris and Tehran have grown in recent months as Macron and his government have become increasingly frustrated with Iran’s activities in the Middle East region, in particular its ballistic missile program.