Rohingya, Bangladesh welcome ICJ’s genocide prevention ruling

In August 2017, Myanmar’s military launched what it called a clearance campaign in northern Rakhine State in response to an attack by a Rohingya insurgent group. (File/AFP)
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Updated 23 January 2020

Rohingya, Bangladesh welcome ICJ’s genocide prevention ruling

  • World court sets four-month deadline for Myanmar to comply with verdict

DHAKA: Bangladesh and members of the Rohingya community on Thursday welcomed a ruling from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordering Myanmar to prevent a genocide against the Muslim minority group.

Bangladesh hosts more than 1.15 million Rohingya refugees at 34 camps in the city of Cox’s Bazar. Most fled from Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State following a brutal military crackdown.

The ICJ’s judge Abdul Qawi Ahmed Yusuf, said the court believed the Rohingya in Myanmar remained extremely vulnerable and that the country must “take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts” that constitute genocide under the 1948 UN Genocide Convention.

The court also ruled that the Myanmar government should “take effective measures to prevent the destruction and ensure the preservation of evidence related” to the allegations of genocide. The case against Myanmar for violating the convention was filed in November by Gambia, on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Members of the Rohingya community welcomed the verdict. 

“The court order will partially serve our purposes at the moment, and it’s a victory for us,” said Nay San Lwin, co-founder of the Free Rohingya Coalition. 

“Still, we have a long way to go. But, for the first time in the history of our oppression, we got a court order to protect the Rohingyas and it is directed at both the military and Myanmar government. This is a great day for Rohingyas. We thank Gambia for taking this case to the world’s highest court.”

Sayed Ullah, secretary of the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights, praised the decision of the 17-judge panel and said that it was a “big win” for all of the Rohingya in Bangladesh. 

Bangladeshi Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen said the ruling would stop the recurrence of ethnic cleansing and genocide in the world.

“A victory for humanity, a milestone for human rights activists across all nations. A victory for Gambia, OIC, the Rohingya and of course, for Bangladesh,” he added in the statement.

The ICJ set a four-month deadline for Myanmar to comply with the verdict and ordered it to submit reports on progress every six weeks. It would be tough for Myanmar to disregard the court order, said Prof. Amena Mohsin from the University of Dhaka, as the UN Security Council would try to implement the court’s guidelines and apply pressure on Myanmar’s allies China and Russia.

“Myanmar has taken the ICJ proceedings very seriously, otherwise they would not have sent Aung San Suu Kyi to defend the allegations against the country,” she told Arab News. 

“Besides, on Tuesday, a Myanmar commission also admitted that during the military crackdown in August 2017, there might have been some war crimes against the Rohingyas, which is also a significant development.”

Buddhist-majority Myanmar considers the Rohingya to be “Bengalis” from Bangladesh even though their families have lived in the country for generations. Nearly all of them have been denied citizenship for decades, and they are also denied freedom of movement and other basic rights.

Ambassador Touhid Hossain, former foreign secretary of Bangladesh, described the ICJ verdict as a moral victory.

“I expect that Myanmar will comply with the court order and it will submit development reports to the ICJ according to the guidelines,” he told Arab News. 

“But the reality is that for ICJ there is no enforcement mechanism to check the reality on the ground.” 

China, Russia and to some extent India may try to stop Myanmar from making the situation worse so there were no further allegations, he added. 

In Aug. 2017, when the military launched what it called a clearance campaign in Rakhine State in response to an attack by a Rohingya insurgent group, more than 700,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh. There were accusations that security forces committed mass rapes, killings and burned thousands of homes.

Bangladesh has been waiting for a green light from UN inspectors to start the controversial relocation of 100,000 Rohingya refugees to a newly built $275 million island camp.

Although Dhaka says the tiny island of Bhasan Char is ready to begin receiving families, UN technical experts have yet to carry out health and safety checks. 

Bhasan Char is located in the Bay of Bengal and was formed with Himalayan silt in 2006. 

Several international rights organizations have urged Bangladesh not to relocate the Rohingya to the island due to it being in an area prone to cyclones.

One senior diplomat warned that a court verdict was not enough to alleviate the Rohingyas’ suffering. 

“Myanmar’s complying with the court order will not bring the ultimate solution to the Rohingya crisis,” Humayun Kabir told Arab News. 

“Myanmar should have some social and political willingness to repatriate the more than one million Rohingyas who resorted to Bangladesh.”

The court rejected Myanmar’s request to drop the genocide case from its proceedings.

Pakistan seeks extradition of Daesh leader from Afghanistan

Updated 7 min 21 sec ago

Pakistan seeks extradition of Daesh leader from Afghanistan

  • Aslam Farooqi is a Pakistani national wanted in connection with attacks claimed by Daesh in Pakistan
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has asked neighbor Afghanistan to extradite a leader in the local Daesh group affiliate who was arrested in an Afghan intelligence operation in southern Afghanistan earlier this month.
Aslam Farooqi is a Pakistani national wanted in connection with attacks claimed by Daesh in Pakistan. The Afghan government accuses Farooqi of involvement in last month’s attack in the Afghan capital of Kabul on a Sikh house of worship that killed 25 worshipers.
The Daesh group, on its affiliated Amaq website, took credit for the attack saying it was carried out by Indian national Abu Khalid Al-Hindi in revenge for Indian military action in its violence-wracked portion of the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.
A single gunman rampaged through the Gurdwara, a Sikh place of worship, exploding grenades and firing at worshipers.
There was no immediate response from Afghanistan.
In a statement late Thursday, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said the Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan, Atif Mashal, had been summoned and told of Pakistan’s worries about the activities of the Daesh affiliate, known as the Daesh -Khorazan, headquartered in eastern Afghanistan.
“Since Aslam Farooqi was involved in anti-Pakistan activities in Afghanistan, he should be handed-over to Pakistan for further investigations,” the ministry statement said
Farooqi, whose real name is Abdullah Orakzai, was arrested last weekend along with 19 other Daesh operatives, according to Afghanistan’s intelligence agency.
The upstart Daesh affiliate has taken credit for attacks in Pakistan, including one in January in the southwestern Baluchistan provincial capital of Quetta that killed 15 worshipers.
In recent months, Afghan and American officials claim the Daesh has been weakened as a result of relentless US bombing raids in eastern Afghanistan as well as military operations by the Afghan National Security Forces and attacks by their rivals, Taliban insurgents.
In the months leading up to Washington’s peace deal with the Taliban signed in February, US officials said a key component of the agreement was a promise by the Taliban to aid in the fight against Daesh, seen as the greatest threat to US national security emanating from Afghanistan.
Still, the US-Taliban peace deal has had a rocky beginning. Political wrangling in Kabul between President Ashraf Ghani and his rival in last year’s disputed presidential polls, Abdullah Abdullah, has frustrated Washington, which has threatened to withdraw $1 billion in aid if they don’t find a power-sharing deal. Their bickering has delayed the next critical step in the deal, which calls for intra-Afghan negotiations between Kabul leaders, many of whom are linked to warlords and the Taliban.
Delays in completing a prisoner release as laid out in the US-Taliban deal have further frustrated efforts to start the intra-Afghan negotiations.
However, the US and NATO began withdrawing forces and if the Taliban keep their promise to fight terrorism the US will withdraw all its forces over 14 months from the signing of the deal.