By Promod Puri
Hats off to the Republic of The Gambia, one of the world’s smallest countries in West Africa, who launched proceedings against Myanmar before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for the latter’s crimes and genocide of its Muslim population.
Most influential nations in the world who champion the cause of human rights, including Canada, have never thought of going to the ICJ to seek justice for the Myanmar Muslims. The Gambia government must be applauded for this initiative.
The Gambia brought the case against the Myanmar government led by Noble Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. She is defending her country before the International Court in The Hague, where three-day proceedings began December 10.
The Gambia is asking the court to order Myanmar to bar ongoing atrocities against the Rohingya Muslims, averting further irreparable harm.
The case focuses on the clearance operations carried out since October 2016 by Myanmar’s military rulers against the Rohingya Muslims. It is a distinct ethnic and religious community group that resides primarily in the Rakhine state.
These operations amounted to a genocidal campaign of violence that included mass murder, forcible displacement, rape, and other forms of sexual abuse. UN investigators say as many as 10,000 Rohingya – a Muslim minority in this Buddhist-majority nation – were killed. Over 742,000 Rohingyas have fled Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh since 2017, joining 300,000 Rohingya who had previously fled oppression in Myanmar. They are living in dire conditions in the refugee camps.
In defending her government and the military junta, Peace Nobelist Aung San Suu Kyi told the court the case against Myanmar is “incomplete and incorrect.” And that it is an “internal armed conflict.”
Ms. Suu Kyi was once an international celebrity who was an icon for the cause of democracy. Now she is a de facto ruler of Myanmar serving her military bosses who kept her under house arrest for many years.
Ms. Suu Kyi was bestowed with honorary Canadian citizenship in October 2007 for being a champion of democracy for her nation. But considering her total denial of military violence against the Rohingya Muslims, she was stripped of her honorary Canadian citizenship in October 2018.