John Zaw, Mandalay
Updated: September 03, 2020 09:49 AM GMT
Canadian foreign minister Francois-Philippe Champagne announced on Sept. 2 his country’s intention to join The Gambia's genocide case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice. (Photo: AFP)
Canada and the Netherlands have joined to intervene in The Gambia’s lawsuit at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to hold Myanmar accountable for allegations of genocide against Rohingya in Rakhine.
Canadian foreign minister Francois-Philippe Champagne and the Dutch minister of foreign affairs expressed their intention to intervene in the matter of The Gambia versus Myanmar at the ICJ, alleging violations of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
“Canada and the Netherlands consider it our obligation to support these efforts which are of concern to all of humanity,” leaders of the two nations said in a statement on Sept. 2.
It said they will assist with the complex legal issues that are expected to arise and will pay special attention to crimes related to sexual and gender-based violence including rape.
More than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims were forced to flee their homes in Rakhine to neighboring Bangladesh following Myanmar’s military crackdown in August 2017.
To date, not a single Rohingya refugee in Bangladesh has returned to Myanmar through an official repatriation channel.
Six of Myanmar’s most senior army officers have been accused of genocide by a UN fact-finding mission and recommended for criminal prosecution.
Leaders of Canada and the Netherlands reiterated their call to “all states party to the Genocide Convention to support The Gambia in its efforts to address these violations.”
“States party to the Genocide Convention must resolve to prevent genocide but also, critically, to hold perpetrators to account,” the statement said.
Rights groups hailed the move as historic as it will further the cause of justice for Rohingya victims and survivors of the 2017 genocide, and help hold those responsible for war crimes to account.
“Slowly but surely, the net is closing in on Myanmar’s leaders — they will not get away with this genocide,” Tun Khin, president of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK, said in a Sept. 2 statement.
He said in supporting The Gambia’s genocide case against Myanmar, Canada and the Netherlands are “not just standing with Rohingya victims, they are standing on the right side of history.”
“Justice is a core demand of all the Rohingya people, and it is particularly important for those inside the camps of Cox’s Bazar who have been forced to flee their homeland and live as refugees in a foreign state,” he said.
In January, the United Nations’ highest court ordered measures to prevent the genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
The case was brought by The Gambia, a Muslim-majority African state that accused Myanmar of breaching the Genocide Convention.
In her appearance before the ICJ in The Hague last December, State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi described the violence as an “internal armed conflict” triggered by Rohingya militant attacks on government security posts.
Once an international icon representing peaceful defiance of military dictatorship, 74-year-old Suu Kyi has been savagely criticized for defending the military over the Rohingya exodus.
She appealed to ICJ judges to dismiss allegations that Myanmar committed genocide and instead allow the country’s court martial system to deal with any human rights abuses.