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EU puts pressure on Myanmar over ICJ ruling

Bloc calls on the country to make progress towards a society where the rights of everyone are fully protected

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EU puts pressure on Myanmar over ICJ ruling

Rohingya Muslims wait in a makeshift camp in Myanmar's Rakhine state in November 2017 before finding a way to cross over into Bangladesh following a bloody military crackdown that forced 740,000 Rohingya to flee. (Photo: Phyo Hein Kyaw/AFP)

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The European Union has called on Myanmar to comply with the provisional measures ordered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to prevent all acts of genocide against Rohingya.

“We expect the government of Myanmar to fully comply with the ICJ order in the interests of justice,” the EU said in a Jan. 27 statement.

“The EU stands ready to support the government of Myanmar in its efforts to address the root causes of the multifaceted conflict in Rakhine, to implement in a comprehensive manner the recommendations of the Rakhine Advisory Commission and to achieve peace within Myanmar’s borders.”

The EU welcomed the important first steps towards acknowledging the severity and scale of the violence that occurred, the gross violations of human rights and the disproportionate use of force by Myanmar’s military and security forces.

“We hope that Myanmar will use these opportunities to make further progress on its democratic transition towards a society where the rights of everyone are fully recognized and protected,” it added.

The 28-member EU urged the Myanmar government to conduct “adequate follow-up investigations in line with international standards” of the abuses in Rakhine reported by the Independent Commission of Enquiry.

“Credible action must be taken to bring to justice those responsible for these serious violations, especially by Myanmar’s security forces,” it said.

The EU did not use the term “Rohingya” in the statement.

A commission led by Philippine diplomat Rosario Manalo said that war crimes and serious human rights violations were committed by Myanmar’s security forces but it found no genocidal intent against Rohingya during clearance operations in Rakhine in 2017.

Its report mentioned three mass killings committed during the crackdown following attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) on security posts.

Military operations from August 2017 forced about 740,000 Rohingya to flee over the border into refugee camps in Bangladesh.

Myanmar has always maintained the crackdown was needed to root out Rohingya rebels after a series of attacks left a dozen security personnel dead.

Catholic aid agency hails UN court’s decision

England’s main Catholic humanitarian agency has welcomed the ICJ’s ruling and said it sends a clear message to Myanmar and the rest of the world.

“While the threat of violence and further killings still exists, Rohingya refugees who have fled to Bangladesh cannot be forced to return to Myanmar,” said Janet Symes, head of the Asia and Middle East region for CAFOD, the international development aid agency of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

She said that more than 700,000 women, men and children do not have the necessary guarantees of their safety, rights and means to earn a living to be able to return to their homes despite their longing to do so.

“When I visited the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, almost everybody I spoke to was desperate to go home. But they didn’t feel it would be safe for them to return and the decision of the ICJ has confirmed this,” Symes said.

“Our hope is that the Myanmar government heeds the ruling of the ICJ and takes urgent steps to prevent violence against the Rohingya people.”

CAFOD has been working with Caritas Bangladesh to help Rohingya refugees who are concentrated in Cox’s Bazar.

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