Investigations to begin against Myanmar

Raheed Ejaz . Dhaka | Update:

Rohingya children walk around a landslide area at Balukhali refugee camp in Ukhia on 7 July 2019. Photo: AFP

The investigating team of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has found logical reason to believe that the Rohingyas were forced to flee from Rakhine in the face of genocide and crimes against humanity.

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda last week asked permission of the court to begin investigations in this regard. ICC is to begin working at a field level in Bangladesh to carry out investigations and legal procedures.

Diplomatic sources in Dhaka and The Hague told Prothom Alo last week that the ICC prosecutor’s office has taken the decision to commence with work in Bangladesh regarding investigations into Myanmar’s crimes against humanity.

A delegation led by ICC’s deputy prosecutor James Stewart will arrive in Bangladesh on 16 July to discuss relevant matters with officials in Dhaka.

Basically, ICC is going a step ahead towards taking action against the accused army generals in Myanmar for the genocide and crimes against humanity against the Rohingyas.

Having obtained proof in their initial findings of brutal crimes against the Rohingyas, the ICC prosecutor’s office will now have the scope to submit recommendations for arrest warrants and summons against the accused army officers.

Based on these recommendations, the judges will be able to consider punitive actions against the accused.

On 18 September 2018, a fact finding mission of the UN published a report on the oppression of the Rohingyas. The report recommended that six generals including the Myanmar army chief Min Aung Hlain be put on trial at the ICC.

Incidentally, though Bangladesh signed the Rome Declaration, Myanmar did not. Not being a party to this declaration, Myanmar refused ICC to carry out any form of inspection to look into whether the Rohingyas were driven out by genocide and crimes of humanity.

ICC prosecutor in the pre-trial hearing said that the Rohingyas had fled for their lives into Bangladesh. As this minority community had taken shelter in Bangladesh and as Bangladesh was a party to the Rome declaration, it was within ICC jurisdiction to carry out investigations.

Speaking over mobile phone to Prothom Alo about the ICC delegation to visit Bangladesh, the foreign minister AK Abdul Momen said on Friday, the ICC delegation will collect information on the oppression of the Rohingyas. Bangladesh will extend all possible assistance. They would also speak to the oppressed Rohingyas to draw up their report.

Security analyst and president of Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Strategic Studies (BIPSS) ANM Muniruzzaman Saturday told Prothom Alo, there has been large scale genocide in Myanmar. There must be accountability and it must be seen whether there is proper documentation under the international law.

It is also important to have the support of the big powers. If anyone is to be found guilty and punished by the court, the support of the big powers will be required. It will be difficult to implement the court verdict without the support of these powers, he said.

Visit of the ICC delegation

An MoU is to be signed between the two sides during the ICC delegation’s stay in Bangladesh. The MoU will cover ICC’s activities, setting up an office in Bangladesh, diplomatic facilities for the ICC representatives, and so on.

Former foreign secretary Mohammed Touhid Hossain on Friday told Prothom Alo, “From the outset I have been saying that the Rohingya problem will not be resolved bilaterally. Bangladesh must focus on the alternatives. If we take steps in the interests of our country, it does not matter what others may think. Whether ICC’s measures are effective or not, we must support this. At least Myanmar will be kept under pressure.”


*This report, published in the print edition of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten in English by Ayesha Kabir

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