Myanmar resorts to fresh strategy ahead of ICJ hearing

Diplomatic Correspondent . Dhaka | Update:

Myanmar state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and army commander-in-chief general Min Aung Hlaing. Photo: Reuters and AFPMyanmar has resorted to a fresh strategy ahead of the hearing of the genocide case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), officials have said.

Foreign ministry officials said the Myanmar government wants to send a high level delegation to the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar before the hearing on the genocide case filed by Gambia starts at ICJ.

Myanmar, in a letter on Thursday, requested the Bangladesh government to facilitate the delegation’s visit.

Diplomats said Myanmar, ahead of the trial, wants to convince the international community that it is sincere about repatriating its Rohingya nationals to the Rakhine state.

Myanmar has misled the international community in the past ahead of any discussions on the Rohingya issue at the UN.

The diplomats said Myanmar has pursued the same strategy this time too. However, the visit of the Myanmar delegation has not been finalised yet.

Foreign ministry officials said the Myanmar authorities alongside the government officials want to send the Independent Commission of Enquiry (ICE) to Bangladesh.

An influential country of the East has repeatedly requested Bangladesh to allow the visit of the commission.

On 11 November 2019, Gambia filed a case against Myanmar on charges of genocide with ICJ at Hague of Netherlands. Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) backed it.

The hearing of the genocide case against Myanmar at ICJ is set to begin between 10 and 12 December. Ahead of the hearing, Myanmar is now eager to send the delegation of government officials to Cox’s Bazar.

A senior official at the foreign ministry said there is no doubt that there is a link to the Myanmar authorities’ move to send the delegation and the hearing at ICJ.

The role of ICE, which was formed by the Myanmar authorities about one and half years ago, has been put to question in the international arena.

The commission has merely visited Rakhine state once to see the situation there. It did not take any initiative to listen to the Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar. Since July 2018, the commission mainly held meetings with Myanmar state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, army commander-in-chief general Min Aung Hlaing and government officials.

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) former chairman Mizanur Rahman said Myanmar repeatedly tried to fool the world resorting to such strategy. It is clear that Myanmar has no intention to solve the Rohingya crisis, he added.

Alleging an attack on a security post on 25 August 2017, Myanmar army unleashed inhuman violence on the Muslim minority in Rakhine state of Myanmar.

At least 700,000 Rohingyas entered Bangladesh within a few months fleeing killing, rape and torture in Myanmar. The United Nations has termed the violence as genocide.

An agreement was signed between two countries in November 2017 to repatriate Rohingyas. As per the agreement, the first phase of repatriation was supposed to be completed by 15 November 2018.

But the repatriation did not happen as the circumstances were not conducive to return to the Rakhine state. Through the mediation of China, 22 August was fixed for the repatriation. But Myanmar could not create the environment in Rakhine and the repatriation failed again.

At a press conference on 15 November by the Ministry of the State Counsellor’s Office of Myanmar, the spokesperson made another venture to unduly attribute the non-commencement of repatriation of the Rohingya entirely to non-cooperation and non-respect of bilateral arrangements by Bangladesh, reports UNB.

They went further to resort to intimidation and harsh criticism of the international community for the recent initiatives on the accountability of the perpetrators for atrocity crimes, reports UNB quoting the officials of the foreign ministry.

Rejecting false accusation and misrepresentation of the facts over the Rohingya repatriation, Bangladesh on Sunday said the Myanmar government must stop such propaganda.

*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam.

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