OIC draws $1.2m for Gambia to run Rohingya genocide case

An OIC fund raising campaign for The Gambia to support its legal battle seeking redressal of Rohingya genocide in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has drawn US$1.2 million so far while the West African nation said it urgently needed $5million to pay the lawyers, reports BSS.

Officials at the general secretariat of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the grouping of 57 countries having large Muslim populations, said Bangladesh appeared to be the largest contributor to the fund donating half a million dollar of the US$ $1.2 million.

They said Saudi Arabia disbursed US$300,000, Turkey, Nigeria and Malaysia each deposited $100,000 while the remaining $100,000 came from Islamic Solidarity Fund, a special OIC fund.

The Gambia, on the other hand, said it immediately needed $5 million to pay a Washington-based law firm, which it engaged in the ICJ to fight the battle.

“We need $5 million right now to pay our international lawyers and support staffs,” Gambia’s justice minister Dawda A Jallow told BSS on the sidelines of a OIC foreign ministers conference (CFM) last week in Niger.

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He added that The Gambia actually was under “intense pressure” over the payment issue from the international lawyers group prosecuting the case in the ICJ.

Jallow estimated that the eventual cost to run the legal battle was likely to be over $10 million until getting the final verdict at ICJ.

The Gambia appointed a team of international lawyers of “Foley Hoag Legal Firm of Washington DC alongside a group of Gambian legal experts headed by himself.

The CFM meeting witnessed both Gambia and Bangladesh making a strong plea to rally fellow OIC states financial support for the case while the general secretariat of the grouping opened a special account to receive contributions.

OIC secretary general Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen told the CFM that Rohingyas were kicked out by their ‘own country’ and ‘denied all human rights’.

Asked by a BSS correspondent at a post-CMF press conference what was OIC step to mobilise the fund for the genocide case the OIC secretary general said he urged all member states to donate more fund.

“It’s an (ethnic) cleansing . . . (it) is something unimaginable in this 21st century,” he said referring to the atrocities against Rohingyas.

Myanmar`s leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Gambia`s justice minister Aboubacarr Tambadou, left, listen to judges in the court room of the International Court of Justice for the first day of three days of hearings in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday, 10 December 2019. Photo: UNB

Bangladesh currently hosts over 1.1 million forcefully displaced Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar district that borders Myanmar’s Rakhine state, their homeland which these forcibly displaced people fled since 25 August, 2017 after the Buddhist-majority country’s military launched against them a ruthless crackdown.

In November last year, being backed by the OIC Gambia filed the case in ICJ accuse Myanmar of spearheading the genocide while Canada and the Netherlands stood by the West African nation at the court.

The ICJ in The Hague on 23 January under unanimous decision ordered provisional measures to prevent further acts of genocide against the Rohingyas in Myanmar as the case was underway.

As its subsequent measures The Gambia submitted to the ICJ over 500 pages of legal and factual argumentation, supported by over 5,000 pages of annexed evidentiary materials as well as several video files, satellite imagery, maps and figures.

The Gambian justice minister told BSS that his country gathered evidence from Tweeter and Facebook as part of its efforts to gather proof to support the case through two lawsuits in US courts.

Myanmar authorities were carrying out a hate campaign against Rohingyas using the social media.

“All this work has led to the accumulation of legal fees of over US$ 5 million, Unfortunately, the law firm is yet to receive any significant payment for services they rendered since September 2019,” Jallow said.

The Gambian minister said his country so far managed to pay the firm only US$ 300,000, an amount which is less than 10 per cent of the bill.

A Bangladesh foreign ministry official familiar with the OIC affairs, meanwhile, said Dhaka planned to take an extra initiative to raise fund for Gambia through knocking all OIC member states one to one.

In a recent interview with BSS, Commonwealth secretary general Patricia Scotland said her office was reviewing possibilities of forming a “large pool of lawyers” drawn from the grouping’s member states to support The Gambia in fighting the case in ICJ.

Earlier, foreign minister AK Abdul Momen urged at different global multilateral platforms to create a ‘Friends of the Gambia group’ for promoting to make accountable the persons responsible for the atrocities.