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The three-day hearing of the Rohingya genocide trial at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ended on 12 December with a ray of hope among the persecuted Rohingyas who have been crying for justice for over two years.

The Gambia presented arguments that Myanmar’s forces carried out widespread and systematic atrocities that constituted genocide. In doing so Myanmar violated its obligations under the 1948 Genocide Convention, Reuters quoted the Gambia lawyer as saying.

On 11 November on behalf of the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Gambia, a tiny African country of 2.35 million people, installed a hope of justice among Rohingya by filing a case against Myanmar on charges of breaching convention under Section 3 of the international convention on genocide.

Both the Gambia and Myanmar are signatories to this convention in 1948.

The African country requested the court to order provisional measures to protect the Rohingyas.

During the hearing on 11 December, Myanmar state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi rejected the Rohingya genocide allegations outright. She admitted that the security forces had committed excesses during the clearance operation and several hundred people were killed.

Suu Kyi also alleged the Gambia had presented before the court an incomplete and misleading picture of the situation in the Rakhine state of Myanmar.

The Myanmar side also urged the ICJ to revoke the genocide case and refrain from issuing special measures.

When the arguments and counter-arguments were going on between the Gambia and Myanmar in The Hague, the United States imposed sanctions on four Myanmar military and police commanders and two army units for involvement in what it called "ethnic cleansing" and other human rights abuses against the country's Rohingya Muslims, reported Reuters.

On the contrary, the Chinese media outlet Global Times, on 10 December ran an opinion piece titled ‘The West should listen to Suu Kyi at The Hague’.

Instead of standing by the persecuted community, the media outlet advocated for Myanmar saying Suu Kyi knows her country, the difficulties in solving the Rohingya problem.

"China will unswervingly support Myanmar on the international stage to stand up for its legitimate rights and national dignity, and to safeguard the overall situation of its development and stability,” the media outlet quoted Chinese state councillor and foreign minister Wang Yi who recently visited Myanmar.

Such rivalries between two mighty countries might influence the fate of the judgment which will take several years for delivery.

When the trial was going on at the Peace Palace of the Hague in the Netherlands, Rohingyas at crowded camps in Cox’s Bazar of Bangladesh prayed for justice.

The implementation of the ICJ’s verdict ultimately depends on the decision of the United Nations Security Council.

It is unfortunate and disappointing that some influential member states of UN Security Council are openly backing Myanmar.

Although crimes against humanity were carried out on the Rohingyas, many countries did not take any stand against this due to their geo-political and national interests.

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

At least 700,000 Rohingyas entered Bangladesh within a few months fleeing killing, rape and torture in Muslim majority Rakhine state of Myanmar.

Citing Doctors Without Borders, BBC reports at least 6,700 Rohingya, including at least 730 children under the age of five, were killed during the atrocities committed by the Myanmar military.

Amnesty International also says the Myanmar army raped and abused Rohingya women and girls as well.

Despite concrete evidence, the persecuted Rohingyas have to wait for justice, depending on how the big powers act in the days ahead.

The US and China being its development partners, Bangladesh should continue diplomatic efforts to garner support from the international community for facilitating the law to take its own course and ensure the repatriation of over 1 million Rohingyas to their country of origin.

In perspective of reality and experience, justice seekers have to wait and see whether rights wins over might, whether human conscience prevails over muscle power.


*Rabiul Islam is a journalist at Prothom Alo. He can be reached at rabiul.islam@prothomalo.com.

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