Media Release from Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK
The Rohingya continue to face a genocide that puts their very survival at risk, the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK) said in a new report today.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered provisional measures to prevent ongoing genocide against the Rohingya minority in Myanmar. However, a new report by the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK exposes how the Burmese military and other organisations are ignoring the provisional measures and that genocide is ongoing. It is the responsibility of the United Nations Security Council to uphold the ruling of the UN court, but it is failing to do so.
The report calls for the British government, as penholder on Myanmar at the UN Security Council, to urgently convene a meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the failure of the Myanmar military to uphold the ICJ rulings.
The Report, titled Prevent the unthinkable: The international community must leverage the International Court of Justice’s provisional measures order before it’s too late, sounds the alarm about the extremely volatile situation in Rakhine State amid the escalating armed conflict between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army.
Rohingya communities continue to be caught in the middle of the power struggle between the two sides. Prevent the unthinkable documents serious violations against Rohingya committed over the past six months, including killings, sexual violence, and shelling of homes, villages and mosques. Both sides have taken up positions in areas where the Myanmar military committed massacres in the 2016-2017 ‘clearance operations’, turning them into battlegrounds. Hundreds of Rohingya have been forced to temporarily flee their homes due to the fighting.
BROUK’s briefing details how Myanmar security forces continue to target Rohingya. In one incident, artillery shells fired by the Myanmar military landed in a Rohingya village, killing a 7-year-old Rohingya boy. Soldiers entered the village and attacked Rohingya as they were fleeing the shelling, stabbing at least one man in the head and arm, in conduct reminiscent of the 2016-2017 ‘clearance operations’.
In July, Border Guard Forces opened fire on a boat carrying Rohingya refugees returning from Bangladesh in Maungdaw township. At least seven people were killed as soldiers opened fire on the boat, including women and children. BROUK has further documented how security forces have killed at least another three Rohingya men in Sittwe since May 2022.
“First the Myanmar military were allowed to get away with Rohingya genocide, now they are being allowed to ignore a UN Court and keep committing genocide,” said Tun Khin, President of BROUK. “The situation in Myanmar may have faded from global headlines, but the genocide against the Rohingya is continuing, despite the orders of the International Court of Justice. “Over the past six months, the regime has killed, tortured and made life unbearable for the Rohingya, whose only ‘crime’ is their identity. The UN Security Council must act immediately to put an end to this desperate situation before it is too late. As Penholder on Myanmar at the UN Security Council it is up to the British government to take the lead on this, but they are not.”
Genocide case at the “World Court”
Prevent the unthinkable is published one week after Myanmar was expected to report to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on its compliance with the provisional measures order imposed by the Court in January 2020 as part of the genocide case brought by the Gambia against Myanmar. The order is effectively a legal injunction, requiring the Myanmar state to protect the Rohingya from further harm. Myanmar is legally obliged to report every six months to the Court on its compliance with these measures, with its most recent report due on 23 November 2022.
Myanmar is not under any obligation to make its report public, and no past reports have so far been released. BROUK and other NGOs have, however, urged for the report to be published to ensure more scrutiny of Myanmar’s actions.
In July this year, the ICJ rejected Myanmar’s preliminary objections to the case brought by the Gambia, clearing the way for proceedings to begin. The Court has ordered the Myanmar state to submit its counter-memorial (written submission defending the allegations of genocide) by 24 April 2023. Public hearings will follow at a later date.
An ongoing genocide
The some 600,000 Rohingya who remain in Rakhine State continue to live in an open-air prison, with severe restrictions on their freedom of movement and access to healthcare, education and livelihoods. Despite the legally binding order from the ICJ to ‘take all measures within its power’ to protect the Rohingya, Myanmar’s junta has done nothing to address the situation.
Discriminatory laws and policies, including the 1982 Citizenship Act which denies citizenship to the Rohingya, remain on the books. The regime continues to force the Rohingya to accept the National Verification Card (NVC) – documentation which denies their identity as Rohingya and forces them to accept the designation of ‘Bengali’, implying that the Rohingya are foreign interlopers from Bangladesh. Prevent the unthinkable documents how Rohingya are coerced into accepting the NVC under threat of being denied food assistance, access to education, travel authorisation, and paid work.
The junta has used the armed conflict in Rakhine State as an excuse to block roads and waterways, while imposing new restrictions on the UN and humanitarian agencies. This has had severe consequences for populations in the region, including food shortages and the closure of mobile clinics that are many Rohingyas’ only means of accessing healthcare.
The tightened restrictions have already impacted vulnerable Rohingya internally displaced persons confined to squalid camps for the past decade. 25,000 Rohingya IDPs in camps in Pauktaw township are becoming harder to reach with humanitarian assistance due to tight security at checkpoints, while Taung Paw camp in Myebon is currently completely cut off from humanitarian assistance.
“Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya are facing a desperate existence in Rakhine State. Instead of taking the ICJ’s legal order seriously, the junta has doubled down on genocidal practices. Rohingya women, men and children are trying to survive without health care, education and ways to make a living – essentially, they are living without hope,” said Tun Khin.
Recommendations to the international community
Prevent the unthinkable is BROUK’s sixth report on the Myanmar state’s non-compliance with the ICJ’s provisional measures. It underscores the junta’s continued defiance of the ICJ’s provisional measures order, the purpose of which is to protect the Rohingya, a group described by the Court as ‘extremely vulnerable’.
BROUK is urging the international community to find ways to leverage the provisional measures order, including by making concerted efforts to secure public hearings at the UN Security Council on the junta’s compliance with the order and coordinating follow-up actions. This includes the imposition of arms
embargoes and targeted sanctions on the junta, as well as providing support for international justice processes. It is crucial that more governments follow the lead of Canada and the Netherlands and publicly announce their formal support for the genocide case brought by the Gambia to the ICJ.
“The architects of the decades-long genocide against the Rohingya must be held responsible. Justice is the only way to stop the military’s reign of terror – not just against the Rohingya, but against all people in Myanmar suffering under the junta,” said Tun Khin.
For more information, contact Tun Khin on +44 7888714866
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