Legal battle cannot be the last battle for forcing Myanmar: Military action can't be ruled out
The Rohingyas are now hoping of getting justice following a lawsuit with the highest UN court and the ICC's approval to probe crimes committed against them. Rohingya leaders believe that the steps will help mount pressure on Myanmar to grant them citizenship and other rights. On November 11, Gambia filed a case with the UN's International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing Myanmar of committing genocide against the Rohingyas. Two days later, several rights bodies filed a lawsuit with an Argentine court against Myanmar State Counsellor and Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and several top Myanmar officials over the same issues. On Thursday, the International Criminal Court (ICC) approved a full investigation into Myanmar's alleged crimes against the persecuted community. Amnesty International said the ICC's decision marked an important step in the fight for justice and accountability in Myanmar and sent a strong message to the orchestrators of atrocities that their days of impunity are numbered.
The Rohingyas were denied citizenship by Myanmar through a 1982 citizenship law. They have also been deprived of basic rights, including freedom of movement, health services and government jobs. Over the last four decades, waves of violence in Myanmar's Rakhine State led hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas to flee to neighboring Bangladesh. Since August 2017, some 750,000 Rohingyas fled a brutal military campaign and took shelter in Bangladesh's southern district of Cox's Bazar, joining some 300,000 others who had fled earlier waves of violence. UN independent investigators found elements of genocide in it. Yet, the UN Security Council took no concrete actions against Myanmar mainly because of opposition from China and Russia that have veto powers.
Meanwhile, a resolution on violation of human rights of Rohingyas and other minorities in Myanmar was adopted in the 74th UN General Assembly on Thursday. The ICC can hold responsible individuals, not a state, for the crimes against Rohingyas. But the ICJ can hold Myanmar responsible as a state. ICC's approval of investigation gives Rohingya victims a renewed hope that the architects of the brutal genocide against them may one day be produced for trial. Bangladesh should support the case strongly providing necessary information and documents.
The decision of the international court will be a heavy pressure on Myanmar to take back the Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh. But that itself will not solve the problem. Bangladesh has to create the ultimate situation for forcing Myanmar government to take back their own citizens. Myanmar knows the weakness of our government and we must demonstrate our strength and international support. We do not think that military action against Myanmar action can be totally ruled out.