Jul 22, 2022 - World

UN court rejects Myanmar's objections to Rohingya genocide case

Rohingya Muslims in a refugee camp in Bangladesh on July 10.
Rohingya Muslims in a refugee camp in Bangladesh on July 10. Photo: Guven Yilmaz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The International Court of Justice on Friday rejected Myanmar's objections to a case alleging that it is responsible for genocide against the Rohingya ethnic minority, allowing it to go forward.

Why it matters: The U.S. and several other countries have declared that Myanmar's military committed genocide and crimes against humanity in its treatment of the country's Rohingya minority in Rakhine State.

What they're saying: The top UN court ruled Friday that Gambia had standing to bring the case against Myanmar in 2019, as they are both signatories to the 1948 Genocide Convention, and because members of the convention "have a common interest to ensure the prevention, suppression and punishment of genocide."

  • "For these reasons, the Court concludes that The Gambia, as a State party to the Genocide Convention, has standing to invoke the responsibility of Myanmar for the alleged breaches of its obligations under Articles I, III, IV and V of the Convention, and that, therefore, Myanmar’s second preliminary objection must be rejected," the court ruled.
  • Myanmar also objected to Gambia's lawsuit because it is backed by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which consists of 57 member states. The court ruled, however, that the OIC's support of the lawsuit is irrelevant since Gambia filed the lawsuit in its own name.

The big picture: Military leaders of Myanmar, which has been ruled by a military junta since overthrowing the country's democratically elected government in February 2021, have been accused by the United Nations of indiscriminately killing and gang raping Rohingya people, assaulting children and burning entire Rohingya villages.

  • The International Court of Justice in 2020 ordered Myanmar authorities to protect Rohingya from genocide, saying they should comply with obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
  • Since staging the coup, Myanmar's military junta has killed hundreds of demonstrators and arrested thousands more.
  • It also sentenced Aung San Suu Kyi, the country's ousted leader and a Nobel laureate, to a total of 11 years in prison through several secret court cases that have been condemned by rights groups as sham trials, according to the BBC.
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