Myanmar Foreign Ministry Acknowledges ICJ Ruling, Repeats Denial of Genocide Against Rohingya

By The Irrawaddy 24 January 2020

YANGON—In response to the International Court of Justice’s ruling approving provisional measures against Myanmar, the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it took note of the decision, while reiterating that there was no genocide against the Rohingya, as alleged by The Gambia.

The African nation filed a genocide case against the Southeast Asian country in November at the ICJ for alleged human rights abuses against the Rohingya. As the case could take years, The Gambia asked the court to order that some preliminary measures be taken against Myanmar.

More than 700,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar to neighboring Bangladesh in late 2017 after the government’s security forces launched clearance operations in northern Rakhine State in response to a series of attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army on police outposts in the area. UN investigators said the operations had “genocidal intent”. Both the Myanmar government and military have denied the accusation.

In December, Myanmar State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi told the World Court that it should remove the case from its list or reject The Gambia’s request that provisional measures be imposed.

A recent report by a Myanmar government-backed investigation commission probing alleged human rights abuses denied genocidal intent by security forces against the Rohingya but admitted that “war crimes, serious human rights violations and violations of domestic law took place”. However, on Thursday, the UN’s top court decided to impose urgent measures against Myanmar to protect the Rohingya’s rights and end the alleged genocide.

In its statement issued late Thursday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Myanmar had appeared before the court during hearings in the case to help the judges “make the correct factual findings on the proposition made by The Gambia that genocide occurred in Rakhine State in 2016-17.”

“We should all be aware that one of the historical functions of the provisional measures has been to protect the court against possible accusation of failure to take preventive action at the start of a case,” the statement said.

It also quotes the ICJ’s president, Abdulqawi Yusuf, as saying that the court’s decision in the present proceedings in no way prejudges the question of the jurisdiction of the court to deal with the merits of the case or any questions relating to the admissibility of the application or to the merits of the case themselves.

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