Despite the unanimous condemnation of violence against the 700,000 Rohingya, a Muslim minority in former Burma, no sanctions were imposed on the government of the former Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been held responsible.
Attempts to do so have been blocked in the UN Security Council by China, probably for fear that a similar request for condemnation might also come from the Uighur question. And the ICC International Criminal Court, which can only judge individuals, is not recognized by Myanmar. Thus, the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation, unable to move against a single state, has entrusted the Gambia, a country with an Islamic majority, already torn apart by 22 years of regime and systematic violation of human rights, with more sensitivity to these demands.
The issue, explains NOS, is extremely technical: the definition of “genocide” is controversial and the representative of the Gambia will have to demonstrate that there was an intention to eradicate a national, ethnic, religious or racial group, as such, in whole or in part. This intention is not generally a war crime but has a specific aggravating factor: in addition to systematic violence against a community there is also the premeditated intention to carry out “ethnic cleansing”.
Myanmar has always denied these accusations. The country calls reports of genocide “unilateral” and “misleading”: the army is said to have taken action against the Rohingya rebels because they carried out attacks on military units and police stations in the summer of 2017.
The Gambia is discussing its case today, Myanmar could defend itself tomorrow. For this reason, Prime Minister Aung San Suu Kyi has personally traveled to The Hague, a more unique than rare case. Apparently, the reason for Suu Kyi’s visible presence is to defend herself personally against these serious accusations.
The Netherlands and Canada announced yesterday in a joint statement that they would support the Gambia in this case. Both countries will “explore all possibilities for support and assistance” and will also request other countries to provide assistance.
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