Suu Kyi to lead defence against Rohingya genocide case at top UN court
Robie de Guzman • November 21, 2019 • 586
Yangon, Myanmar – Myanmar’s de facto leader will head a delegation to The Hague to defend her country against allegations of genocide before the International Court of Justice.
Aung San Suu Kyi — state counselor, foreign minister and once-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize — will lead a team to “defend the national interest of Myanmar at the ICJ,” her office said in a statement late Wednesday night.
The move comes after the Gambia on Nov. 11 filed an application to the top United Nations court alleging Myanmar had carried out mass murder, rape and destruction of communities in Rakhine state, including against the Muslim Rohingya minority.
The ICJ has set dates for Dec 10-12 for public hearings with oral observations from both the Gambia and Myanmar over the three days.
More than 730,000 Rohingya have fled the country to Bangladesh since August 2016 in the wake of a military crackdown in response to an alleged attack by an insurgent Rohingya group against police and border posts.
Doctors Without Borders estimates that at least 6,700 Rohingya, including 730 children under five years of age, died as a result of violence unleashed by soldiers.
In its application, the Gambia said the “genocidal acts committed during these (clearance) operations were intended to destroy the Rohingya as a group … by the use of mass murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, as well as the systematic destruction by fire of their villages, often with inhabitants locked inside burning houses.”
The Gambian delegation also asked the court to impose a series of provisional measures on Myanmar to prevent “extrajudicial killings or physical abuse; rape or other forms of sexual violence; burning of homes or villages; destruction of lands and livestock, deprivation of food and other necessities of life, or any other deliberate infliction of conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction of the Rohingya group.”
Another of the provisional measures requested is that Myanmar “does not destroy or make the evidence related to these events inaccessible” or “destroy or render inaccessible any evidence related to the events described in the Application, including without limitation by destroying or rendering inaccessible the remains of any member of the Rohingya group who is a victim of alleged genocidal acts, or altering the physical locations where such acts are alleged to have occurred.”
The ICJ indicated that the December hearings will be dedicated to the submission of these provisional measures.
This is the second court in The Hague considering opening legal cases against Myanmar. On Nov. 14, International Criminal Court judges authorized an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity in Myanmar.
“The Chamber accepted that there exists a reasonable basis to believe widespread and/or systematic acts of violence may have been committed that could qualify as the crimes against humanity of deportation across the Myanmar-Bangladesh border and persecution on grounds of ethnicity and/or religion against the Rohingya population,” the court announced.
Myanmar does not recognize the Rohingya as citizens and for decades has subjected them to widespread discrimination, including restrictions on freedom of movement. EFE-EPA
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday raised the alert level for Filipinos in Myanmar amid the political unrest in the country.
“In view of the developing critical situation in Myanmar, the Department of Foreign Affairs has raised the alert level for Myanmar to Alert Level 2 as a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of the remaining 1,273 Filipinos there,” the DFA said in a statement.
The raising of alert level status entails “restriction of non-essential movements, avoiding of places of protest, and preparation for possible evacuation,” the department said.
“Only returning workers with existing contracts shall be allowed to travel to Myanmar,” it added.
The DFA also reiterated its advice to Filipinos in Myanmar to exercise due caution, and monitor developments through reputable sources.
Filipinos in Myanmar are also urged to avoid places of protests, and to observe the guidance of the Philippine Embassy in Yangon.
The military took over the civilian government in Myanmar, detaining leaders including pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi last February 1 over allegations of election fraud.
The armed forces staged the coup in support of the opposition, who were demanding a rerun of the vote, claiming widespread fraud following a general election which Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party won by a landslide. Protests have since erupted in parts of the country against the military takeover.
Meanwhile, the DFA reported that a total of 55 Filipinos from Myanmar arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Wednesday afternoon.
They were flown home by a Myanmar National Airlines Flight arranged since January 15, the department said.
The COVID-19 relief flight was facilitated through the Philippine Embassy in Yangon, Myanmar and its Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs.
“Most overseas Filipinos who joined the flight were self-paying passengers, while two repatriates were directly assisted by the Philippine government by shouldering their overstaying fees and tickets,” the DFA said.
Last February 15, the DFA also repatriated 139 Filipinos from Myanmar via a chartered flight.
“The DFA through its network of 94 Philippine Embassies and Consulates General across the globe is always ready to assist our overseas Filipinos who wish to return to the Philippines due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions in their host countries,” DFA Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. said.
The United Nations (UN) has warned Myanmar’s military for its harsh treatment of protesters, saying that the “world is watching closely.”
In a press briefing, UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq said that UN Special Envoy on Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener has called on the Myanmar military to refrain from using violence and respect human rights.
“The right of peaceful assembly must fully be respected, and that demonstrators are not subjected to reprisals. She has conveyed to the Myanmar military that the world is watching closely, and any form of heavy-handed response is likely to have severe consequences,” she said.
Protests across Myanmar have grown after the military takeover on February 1 where top political leaders were arrested.
Several of the high officials detained include State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint.
There are also reports that the military use excessive force against the demonstrators.
According to the UN human rights office (OHCHR), as of February 12, more than 350 political and state officials, activists, and civil society members have been taken into custody. Several members of the media, monks, and students were also detained
“Several face criminal charges on dubious grounds, and most have received no form of due process or permitted legal representation, family visitations or communication,” according to the UN.
Burgener also reiterated UN Secretary-General António Guterres’s statement and called for a visit to Myanmar under agreeable conditions. -AAC
MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin on Tuesday (February 9) called for the “the complete restoration of the status quo ante” in Myanmar following military take over and detention of democratic leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
In a tweet, Locsin said “The Philippines has been supportive of Myanmar’s progress towards a fuller democracy.”
“The realization of this democratic process can only be achieved through the complete restoration of the-status quo ante,” he added.
Police have responded against escalating violence in protests against the military takeover of the government and the detention of the deposed civilian leader and other elected lawmakers.
Meanwhile, the DFA said it is preparing for the repatriation of 252 Filipinos who have signified interest to leave Myanmar.
Suu Kyi was arrested along with other democratically-elected lawmakers in a pre-dawn raid on February 1 by Myanmar military.
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