World to hear Ro­hingya’s tes­ti­monies

New Straits Times - - Letters -

THE Per­ma­nent Peo­ples’ Tri­bunal’s (PPT) con­clud­ing ses­sion on Myan­mar, which will con­vene at the Fac­ulty of Law, Univer­siti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, from Sept 18 to 22, has as­sumed ex­traor­di­nary sig­nif­i­cance in light of the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil’s unan­i­mous call to the Myan­mar gov­ern­ment to end its mil­i­tary cam­paign against the Ro­hingya on Sept 13.

The na­ture of this mil­i­tary cam­paign and the hor­ren­dous con­se­quences em­a­nat­ing from it will be vividly de­scribed in the tes­ti­monies of its vic­tims at the tri­bunal. It is not just the se­verely per­se­cuted Ro­hingya Mus­lims who will speak. The Chris­tian Kachin and Bud­dhist Ta’ang mi­nori­ties will also be pre­sent­ing se­ri­ous allegations of war crimes, crimes against hu­man­ity and the crime of geno­cide.

An im­por­tant di­men­sion to the per­se­cu­tion of the Ro­hingya — how it has im­pacted Bangladesh and its peo­ple — will be high­lighted through the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the Na­tional Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion of Bangladesh dur­ing the pro­ceed­ings.

Renowned ex­pert wit­nesses will also tes­tify. Among them is Greg Stan­ton, re­search pro­fes­sor in Geno­cide Stud­ies and Preven­tion at the Ge­orge Ma­son Univer­sity, the United States. He is re­garded in­ter­na­tion­ally as one of the most author­i­ta­tive voices on the crime of geno­cide.

The pros­e­cu­tion will be led by Doreen Chen of Aus­tralia, a hu­man rights lawyer who is the co­founder and di­rec­tor of Des­ti­na­tion Jus­tice, through which she sup­ports per­se­cuted hu­man rights de­fend­ers, par­tic­u­larly in South­east Asia.

PPT had also in­vited Myan­mar State Coun­sel­lor Aung San Suu Kyi, Vice-Pres­i­dent Myint Swe and Armed Forces Com­man­derin-Chief Se­nior Gen­eral Min Aung Hlaing to ap­pear be­fore the tri­bunal or to make a rep­re­sen­ta­tion. They did not re­ply. Kofi An­nan, the chair of Rakhine Com­mis­sion, did re­spond to PPT’s in­vi­ta­tion. He is not able to at­tend.

The ar­gu­ments of the pros­e­cu­tion, the views of the ex­pert wit­nesses and the tes­ti­monies of the vic­tims will be an­a­lysed by a panel of judges with ex­em­plary cre­den­tials. They come from dif­fer­ent coun­tries and back­grounds.

They are Daniel Feier­stein (Ar­gentina), a re­searcher at CONICET (Na­tional Coun­cil for Sci­en­tific and Tech­ni­cal Re­search); Zu­laiha Is­mail (Malaysia), a trustee of the Per­dana Global Peace Foun­da­tion; He­len Jarvis (Cam­bo­dia-Aus­tralia) Per­ma­nent Peo­ples’ Tri­bunal vice-pres­i­dent; Gill H. Boehringer (Aus­tralia), for­mer lead of Law School, Mac­quarie Univer­sity, Syd­ney, Aus­tralia; Nursyah­bani Kat­ja­sungkana (In­done­sia), hu­man rights lawyer; Chowd­hury R. Abrar (Bangladesh), teaches In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions and di­rects the Refugee and Mi­gra­tory Move­ments Re­search Unit at the Univer­sity of Dhaka, Bangladesh; Shadi Sadr (Iran), hu­man rights lawyer; and Nello Rossi (Italy), so­lic­i­tor-gen­eral at the Supreme Court of Cas­sa­tion, Italy.

The find­ings of the judges will be com­mu­ni­cated to UN hu­man rights bod­ies, in­clud­ing its Hu­man Rights Coun­cil in Geneva. The Of­fice of the Ad­viser on the Preven­tion of Geno­cide in New York will also re­ceive the find­ings. Civil so­ci­ety groups all over the world would also be brought into the pic­ture. The me­dia has a crit­i­cal role to play in dis­sem­i­nat­ing the find­ings of the tri­bunal.

One hopes that the me­dia will em­pha­sise the two prin­ci­ple goals of the tri­bunal.

ONE, ex­pos­ing with in­con­tro­vert­ible ev­i­dence the true sit­u­a­tion in Myan­mar and us­ing that as a ba­sis for spread­ing pub­lic aware­ness; and,

TWO, strength­en­ing in­ter­na­tional law and in­ter­na­tional in­sti­tu­tions in our en­deav­our to en­sure that jus­tice is done to the Ro­hingya, Kachin and other mi­nori­ties in Myan­mar.

A Ro­hingya woman and a child near the Bangladesh bor­der.

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