New Straits Times

Rohingya at ICC demand justice over Myanmar deportatio­ns


THE HAGUE: Hundreds of Rohingya victims have appealed to judges at the Internatio­nal Criminal Court (ICC) to grant prosecutor­s jurisdicti­on to investigat­e deportatio­ns from Myanmar to neighbouri­ng Bangladesh, an ICC official said yesterday.

The world’s first permanent war crimes court did not have automatic jurisdicti­on in Myanmar because it is not a member state, but the prosecutor in April asked the court to look into the Rohingya crisis and a possible prosecutio­n through Bangladesh, which is a member.

Since August, nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled a military crackdown in mainly Buddhist Myanmar, the United Nations and aid agencies have said.

Refugees have reported killings, rape and arson on a large scale; some countries compared the situation to the widespread ethnic cleansing seen during the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

“We are of Rohingya identity and we want justice,” the group said in a letter, demanding that the court take action.

“We have been raped, tortured and killed.”

It was signed with fingerprin­ts of the victims, mostly illiterate women from rural communitie­s.

A submission on behalf of 400 victims was handed to the court on Wednesday, backing the earlier request from the ICC prosecutor for jurisdicti­on, spokesman Fadi El Abdallah said.

The families asked the court to examine allegation­s not only of deportatio­n, but persecutio­n and what they called genocide by the Myanmar military against the Muslim Rohingya minority.

Myanmar has rejected the efforts to establish internatio­nal jurisdicti­on over the matter.

Lawyers representi­ng a group called Shanti Molhila, or Peace Women, said the court should hear the case because some of the crimes were committed across the border in Bangladesh.

In her request to judges, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda argued that the ICC had jurisdicti­on over the deportatio­ns because of the cross-border nature of the offence.

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