Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rohingya give testimony in push for Myanmar probe



Rohingya give testimony in push for Myanmar probe

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Rohingya refugees wait to receive a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in Kutupalong refugee camp in Ukhia, Bangladesh Kutupalong on August 10. AFP

Rohingya give testimony in push for Myanmar probe

Rohingya refugees expelled from Myanmar in a bloody crackdown were due to testify in court for the first time on August 17 to urge a full judicial investigation into allegations of war crimes committed against them.

A military campaign in Myanmar in 2017 is believed to have killed thousands and forced some 750,000 members of the Muslim minority group to flee to refugee camps in Bangladesh, bringing accounts of rape, murder and arson.

The witnesses were set to testify remotely to a court in Argentina, which is considering invoking the principle of “universal jurisdiction” to bring a case against Myanmar’s leaders for genocide and crimes against humanity. The legal premise holds that some acts – including war crimes and crimes against humanity – are so horrific they are not specific to one nation and can be tried anywhere.

Argentina’s courts have taken up other universal jurisdiction cases in the past, including in relation to former dictator Francisco Franco’s rule in Spain.

Proceedings against Myanmar and its leaders are already under way at the International Criminal Court and the UN’s International Court of Justice.

But August 17’s hearing “will be the first time … that the Rohingya will have the opportunity to tell a court of all the atrocities they suffered”, former UN special rapporteur on Myanmar Tomas Ojea told reporters.

Five survivors of sexual violence were to testify to the Federal Criminal Appeal Court in Buenos Aires remotely from refugee camps in Bangladesh, according to activist group Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK.

“For decades, the Myanmar military has with impunity tried to wipe the Rohingya out as a people,” said Tun Khin, president of the group, which petitioned the Argentine government to open the case. “With Myanmar both unwilling and unable to investigate itself – especially since the coup – the international community must step in and support all justice efforts.”

Myanmar denies committing genocide, justifying the 2017 operations as a means of rooting out Rohingya militants. The Myanmar public was largely unsympathetic to the Rohingya’s plight, while activists and journalists reporting on the issues faced vitriolic abuse online.

After the military was accused of genocide, civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi travelled to The Hague, the Netherlands to defend the generals at the UN’s top court. Months later, they deposed her in a coup.

The country has conceded that some soldiers might have used “disproportionate” force in the 2017 crackdown, but insists they will be investigated and prosecuted by Myanmar’s criminal justice system.

MOST VIEWED

  • No payment required for travellers taking rapid Covid tests on arrival

    Ministry of Health officials said there would be no payment required for the rapid Covid-19 tests given to travellers who arrive in Cambodia from November 15 onwards after the quarantine requirement is lifted for fully vaccinated people. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine told The Post on

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • Police arrest Canadian with 167kg of drugs

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on November 15 placed a Canadian national in pre-trial detention in connection with smuggling and possessing 167kg of illegal drugs. Deputy National Police chief in charge of anti-drug enforcement Mak Chito told The Post on November 15 that the man was arrested

  • Banteay Meanchey gunfight sees 15 Thais arrested, three officers injured

    The Banteay Meanchey Military Police have arrested 15 Thai suspects and their accomplices after a gun battle between two Thai groups caused injuries to three police officers in the early hours of November 21, local authorities said. National Military Police spokesman Eng Hy said that according to