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

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with

  • PM takes time to meet, greet Cambodians living in the US

    After landing in the US ahead of the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen was received by over 1,000 Cambodian-Americans including political analysts who welcomed him with greetings, fist bumps and selfies. Hun Sen also met with analyst Mak Hoeun, who had allegedly spoken ill

  • Khmer cinema classics back on big screen for free at WB Arena’s outdoor movies series

    On a recent Saturday evening at WB Arena, Bunsong was enjoying a tasty BBQ meal with his family after work on the long tables that had been arranged out in front of the restaurant as they watched a Khmer action movie on a big outdoor

  • PM heads to Washington for ASEAN-US special summit

    Regional and international issues and how to bring the ASEAN-US partnership to another level will be discussed at length as Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ministers arrive in Washington, DC, for a special summit on May 12-13. During the trip, Hun Sen and ASEAN

  • National Assembly refutes EU resolution

    The National Assembly (NA) has hit back at a European Parliament resolution condemning the political and human rights situation in Cambodia, calling it another display of the Parliament’s “double standards”. Key points of the resolution include a warning that the Parliament could exclude the