POST TIME: 8 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 8 September, 2018 12:05:36 AM
ASEAN MPs hail ICC ruling on Rohingyas
Ruling opens clear avenue for justice: Amnesty

ASEAN MPs hail ICC ruling on Rohingyas

Lawmakers of the countries belonging to the ASEAN bloc have welcomed the decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Thursday, which ruled that it could exercise jurisdiction over the alleged crime of forced deportation of the Rohingya population, despite Myanmar not being a party to the Rome Statute. Meanwhile, Amnesty International said the ruling of the ICC has opened a clear avenue for justice for hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas.

“This is a milestone decision and a step forward towards accountability for the alleged atrocity crimes against the Rohingya population,” said a press release issued by ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) yesterday quoting its chair Charles Santiago, a member of the Malaysian Parliament.

“This ruling, however, is for now just on the jurisdiction to investigate around the alleged crime of deportation and we must be cautious in our optimism: it remains imperative that we continue to seek other international justice mechanisms, as well as the United Nations Security Council referral of Myanmar to the ICC for the wide array of atrocity crimes its leaders have been accused, including genocide and other crimes against humanity,” he said.

“This doesn’t mean the international community can take our collective foot off the pedal,” he added.

“The ICC now has the opportunity to initiate a full investigation. This means bringing those responsible for the alleged human rights violations to account and possibly putting an end to the longstanding discrimination and injustices this community has faced in Myanmar,” said APHR board member Eva Kusuma Sundari, an Indonesian lawmaker. “This will undoubtedly bring some much-needed hope and optimism for the more than one million Rohingya who have suffered under decades of brutal tyranny in Myanmar. We look forward to the recommendations of the preliminary examination concerning the crimes allegedly committed against the Rohingya people and hope for a full investigation and trial of those accountable for all alleged crimes under the jurisdiction of the ICC,” she said.

In the meantime, the international community, including ASEAN states, must continue pushing for other potential mechanisms that could bring accountability and justice for all those victims of crimes across Myanmar and ensure those displaced can return, APHR said.

Following the ICC ruling on Thursday, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director Biraj Patnaik said, “During the Myanmar military’s horrifying campaign of ethnic cleansing more than 725,000 Rohingya women, men and children were deported to Bangladesh,”  

“This decision is a significant step in the right direction which opens up a clear avenue of justice for the Rohingya who were driven out of their homes, often as soldiers opened fire on them and burned down their villages. The Court has sent a clear signal to the Myanmar military that they will be held accountable,” he said.

“Forced deportation is just one of a raft of crimes committed against the Rohingya. Amnesty International has

documented extensively how the military’s crackdown also included murder, rape, torture, forced starvation, the targeted burning of Rohingya villages and the use of landmines,” said the official.

“While we welcome the ICC’s decision, the international community must see it as a spur to further action,” he said.

In particular, the United Nations Security Council should still refer the situation in Myanmar to the ICC, so that the Court can investigate all crimes against humanity committed against the Rohingya, as well as the military’s crimes against other ethnic minorities in Kachin and northern Shan,” he added.