Gambia's Big Move Against Myanmar a 'Clear Message'

Nation files case at ICJ to 'stop Myanmar's genocidal conduct' against Rohingya Muslims
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 11, 2019 7:43 AM CST
Gambia Takes Myanmar to Court: 'Genocide Is Unfolding'
In this Nov. 22, 2017, photo, a 22-year-old woman who says she was raped by members of Myanmar's armed forces in June and again in September is photographed in her tent in the Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh.   (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, file)

Gambia filed a case Monday at the United Nations' highest court accusing Myanmar of genocide in its campaign against its Rohingya Muslim minority and asking the International Court of Justice to urgently order measures "to stop Myanmar's genocidal conduct immediately." Gambia filed the case on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Abubacarr Marie Tambadou, Gambia's justice minister and attorney general, told the AP he wanted to "send a clear message to Myanmar and to the rest of the international community that the world must not stand by and do nothing in the face of terrible atrocities that are occurring around us." The case filed at the ICJ alleges that Myanmar's campaign against the Rohingya is "genocidal in character because [it is] intended to destroy the Rohingya group in whole or in part."

Myanmar's military began a harsh counterinsurgency campaign against the Rohingya in August 2017 in response to an insurgent attack. More than 700,000 Rohingya fled to neighboring Bangladesh to escape what has been called an ethnic cleansing campaign involving mass rapes, killings, and the torching of homes. The International Criminal Court's prosecutor also asked judges at that court in July for permission to open a formal investigation into alleged crimes against humanity committed against the Rohingya. Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said she wants to investigate crimes of deportation, inhumane acts, and persecution allegedly committed as Rohingya were driven from Myanmar, not a member of the court, into Bangladesh, which is. "It is a shame for our generation that we do nothing while genocide is unfolding right before our own eyes," said Tambadou.

(More Myanmar stories.)

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