U.N. Court Rejects Myanmar Claims, Will Hear Rohingya Case

By Associated Press
July 22, 2022

The U.N.’s highest court will hear a case alleging that Buddhist-majority Myanmar committed mass genocide against the Rohingya ethnic majority.

Judges at the United Nations’ highest court on Friday dismissed preliminary objections by Myanmar to a case alleging the Southeast Asian nation is responsible for genocide against the Rohingya ethnic minority.

The decision establishing the International Court of Justice’s jurisdiction cleared the way for the highly charged case, brought in 2019 by Gambia, to go ahead.

That sets the stage for court hearings airing evidence of atrocities against the Rohingya that human rights groups and a U.N. probe say breach the 1948 Genocide Convention. In March, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the violent repression of the Rohingya population in Myanmar amounts to genocide.

Gambia filed the case amid international outrage at the treatment of the Rohingya. The African nation argued that both Gambia and Myanmar are parties to the convention and that all signatories have a duty to ensure it is enforced.

Judges at the court agreed.

Reading a summary of the decision, the court’s president, U.S. Judge Joan E. Donoghue, said: “Any state party to the Genocide Convention may invoke the responsibility of another state party including through the institution of proceedings before the court.”

A small group of pro-Rohingya protesters gathered outside the court’s headquarters, the Peace Palace, ahead of the decision with a banner reading: “”Speed up delivering justice to Rohingya. The genocide survivors can’t wait for generations.”

One protester stamped on a large photograph of Myanmar’s military government leader, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing.

The court rejected arguments raised at hearings in February by lawyers representing Myanmar that the case should be tossed out because the world court only hears cases between states and the Rohingya complaint was brought by Gambia on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

The judges also dismissed Myanmar’s claim that Gambia could not bring the case to court as it was not directly linked to the events in Myanmar and that a legal dispute did not exist between the two countries before the case was filed.

Gambia’s Attorney General and Justice Minister Dawda Jallow insisted in February that the case should go ahead and that it was brought by his country, not the OIC.

“We are no one’s proxy,” Jallow told the court.

The Netherlands and Canada are backing Gambia, saying in 2020 that the country “took a laudable step towards ending impunity for those committing atrocities in Myanmar and upholding this pledge. Canada and the Netherlands consider it our obligation to support these efforts which are of concern to all of humanity.”

However, the court ruled Friday that it “would not be appropriate” to send the two countries copies of documents and legal arguments filed in the case.

Myanmar’s military launched what it called a clearance campaign in Rakhine state in 2017 in the aftermath of an attack by a Rohingya insurgent group. More than 700,000 Rohingya fled into neighboring Bangladesh and Myanmar security forces have been accused of mass rapes, killings and torching thousands of Rohingya homes.

In 2019, lawyers representing Gambia at the ICJ outlined their allegations of genocide by showing judges maps, satellite images and graphic photos of the military campaign. That led the court to order Myanmar to do all it can to prevent genocide against the Rohingya. The interim ruling was intended to protect the minority while the case is decided in The Hague, a process likely to take years.

The ICJ case was complicated by last year’s military coup in Myanmar. The decision to allow the Southeast Asian nation’s military-installed government to represent the country at the February hearings drew sharp criticism. A shadow administration known as the National Unity Government made up of representatives including elected lawmakers who were prevented from taking their seats by the 2021 military coup had argued that it should be representing Myanmar in court.

The International Court of Justice rules on disputes between states. It is not linked to the International Criminal Court, also based in The Hague, which holds individuals accountable for atrocities. Prosecutors at the ICC are investigating crimes committed against the Rohingya who were forced to flee to Bangladesh.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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As Officials Look Away, Hate Speech in India Nears Dangerous Levels

HARIDWAR, India — The police officer arrived at the Hindu temple here with a warning to the monks: Don’t repeat your hate speech.

Ten days earlier, before a packed audience and thousands watching online, the monks had called for violence against the country’s minority Muslims. Their speeches, in one of India’s holiest cities, promoted a genocidal campaign to “kill two million of them” and urged an ethnic cleansing of the kind that targeted Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

When videos of the event provoked national outrage, the police came. The saffron-clad preachers questioned whether the officer could be objective.

Yati Narsinghanand, the event’s firebrand organizer known for his violent rhetoric, assuaged their concerns.

warned that “inciting people against each other is a crime against the nation” without making a specific reference to Haridwar. Junior members of Mr. Modi’s party attended the event, and the monks have often posted pictures with senior leaders.

“You have persons giving hate speech, actually calling for genocide of an entire group, and we find reluctance of the authorities to book these people,” Rohinton Fali Nariman, a recently retired Indian Supreme Court judge, said in a public lecture. “Unfortunately, the other higher echelons of the ruling party are not only being silent on hate speech, but almost endorsing it.”

increasingly emboldened vigilante groups.

Vigilantes have beaten people accused of disrespecting cows, considered holy by some Hindus; dragged couples out of trains, cafes and homes on suspicion that Hindu women might be seduced by Muslim men; and barged into religious gatherings where they suspect people are being converted.

Myanmar was an example of how the easy dissemination of misinformation and hate speech on social media prepares the ground for violence. The difference in India, he said, is that it would be the mobs taking action instead of the military.

“You have to stop it now,” he said, “because once the mobs take over it could really turn deadly.”


The Dasna Devi temple in Uttar Pradesh state, where Mr. Narsinghanand is the chief priest, is peppered with signs that call to prepare for a “dharm yudh,” or religious war. One calls on “Hindus, my lions” to value their weapons “just the way dedicated wives value their husbands.”

The temple’s main sign prohibits Muslims from entering.

vast network of volunteers to mobilize voters and secure victories.

When he was chief minister of Gujarat, Mr. Modi saw firsthand how unchecked communal tensions could turn into bloodletting.

In 2002, a train fire killed 59 Hindu pilgrims. Although the cause was disputed, violent mobs, in response, targeted the Muslim community, leaving more than 1,000 people dead, many burned alive.

Rights organizations and opposition leaders accused Mr. Modi of looking the other way. He rejected the allegations as political attacks.

took an oath to turn India into a Hindu state, even if it meant killing for it.

role model.”

he said.

telling them.

The police arrested Mr. Narsinghanand on Jan. 15, and he was charged in court with hate speech.

“He said nothing wrong,” said Swami Amritanand, an organizer of the Haridwar event. “We are doing what America is doing, we are doing what Britain is doing.”

Mr. Amritanand said the call for arms was justified because “within the next 10 to 12 years there will be a horrible war that will play out in India.”

Late last month, the monks again sounded a violent call to create a Hindu state, this time at an event hundreds of miles away from Haridwar in Uttar Pradesh. They threatened violence — referencing a bombing of India’s assembly — if Mr. Narsinghanand was not released.

Ms. Pandey described their actions as defensive. “We must prepare to protect ourselves,” she said.

To the Haridwar police, the event in Uttar Pradesh did not count as a repeat offense. Rakendra Singh Kathait, the senior police officer in Haridwar, said Mr. Narsinghanand was in jail because he had acted again in the city; others like Ms. Pandey got a warning.

“If she goes and says it from Kolkata, it doesn’t count as repeat here,” Mr. Kathait said.

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U.S. warns of heightened risks associated with business in Myanmar

Demonstrators protest against the military coup and demand the release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in Yangon, Myanmar, February 6, 2021. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

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WASHINGTON, Jan 26 (Reuters) – The United States on Wednesday issued a business advisory for Myanmar, warning of heightened risks associated with doing business in the country especially when the military is involved, nearly a year after a the army took power in a coup.

The advisory warned that businesses should be wary of illicit finance risks as well as reputational and legal risks of doing business and utlizing supply chains under Myanmar military control.

“The coup and subsequent abuses committed by the military have fundamentally changed the direction of the economic and business environment in Burma,” the advisory said.

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Myanmar’s military seized power in a coup on Feb. 1 last year, after complaining of fraud in a November 2020 general election won by democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi’s party. Election monitoring groups found no evidence of mass fraud. read more

The junta has been fighting on multiple fronts since seizing power, cracking down with deadly force on protests while intensifying operations against ethnic minority armies and newly formed militias allied with the ousted government.

“The return of military rule in Burma brings with it high levels of public corruption and a deficient anti-money laundering regime,” Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said in a statement.

The advisory cited state-owned enterprises, gems and precious metals, real estate and construction projects and arms, military equipment and related activity as entities and sectors of greatest concern in the country, adding that they have been identified as providing economic resources for the junta.

The advisory said state-owned enterprises, including Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise and Myanma Timber Enterprise, played a large role in the country’s economy and generate about half of the junta’s revenue.

The advisory comes after oil majors TotalEnergies (TTEF.PA) and Chevron Corp (CVX.N), partners in a major gas project in Myanmar, said last week they were withdrawing from the country, citing the worsening humanitarian situation following the coup. read more

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Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Chris Gallagher; Editing by Alex Richardson

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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In Myanmar, a Notable Burmese Family Quietly Equipped a Brutal Military

The family’s initial fortune came from jute, a natural fiber that is used to make rope and twine. The jute mill was nationalized during the military’s disastrous venture into socialism, after its first coup in 1962.

Burma, once lauded for its fine schools and polyglot cosmopolitanism, sank into penury. The ruling junta renamed the country Myanmar.

Mr. Jonathan Kyaw Thaung’s father was sent to Northern Ireland, where he escaped Myanmar’s privations. His siblings scattered to Thailand, Singapore, the United States and Britain. The family’s graceful villa in Yangon moldered, as did the rest of the country.

But even as many of them headed abroad, the family remained connected to Myanmar and traveled there to do business. Their path back was eased by the extended family tree, which included high-ranking Tatmadaw officers, cabinet ministers and confidants of junta chiefs.

A cousin married U Zeyar Aung, an urbane, English-speaking general who led the Northern Command and the 88th Light Infantry Division, both of which the United Nations has tied to decades of war crimes against Myanmar’s own people. He later was the railway minister, then the energy minister and subsequently led the national investment commission, over the time the Kyaw Thaungs were vying for military contracts.

Myanmar’s patronage networks are a tangle of roots that bind family trees. Generals’ children tend to marry within tight circles, perhaps to other military progeny or the offspring of business cronies.

As the Tatmadaw began loosening control over the economy, engaging in a fire sale of assets that had once been the military’s fief, that elite class of the well-connected swooped in to profit. Mr. Jonathan Kyaw Thaung, whose mother is Irish, returned to Myanmar, along with siblings and cousins who had also been raised overseas.

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