Myanmar’s shadow government drops objections to Rohingya genocide case at ICJ

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Women carry children through water as hundreds of Rohingya refugees arrive under cover of darkness by wooden boats from Myanmar to the shore of Shah Porir Dwip in Teknaf near Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, September 27, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

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Feb 2 (Reuters) – Myanmar’s shadow government, set up after last year’s military coup, said it accepted the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to hear allegations according to which the country allegedly committed genocide against its Rohingya minority.

Before the military took power last year, Myanmar’s government led by now-ousted Aung San Suu Kyi filed preliminary objections with the ICJ over Gambia’s case in a move seen as likely to delay the process.

The National Unity Government (NUG), a parallel administration comprising ousted lawmakers in exile, said in a statement on Tuesday that it had withdrawn all preliminary objections to the case.

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Still, it is unclear whether this would affect the judicial process since the NUG said that through a “bureaucratic idiosyncrasy”, the ICJ communicated with Myanmar diplomats in Brussels who were under the control of the junta.

“If the ICJ recognizes the army, it would encourage the junta to continue and intensify its daily atrocities,” the NUG said in a statement.

He urged the ICJ to deal with Myanmar’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Kyaw Moe Tun.

The ICJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment and a spokesperson for Myanmar’s junta did not respond to a phone call seeking comment.

More than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state in 2017 after a military crackdown.

Rights groups have documented killings of civilians and burning of villages and UN investigators have concluded that the military campaign, launched after attacks on security forces by Rohingya insurgents, was executed with a “genocidal intent”.

In December 2019, Myanmar’s then-civil leader Suu Kyi attended hearings in The Hague to ask judges to dismiss the case.

Suu Kyi was tried by the junta and faces years in prison, although her government’s impeachment sparked mass protests and a bloody military crackdown on dissent.

As Myanmar’s military government struggles for international recognition, sources close to the case have previously said the junta has pledged to the ICJ to submit court-ordered reports every six months on the situation with the Rohingya. The reports are not public. Read more

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Reporting by Reuters staff Writing by Ed Davies Editing by Robert Birsel

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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