The Financial Express

Myanmar junta's predicament

| Updated: January 18, 2022 21:54:30

Myanmar junta's predicament

Myanmar junta's defiance of the international community's call for holding the perpetrators of crimes against humanity in the country's western state of Rakhine now seems to be more desperate than ever. The junta has ordered its military officials under the regional operation commands not to receive any arrest warrant, summons or letter from the International Criminal Court (ICC) sent to the military officials responsible for the campaign to exterminate minority Rohingya Muslims. It may be recalled that in 2019, the ICC opened a case to prosecute senior military leaders who had been behind the massacre of Muslims in Rakhine. The Myanmar regime also issued similar instruction to its military officials concerned to ignore any such communication from Argentinian Federal Court. Notably, the Argentinian court,    responding to a plea from the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK) in November, 2021, decided to probe the war crimes the Myanmar military, also locally called, Tatmadaw,   alleged to have committed against the Rohingya people.  The instructions as reported from the Myanmar junta to its field level military commanders are a clear indication of how shaky it has become about the mounting pressure on the regime to comply with international law or face the consequences. As the regime's said directive implies, it is trying to defy the ICC's order on the pretext of Myanmar's not being a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court adopted in 1998 in Rome. In fact, this is the reason why the ICC-directed investigation into the alleged persecution and ethnic cleansing of the minority Rohingyas by the Tatmadaw during its 2017 crackdown in Rakhine could not be carried out on Myanmar's soil. And since Bangladesh is a party to the Rome Statute and that the Rohingyas fleeing Myanmar regime's persecution had sought refuge in Bangladesh, the ICC's probe was limited to interviewing the victims residing in the Cox's Bazar camps (of Bangladesh). Interesting to note, the ICC's decision followed an Argentine lawsuit which named former de-facto civilian leader or Sate Counsellor of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, for the war crimes committed against the Rohingya people. Digressing a bit, one may also recall here that this former State Counsellor of Myanmar had essentially defended the crimes of the military by saying at the top UN court, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), that if (!) they (the military) had committed any human rights abuse in Rakhine, then they  would be prosecuted within their 'military justice system(!)'. How insensitive and hypocritical of a Nobel peace laureate! So, it comes as no surprise that she has got her just deserts when the elected civil government she led was ousted through   February coup of 2021 by the same military she so ardently defended at ICJ.

And Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), also complicit in  the Tatmadaw's atrocities in Rakhine at that time, now seems to have come to terms with the truth. Being the major partner of the Myanmar government in exile, the National Unity Government (NUG), which is now spearheading the anti-junta rebellion together with other insurgent groups, NLD is now experiencing 'if' and what  the Tatmadaw is capable of. Meanwhile, about 1400 anti-junta protestors have been killed and hundreds of others have been thrown in jail in Myanmar. No wonder that in August 2021, the NUG declared that it accepted ICC's jurisdiction meaning crimes against humanity committed by  the Myanmar governments in office since 2002, when the Rome Statute became effective, would come within the purview of ICC. Such decision on  NUG's part amounts to its recognition of the Rohingya people's struggle to hold the Myanmar military leaders behind the genocidal campaign against them to account.  Seemingly, the noose is tightening around Myanmar junta's neck. It must face facts.


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