The Financial Express

Trial of Myanmar military under universal jurisdiction  

Trial of Myanmar military under universal jurisdiction   

Under the principle of universal jurisdiction, the Argentinian judiciary has decided to hold a trial of the Myanmar military including army general Min Aung Hlaing and other senior officers, accusing the armed forces of genocide against the Rohingya. As the first ever jurisdiction case involving one of the worst crimes against an ethnic population in modern history, it marks a momentous development in terms of protecting the rights of the oppressed and sending a clear message of opposition to brutality resorted to by usurpers of power.

The inherent spirit of universal jurisdiction is that some crimes are so outrageous and horrific that those can be tried anywhere of the world. Although the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK) appealed to the Argentinian judiciary for opening such a case in November 2019, it is the Argentina's Federal Criminal Court in Buenos Aires that has made its stand clear on November 26 last in favour of humanitarian justice for the victims of systematic persecution and genocide.

Well, the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court are probing into the genocide case separately. So, question may be asked if the opening of a case by the Argentinian court adds value to the trial proceedings. The United Nations has held that it has all the making of a genocide and ethnic cleansing. Intriguingly, Aung San Suu Kyi, when in power briefly, even defended military action in Rakhine province by appearing before the International Court of Justice on December 10, 2019. Now detained by the same military junta, she is facing charges of electoral fraud, corruption and abuse of power among a host of other accusations.

Clearly, the trial held against the military by the UN's highest court takes a long time without bringing any redress to the aggrieved party or punishing the perpetrators. International political clout is to blame for such delays when the need is to urgently condemn and dump the oppressors to the dustbin of history. Unfortunately, crimes against humanity are overlooked on consideration of geo-political interests.

The International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court are thus rendered toothless tigers. In a situation like this, the symbolic value of a trial under the international jurisdiction is immense. First, it consolidates the unity of people fighting for the rights of the ethnic people the world over. Second, it works as an awakening of the conscience of people against all kinds of human rights violation, particularly those of the ethnic minority.

As long as the military junta receives support from big players on the international scene, it will not yield to any pressure whatsoever or can give a damn to verdicts delivered by international or universal jurisdiction courts. In case of Bosnia and Herzegovina mass extermination, there was no such support from big players and the crisis of humanity could be brought to an end ---albeit at a cost. The Rakhine Muslims are not so lucky to have unanimous support from all the big international powers. They are left in the lurch.

Bangladesh, which has been a host to the 1.1 million Rohingya refugees on humanitarian grounds, is compelled to suffer multi-dimensional ill effects because of this huge number of stateless Rohingya people. Apart from the financial burden, the social costs are proving heavy with Myanmar encouraging smuggling of deadly drugs from there to Bangladesh by way of Rohingya links and instigating anti-social groups to destabilise order and peace in camps. Proliferation of drug smuggling and other crimes in and along the clandestine routes between Myanmar and Bangladesh has become a cause for serious concern.

The military junta is playing all its trump cards in order to stall repatriation of the Rohingya. If a regular army can commit cold-blooded murder against its own people demonstrating against military rule and demanding return of power to the people's representatives, it becomes blind to its abomination. Nothing nice and good, least of all democratic values and ethical consideration, can be expected of it.

The trial under the universal jurisdiction thus announces the moral standpoint of righteous people who ostracise the monsters of modern time in no uncertain terms and pronounce them guilty of crime against humanity. The rule by the usurpers does not receive official approval from even their supporters who make secret deals in order to save their reputation on the international stage. This is really painful because political intrigues get the better of humanitarian causes.

The universal jurisdiction declares the moral right of the champions of humanity against the monstrosity of the evil powers and their covert cohorts. This is expected to bolster the moral obligation of the international community by throwing their weight behind the resolution adopted at the 76th UN General Assembly. Mooted by the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) and the European Union (EU), the resolution titled, "The Situation of Human Rights of Rohingya Muslims and Other Minorities in Myanmar" was adopted for the first time by consensus. The resolution has sought repatriation of the Rohingya and other minority people driven out by the junta from Myanmar.

It marks the beginning of mounting stronger diplomatic pressure on the Myanmar military with the USA, Canada, Switzerland, Argentina, Mexico, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia and Japan joining the two blocs. The issue of Rohingya repatriation thus comes into focus and maybe, those absent from the UN session will see merit in backing the resolution for repatriation and rehabilitation of the homeless people on their own soil.                        


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