Category Archives: Human Rights

Myanmar Army Sues Reuters for Criminal Defamation

Myanmar police said the army had filed a lawsuit against Reuters news agency and a local lawmaker for criminal defamation, weeks after the military objected to a news story published about the death of two Rohingya Muslim women as a result of shelling in Rakhine state.

After publication, the army said its artillery fire had not killed the women or caused other civilian injuries and blamed insurgents of the Arakan Army (AA), who are fighting for greater autonomy in Rakhine state. The AA denied responsibility and accused the army. Reporters are banned from the area where the incident happened.

Police Lieutenant Kyaw Thu, the acting station head in Buthidaung township, in the north of Rakhine state, told Reuters both the news agency and the lawmaker were being sued under section 66D of the Telecommunications Act.

The section, which has been used to jail government critics in the Southeast Asian country, outlaws online defamation and carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison.

Kyaw Thu said that police had not yet contacted Reuters about the case and would seek to do so.

“We are trying to make an approach in so far as we can, to find out where Reuters news agency is, what kind of organization it is and the reporter and the editor,” he told a Reuters reporter on Sunday before putting down the phone.

He said that police had requested permission from the speaker of Myanmar’s national parliament with regards to proceeding with the case against lawmaker Maung Kyaw Zan, who represents Buthidaung.

The case follows an army complaint about a story published by Reuters on Jan. 25 in which the lawmaker was quoted as saying that the army’s artillery fire had caused the deaths of the two Rohingya women.

The army held a news conference on Feb. 4 to complain about the story, after which Reuters updated the story to reflect the army’s position.

The army subsequently filed a complaint objecting to the Reuters story to the Myanmar Press Council (MPC), which adjudicates disputes between authorities and news media.

“Reuters stands by the reporting that is of concern to the military and is the subject of an ongoing discussion with Myanmar’s Press Council,” a Reuters spokesperson said.

“We do not believe there is any basis for a criminal action against Reuters or our journalists under Myanmar law. We have not seen any criminal complaint against Reuters, and so cannot comment further at this time.”

The member of parliament said that it was unfair to bring a lawsuit against him.

“As a representative of the people, I listened to what the people told me and I spoke about it,” he told Reuters by phone. “I will just have to face the lawsuit and receive the judgement from the court.”

Zaw Min Tun, a spokesman for the military, confirmed the complaint against the lawmaker but said he did not know about the lawsuit against Reuters.

Rakhine state is the western region from which more than 750,000 Rohingya fled in 2017 following a military crackdown.

Myanmar is facing charges of genocide at the International Court of Justice in the Hague over the crackdown. The army denies genocide, saying it was fighting a legitimate battle against Rohingya militants who attacked police stations.

Two Reuters reporters were released from a Myanmar jail last May after spending more than 18 months behind bars, accused of breaking the official secrets act in a case that sparked an outcry from diplomats and human rights advocates.

Before their arrest in December 2017, they had been working on an investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys by security forces and Buddhist civilians in Rakhine state.

Source: Voice of America

APPEAL FOR INFORMATION – THEFT

The Police are looking for the man shown in the image below to assist with investigations into a case of theft at Hougang Central reported on 29 December 2019.

Anyone with information is requested to call the Police Hotline at 1800-255-0000 or submit information online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness. All information will be kept strictly confidential.

Source: Singapore Police Force

APPEAL FOR INFORMATION – DISHONEST MISAPPROPRIATION OF PROPERTY

The Police are looking for the woman shown in the image below to assist with investigations into a case of dishonest misappropriation of property which happened at Lorong 8 Toa Payoh on 16 February 2020 at about 11.00am.

Anyone with information is requested to call the Police Hotline at 1800-255-0000 or submit information online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness. All information will be kept strictly confidential.

Source: Singapore Police Force

EU Partially Suspends Tariff-Free Status For Cambodia Exports Over Rights Concerns

The European Union on Wednesday announced plans to suspend tariff-free access for around one-fifth of Cambodia’s exports to its market, citing drastic rollbacks on democracy and human rights in the Southeast Asian nation.

The partial suspension of preferential trade status Cambodia enjoys under the Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme for developing nations would affect around U.S. $1.1 billion of the country’s exports to the EU by reinstating tariffs on garments and footwear, as well as travel goods and sugar, beginning Aug. 12, unless it is blocked by the bloc’s governments or its parliament, the European Commission (EC) said.

The European Union will not stand and watch as democracy is eroded, human rights curtailed, and free debate silenced, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement.

For the trade preferences to be reinstated, the Cambodian authorities need to take the necessary measures.

On Nov. 12, the EU warned in a preliminary report that Cambodia has not taken enough measures to prevent a withdrawal of its EBA status, noting the country’s further deterioration of civil, political, labor, social, and cultural rights since the launch of a review process in February last year.

The EU launched the process to strip Cambodia of its preferential trade terms following the arrest of opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) President Kem Sokha in September 2017 and the Supreme Court’s decision to ban his party for its role in an alleged plot to topple the government two months later.

The ban, along with a wider crackdown on NGOs and the independent media, paved the way for Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) to win all 125 seats in parliament in the country’s July 2018 general election.

Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to the EC’s announcement on Wednesday with a statement suggesting that its decision had been triggered by many misperceptions and misunderstandings about the actual realities in Cambodia.

The ministry dismissed the decision as politically driven and devoid of objectivity and impartiality, and said Cambodia’s government would reject any attempt by external parties to use trade or aid as pretexts to justify their interference in Cambodia’s internal affairs.

It also referred to it as an example of a double standard when it comes to the EU’s preferential practices with other trading nations, without elaborating. On Wednesday, the EU Parliament ratified a landmark free trade deal with Vietnam over the objections of lawmakers citing the Southeast Asian nation’s human rights record.

In the lead up to Wednesday’s decision, despite warnings from civil society that loss of EBA status would devastate Cambodia’s working class, Prime Minister Hun Sen had said he had no interest in meeting the EU’s demands to improve his country’s rights record.

Cambodia is the second-largest beneficiary of EBA trade preferences after Bangladesh, accounting for more than 18 percent of all imports to the EU market under the EBA scheme in 2018.

EU imports from Cambodia totaled 5.3 billion euros (U.S. $5.8 billion) that year, nearly all of which entered the EU duty-free, taking advantage of EBA preferences.

Clothing and textiles a crucial industry in Cambodia that employs around one million people account for around 75 percent of EU imports from the Southeast Asian nation.

Call to ‘change course’

Kasit Piromya, a former Member of Parliament of Thailand and a board member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), on Wednesday called the EU decision an outcome that didn’t need to happen, and blamed it on Hun Sen’s drastic crackdown on human rights.

This decision by the EU to remove duty-free access on some Cambodian exports under the Everything but Arms programme heaps more pressure on Hun Sen and his government to reverse its dramatic slide towards authoritarianism, he said in an emailed statement.

Let this be clear: the responsibility to reverse course and regain the trade preferences does not lie with the EU, but with Hun Sen. It is up to him to change course and drop all charges against CNRP members and human rights defenders, allow opposition parties to return to the political fold, and amend laws to ensure Cambodians’ rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for New York-based Human Rights Watch, called the plan for a partial suspension a slap down of PM Hun Sen and his blatant disregard for human and labor rights.

While the EU gave Hun Sen ample opportunities to reverse his crackdown, the prime minister doubled down on his repressive tactics over the past year, Robertson said, leaving the EU no choice but to suspend some trade preferences, in line with EBA rules.

This is not the EU punishing Cambodia, but rather Hun Sen’s arrogant indifference to human rights hurting the Cambodian people who livelihoods may be impacted because of the EU’s decision, he said.

It’s his government’s failure to act to respect rights and fix problems identified by the EU that is driving this decision. PM Hun Sen should recognize this reality and come to the negotiating table now.

Robertson advised Hun Sen’s government to work to fix rights problems identified by the EU while Phnom Penh engages in six-months of negotiations with Brussels focused on, among other things, the imposition of tariffs on goods subject to suspension.

PM Hun Sen should stop his senseless threats to cease discussions on human rights and democracy with the EU, and recognize the only way forward is rescinding abusive laws, and ending punitive attacks, arrests and trials of activists and political opponents, he said.

Meanwhile, the EU needs to stand firm and set clear benchmarks for the government to meet in pursuit of real reforms on human and labor rights.

Vietnam trade pact

The EU’s decision to ratify the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) on Wednesday while suspending some of Cambodia’s privileges highlights the bloc’s determination to use trading partnerships as incentives to secure protections of environmental, human, and labor rights.

Last week, a group of international and Vietnamese nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) urged EU lawmakers to postpone consent on the EVFTA until Vietnam’s government agrees to reform laws they said has led to the jailing of as many as 300 government critics.

On Wednesday, however, the European Parliament consented to the pact with a vote of 401 in favor, 192 against and 40 abstentions.

EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan touted what he called the huge economic potential of the EVFTA in a statement issued after the vote, adding that efforts by Vietnam to improve labor rights in a bid to secure the deal proves that trade policy can be a force for good.

The EVFTA, inked in June, will eliminate 99 percent of tariffs on goods between the bloc and Southeast Asian country, although some will be reduced over a 10-year period and others will be limited by quotas.

The EU is Vietnam’s second-largest export market after the U.S., mostly for garment and footwear products, and in 2018 the Southeast Asian nation sent U.S. $42.5 billion worth of goods and services there, according to official data. Vietnam imported U.S. $13.8 billion from the EU that year.

The Vietnamese government has said that the EVFTA will boost EU exports to Vietnam by more than 15 percent and those from Vietnam to the EU by 20 percent by 2020, while the agreement will increase Vietnam’s gross domestic product by up to 5.3 percent annually between 2024 and 2028.

Copyright (copyright) 1998-2016, RFA. Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036

Thai Gunman Shot Dead in Mall; 26 Killed, 57 Hurt in Rampage

NAKHON RATCHASIMA, THAILAND – A soldier with a grudge gunned down 26 people and wounded 57 in Thailand’s worst shooting spree before he was fatally shot inside a mall in the country’s northeast Sunday, officials said.

Officials said the soldier was angry over a financial dispute, first killing two people on a military base and then went on a far bloodier rampage Saturday, shooting as he drove to the mall where shoppers fled in terror.

It took police sharpshooters 16 hours to end the crisis.

Authorities said Sgt. Maj. Jakrapanth Thomma was behind the attack in Nakhon Ratchasima, a hub for Thailand’s relatively poorer and rural northeastern region. Much of the shooting took place at Terminal 21 Korat, an airport-themed mall filled with colorful Lego sculptures, a merry-go-round and huge replicas of landmarks from around the world.

This incident was unprecedented in Thailand, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters as he gave the final tally Sunday morning after visiting the wounded in hospitals.

I hope this is the only one and the last incident, and that it never happens again. No one wants this to happen. It could be because of this person’s mental health in this particular moment, he said.

Prayuth said he was worried that people inside the mall could be accidentally hit by bullets fired by police, but added, I have checked, that didn’t happen.

Video taken outside the mall showed people diving for cover as shots rang out midafternoon Saturday. Many were killed outside the mall, some in cars, others while walking.

People flee in terror

Nattaya Nganiem and her family had just finished eating and were driving away when she heard gunfire.

“First I saw a woman run out from the mall hysterically,” said Nattaya, who shot video of the scene on her phone. “Then a motorcycle rider in front of her just ran and left his motorcycle there.”

Hundreds of people were evacuated from the mall in small batches by police while they searched for the gunman.

“We were scared and ran to hide in toilets,” said Sumana Jeerawattanasuk, one of those rescued by police. She said seven or eight people hid in the same room as her.

“I am so glad. I was so scared of getting hurt,” she said.

Shortly before midnight, police announced they had secured the above-ground portion of the mall, but were still searching for the shooter. About 16 hours later, officials held a news conference outside the mall to announce the gunman was fatally shot.

The officials did not release any details.

First victim: commanding officer

Defense Ministry spokesman Kongcheep told Thai media that the first person killed was the commanding officer of the 22nd Ammunition Battalion, in which the suspect also served. He said the gunman had fired at others at his base and took guns and ammunition before fleeing in an army Humvee.

City and neighborhood police officers, who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to release information, said the man fired shots as he drove to the mall. Thai Rath television aired mall security camera footage showing a man with what appeared to be an assault rifle.

The man also posted updates to his Facebook page during the rampage.

“No one can escape death,” read one post. Another asked, “Should I give up?” In a later post, he wrote, “I have stopped already.”

A photo circulated on social media that appeared to be taken from the Facebook page shows a man wearing a green camouflaged military helmet while a fireball and black smoke rage behind him. Jakrapanth’s profile picture shows him in a mask and dressed in military-style fatigues and armed with a pistol. The background image is of a handgun and bullets. The Facebook page was made inaccessible after the shooting began.

Airport-theme mall

Mall Terminal 21 Korat, a multilevel glass and steel mall is designed to resemble an airport terminal, complete with a mock control tower and departure gates. A large model passenger jet dangles from wires beside one of the main escalators.

Each of its seven retail floors is decorated to represent a different country. A giant replica of Paris’ Eiffel Tower soars to the ceiling, while a model of London’s Big Ben dominates another area, and a massive model of California’s Golden Gate Bridge spans an open courtyard. A two-story golden Oscar statue towers over a food court.

Many malls in Thailand, including Terminal 21’s namesake in Bangkok, have metal detectors and security cameras at entrances manned by uniformed but unarmed security guards. Checks on those entering are often cursory at best.

Mass shootings rare in Thailand

Gun violence is not unheard of in Thailand. Firearms can be obtained legally, and many Thais own guns. Mass shootings are rare, though there are occasional gun battles in the far south of the country, where authorities have for years battled a long-running separatist insurgency.

The incident in Korat comes just a month after another high-profile mall shooting, in the central Thai city of Lopburi. In that case, a masked gunman carrying a handgun with a silencer killed three people, including a 2-year-old boy, and wounded four others as he robbed a jewelry store. A suspect, a school director, was arrested less than two weeks later and reportedly confessed, saying he did not mean to shoot anyone.

Source: Voice of America

Thai Gunman Shot Dead in Mall; 26 Killed, 57 Hurt in Rampage

NAKHON RATCHASIMA, THAILAND – A soldier with a grudge gunned down 26 people and wounded 57 in Thailand’s worst shooting spree before he was fatally shot inside a mall in the country’s northeast Sunday, officials said.

Officials said the soldier was angry over a financial dispute, first killing two people on a military base and then went on a far bloodier rampage Saturday, shooting as he drove to the mall where shoppers fled in terror.

It took police sharpshooters 16 hours to end the crisis.

Authorities said Sgt. Maj. Jakrapanth Thomma was behind the attack in Nakhon Ratchasima, a hub for Thailand’s relatively poorer and rural northeastern region. Much of the shooting took place at Terminal 21 Korat, an airport-themed mall filled with colorful Lego sculptures, a merry-go-round and huge replicas of landmarks from around the world.

This incident was unprecedented in Thailand, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters as he gave the final tally Sunday morning after visiting the wounded in hospitals.

I hope this is the only one and the last incident, and that it never happens again. No one wants this to happen. It could be because of this person’s mental health in this particular moment, he said.

Prayuth said he was worried that people inside the mall could be accidentally hit by bullets fired by police, but added, I have checked, that didn’t happen.

Video taken outside the mall showed people diving for cover as shots rang out midafternoon Saturday. Many were killed outside the mall, some in cars, others while walking.

People flee in terror

Nattaya Nganiem and her family had just finished eating and were driving away when she heard gunfire.

“First I saw a woman run out from the mall hysterically,” said Nattaya, who shot video of the scene on her phone. “Then a motorcycle rider in front of her just ran and left his motorcycle there.”

Hundreds of people were evacuated from the mall in small batches by police while they searched for the gunman.

“We were scared and ran to hide in toilets,” said Sumana Jeerawattanasuk, one of those rescued by police. She said seven or eight people hid in the same room as her.

“I am so glad. I was so scared of getting hurt,” she said.

Shortly before midnight, police announced they had secured the above-ground portion of the mall, but were still searching for the shooter. About 16 hours later, officials held a news conference outside the mall to announce the gunman was fatally shot.

The officials did not release any details.

First victim: commanding officer

Defense Ministry spokesman Kongcheep told Thai media that the first person killed was the commanding officer of the 22nd Ammunition Battalion, in which the suspect also served. He said the gunman had fired at others at his base and took guns and ammunition before fleeing in an army Humvee.

City and neighborhood police officers, who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to release information, said the man fired shots as he drove to the mall. Thai Rath television aired mall security camera footage showing a man with what appeared to be an assault rifle.

The man also posted updates to his Facebook page during the rampage.

“No one can escape death,” read one post. Another asked, “Should I give up?” In a later post, he wrote, “I have stopped already.”

A photo circulated on social media that appeared to be taken from the Facebook page shows a man wearing a green camouflaged military helmet while a fireball and black smoke rage behind him. Jakrapanth’s profile picture shows him in a mask and dressed in military-style fatigues and armed with a pistol. The background image is of a handgun and bullets. The Facebook page was made inaccessible after the shooting began.

Airport-theme mall

Mall Terminal 21 Korat, a multilevel glass and steel mall is designed to resemble an airport terminal, complete with a mock control tower and departure gates. A large model passenger jet dangles from wires beside one of the main escalators.

Each of its seven retail floors is decorated to represent a different country. A giant replica of Paris’ Eiffel Tower soars to the ceiling, while a model of London’s Big Ben dominates another area, and a massive model of California’s Golden Gate Bridge spans an open courtyard. A two-story golden Oscar statue towers over a food court.

Many malls in Thailand, including Terminal 21’s namesake in Bangkok, have metal detectors and security cameras at entrances manned by uniformed but unarmed security guards. Checks on those entering are often cursory at best.

Mass shootings rare in Thailand

Gun violence is not unheard of in Thailand. Firearms can be obtained legally, and many Thais own guns. Mass shootings are rare, though there are occasional gun battles in the far south of the country, where authorities have for years battled a long-running separatist insurgency.

The incident in Korat comes just a month after another high-profile mall shooting, in the central Thai city of Lopburi. In that case, a masked gunman carrying a handgun with a silencer killed three people, including a 2-year-old boy, and wounded four others as he robbed a jewelry store. A suspect, a school director, was arrested less than two weeks later and reportedly confessed, saying he did not mean to shoot anyone.

Source: Voice of America

UN Top Court Issues Ruling on Provisional Measures to Protect Myanmar’s Rohingya

The U.N.’s top court ordered Myanmar on Thursday to protect Rohingya Muslims from genocidal acts and refrain from destroying evidence of alleged crimes that could be used in later hearings, prompting an ambiguous response from the government and applause from rights groups.

The small Muslim-majority West African nation filed a lawsuit at The Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) in November on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, accusing Myanmar of violating the 1948 Genocide Convention during the alleged expulsion of Rohingya to Bangladesh amid a military-led crackdown on the minority community in Rakhine state in 2017.

In response, the Myanmar government issued a statement taking issue with the court’s decision, saying the ICJ must still reach a factually correct finding on the charges that genocide occurred in northern Rakhine state, but did not state whether it would comply with the court’s legally binding ruling.

It is important for Myanmar that the Court reaches a factually correct decision on the merits of the case, said a statement issued by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

The ministry also took aim at heavy criticism from human rights groups over its handling of the Rohingya crisis.

The unsubstantiated condemnation of Myanmar by some human rights actors has presented a distorted picture of the situation in Rakhine and affected Myanmar’s bilateral relations with several countries, the statement said. This has hampered Myanmar’s ability to lay the foundation for sustainable development in Rakhine.

The ministry also said that an inquiry commission set up by Myanmar has found that genocide against Rohingya Muslims during a 2017 military-led crackdown did not occur.

Myanmar’s military meanwhile said that it would only follow instructions issued by the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party government.

We are not concerned about the ICJ’s provisional measures decision, said Major General Thaung Naing, the military’s deputy Judge Advocate General, responding to questions from the media during a press briefing in Naypyidaw. We are following orders from the government.

Though the government has not indicated whether it will comply with the ruling, Kyaw Tin Swe, minister of the State Counselor’s Office who led Myanmar’s delegation to the ICJ for the ruling, previously told Myanmar media that the country would “face” the court’s decision.

Kyaw Tint Swe said prior to leaving for the Netherlands that the country would consider its response to a ruling ordering provisional measures.

Whatever decision the ICJ makes, we will face it, and I can say we have the capacity to face the case,” he told a televised panel discussion in Myanmar.

”If they [the ICJ] decide to order provisional measures, we would think carefully about how to respond to these issues, he said. We would consult with highly skilled legal experts.

‘A distorted picture of Myanmar’

In an op-ed piece for the Financial Times on Thursday, Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, who also serves as foreign affairs minister, criticized rights groups over their stance towards Myanmar on the Rohingya issue, saying it has negatively affected Myanmar’s efforts to ensure stability and development in Rakhine.

Human rights groups have condemned Myanmar based on unproven statements without the due process if criminal investigation, she wrote.

The international condemnation has had a negative effect on Myanmar’s endeavors to bring stability and progress to Rakhine, she wrote.

It has presented a distorted picture of Myanmar and affected our bilateral relations, Aung San Suu Kyi wrote.

At a hearing in December, Gambia requested that the court order emergency provisional measures to protect Myanmar’s Rohingya from further rights abuses. Thousands of Rohingya died during the violence, which included indiscriminate killings, mass rape, torture, and village burnings, while more than 740,000 others fled to safety in neighboring Bangladesh.

A 2018 investigation of the crackdown by a U.N.-backed Independent International Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) on Myanmar found that the country had acted with genocidal intent against the Rohingya.

Both the Myanmar government and military have largely denied accusations of military-led atrocities during the crackdown.

Many rights groups have condemned Myanmar over its handling of the Rohingya crisis, during which thousands were killed and more than 740,000 others fled to Bangladesh.

The groups have extensively documented atrocities that occurred to the crackdown. A U.N. fact-finding mission that produced a nearly 200-page report found the country had acted with genocidal intent against the Rohingya and that the roughly 600,000 members of the minority group still living in Myanmar could face an even greater threat of genocide.

Myanmar’s civilian-led government has dismissed the accusations, saying that its security forces were conducting a clearance operation to rid the region of Rohingya militants who carried out deadly attacks on police outposts.

Military reviews report

On Monday, the government-appointed Independent Commission of Enquiry (ICOE), issued its final report concluding that security forces committed war crimes and serious human rights violations in Rakhine, but did not act with genocidal intent.

As concluded by the Independent Commission of Enquiry (ICOE) in its recent report, there has been no genocide in Rakhine, the Foreign Ministry’s statement said. The commission found that war crimes had occurred, and those are now being investigated and prosecuted by Myanmar’s national criminal justice system.

Major General Thaung Naing said the military is now analyzing the findings of the ICOE report submitted to the President Win Myint on Monday and that soldiers found guilty of wrongdoing will be charged and prosecuted by military tribunals.

The military has conducted only two rare courts-martial of officers and other soldiers accused of committing grave rights abuses during the 2017 crackdown on the Rohingya in northern Rakhine state.

In the first case, seven servicemen were each sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing a group of Rohingya, but were pardoned and freed about eight months later. The second case against soldiers accused of killing Rohingya civilians and dumping their bodies in mass graves is in progress.

The ICJ’s ruling lists four points in its provisional measures, mandating that Myanmar must prevent the killing or serious injury of the Rohingya, ensure that the military does not harm the Rohingya or conspire to commit genocide, preserve evidence related to the allegations, and report on its compliance with the measures until the ICJ issues a final decision on the case.

The ICJ will transmit its order to the U.N. Security Council as specified in the court’s statute.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who led the defense team at the three-day ICJ hearing in December, said that the Rohingya exodus was the result of an internal armed conflict started by Muslim insurgents who attacked police outposts, and that government forces responded with a clearance operation to remove the assailants from the area.

She had also asked the ICJ to drop the case.

‘Major victory for Rohingya’

International rights groups hailed the decision as a crucial measure for protecting Rohingya living in Myanmar from genocide and preserving evidence.

The ICJ order to Myanmar to take concrete steps to prevent the genocide of the Rohingya is a landmark step to stop further atrocities against one of the world’s most persecuted people, said Param-Preet Singh, associate international justice director at New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Concerned governments and U.N. bodies should now weigh in to ensure that the order is enforced as the genocide case moves forward, she said in a statement.

In response to the ruling, Nicholas Bequelin, regional director of London-based Amnesty International, called the decision a message to Myanmar’s senior officials: The world will not tolerate their atrocities, and will not blindly accept their empty rhetoric on the reality in Rakhine state today.

An estimated 600,000 Rohingya who remain there are routinely and systematically denied their most basic rights. They face a real risk of further atrocities, he said in a statement.

Myanmar must comply with the ICJ’s ruling and take immediate action to cease ongoing violations against the community and to prevent the destruction of evidence, he added.

Matthew Smith, chief executive of Southeast Asia-based Fortify Rights, applauded the court’s decision as a major victory for Rohingya everywhere.

We encourage Naypyidaw to comply fully with the order, he said in a statement. The [U.N.] Security Council will be seized of this issue and any failure to comply would invite unprecedented international action, including sanctions and more.

Charles Santiago, a Malaysian lawmaker and chair of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), said the ruling signifies that Myanmar can no longer act with impunity concerning its maltreatment of the Rohingya.

The ICJ decision sends a clear message to Myanmar that the world is watching, and that it cannot continue to restrict the rights of the Rohingya with impunity, he said in a statement.

The Rohingya have for decades faced oppression and violence at the hands of the Myanmar state, including restrictions on movement, citizenship, access to healthcare and education, and even the right to marry.

Santiago also called on Myanmar to immediately execute the ICJ’s order.

Myanmar needs to imminently implement the measures ordered by the ICJ, including providing a report of its progress to the court within four months, he said. The Rohingya still living inside Myanmar do so under an apartheid system, in close proximity to the security forces who have persecuted them for so many years.

Myanmar views the Rohingya as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, though many have lived in the country for generations, and subjects them to systematic discrimination, including restricting their movements and denying them access to basic services.

‘Historic day’

The International Campaign for the Rohingya also welcomed the ICJ’s ruling.

It is now imperative that the international community apply sufficient pressure on Myanmar to comply with the International Court of Justice’s rulings and end its genocide of the Rohingya, Simon Billenness, the group’s executive director, said in a statement.

He called on individual governments and corporations to take targeted action against Myanmar’s military, which is heavily involved in business and the economy.

We urge governments to impose tough sanctions on the Myanmar military and its business empire, he said. We further call on corporations to end any business relationships with companies owned or controlled by the Burmese army. There can be no longer be ‘business as usual’ with the perpetrators of genocide.

Tun Khin, president of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK) said the court’s marked a historic day.

This court ruling is evidence that we are heading towards justice, not just for the Rohingya people, but for all ethnic minority groups in Myanmar, he told RFA’s Myanmar Service.

Today is a historic day, because all ethnic minority groups, including the Rohingya, are subject to various forms of cruel treatment and killings in Myanmar. We Rohingya have been subjected to genocidal killings for a long time.

Both the military and Daw [honorific] Aung San Suu Kyi’s government have been telling the distorted narratives to the international community in many ways, Tun Khin added. But we have never been recognized in terms of justice from a world court as we have been today.

Myanmar also faces legal action over genocide-related accusations in the International Criminal Court at The Hague, the Netherlands, and in an Argentine court.

Copyright (copyright) 1998-2016, RFA. Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036