Attorney General Abubacarr Tambadou presents the Gambia’s case file against Myanmar to the International Court of Justice

The Gambia government has filed a genocide case against Myanmar at the UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) over its treatment of Rohingya Muslims.

Myanmar has been accused of carrying out mass murder, rape and destruction of communities in Rakhine state, in Myanmar.

The Gambia, a member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, has taken the legal lead in drafting the claim against Myanmar. It is being supported by other Muslim states. An initial hearing is expected at the ICJ in December.

Attorney General, Abubacarr Tambadou, said he wanted “to send a clear message to Myanmar and to the rest of the international community that the world must not stand by and do nothing in the face of terrible atrocities that are occurring around us.

“It is a shame for our generation that we do nothing while genocide is unfolding right before our own eyes.”

According to the case file “in October 2016, Myanmar’s military began what it described as “clearance operations” against the Rohingya.

“The genocidal acts committed during these operations were intended to destroy the Rohingya as a group … by the use of mass murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, as well as the systematic destruction by fire of their villages, often with inhabitants locked inside burning houses.

A “pervasive campaign of dehumanisation” had preceded the attacks, including demands from the local Rakhine Nationalities Development party for a ‘final solution’ to deal with the Rohingya, the application notes.

“During these operations, troops systematically shot, killed, forcibly disappeared, raped, gang-raped, sexually assaulted, detained, beat and tortured Rohingya civilians, and burned down and destroyed Rohingya homes, mosques, madrassas, shops and Qur’ans.

“There were mass killings of Rohingya men and boys, the application states.

“The UN fact-finding mission reported that at the village of Dar Gyi Zar, soldiers captured a group of up to 200 men, women and children, and took them to a paddy field, where they were told to kneel,” it says. The men and boys were separated.

“Women and children were taken to a house where they heard repeated gunfire and the screams of the men and boys outside. When they emerged, the women saw bodies of men and boys who had been piled up and burned using hay, harvested rice and shirts removed from the victims.

A copy of the case file against Myanmar

“Some were tied to trees and burned alive, it is alleged. Others had their throats cut with long knives.

The 600,000 Rohingya who remain in Myanmar are said to be in real and significant danger of further genocidal acts.”

The Gambia is calling for punishment for those responsible, compensation for the victims and an immediate end to attacks.

The Gambia’s case against Myanmar has been welcomed by human rights groups.

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