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The Rohingya Refugees and their Quest for Justice

Shedding light on the prolonged struggle for justice faced by Rohingya refugees who escaped the horrors of genocide in Myanmar.

The Rohingya, a minority with a population of 1.3 million, originated from Rakhine State in Myanmar and have endured persecution since the revocation of their citizenship in 1982, rendering them stateless. They have faced discrimination, persecution, and severe human rights violations.

The military junta has executed multiple ethnic cleansing campaigns, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya and forcing many to seek refuge in countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand. In 2017, the junta nearly eradicated the Rohingya population, leaving around one million stranded in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.

In the refugee camp, life is horrifying. We don’t want to live any longer in the refugee camp," says Gemouang, a Rohingya refugee in Cox's Bazar. "There is no freedom of movement, no educational opportunities, and no job opportunities. We can’t even move from one camp to another.

Despite the UN declaring the Rohingya crisis as systematic genocide, international response has been limited. Geopolitical considerations, particularly China's influence in the region, have hindered effective action by Western nations.

In November 2019, Gambia, in collaboration with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), initiated a case—The Gambia v. Myanmar—before the ICJ in The Hague. The case alleged that Myanmar's actions against the ethnic Rohingya in Rakhine State violated the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Gambia, a signatory to the Genocide Convention since 1978, brought the case under Article 9, allowing disputes related to a state's responsibility for genocide to be submitted to the ICJ.

On November 16, 2023, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom jointly intervened in The Gambia's case against Myanmar at the ICJ. Their statement addresses alleged Genocide Convention violations, emphasizing acts such as mass murder, rape, and the systematic destruction of villages. They pledge commitment to accountability and stress the Court's role in dispute resolution.

However, any impact from this intervention is expected to take years, leaving the Rohingya in a dire situation in Bangladesh and Myanmar. The ongoing civil war in Myanmar since the 2021 coup has further dashed hopes of returning home to Rakhine state, leaving the resolution of their crisis uncertain.

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