DHAKA: Bangladesh is ready to support an International Criminal Court investigation on Myanmar’s possible crimes against the Rohingya, authorities said on Thursday as the court’s top prosecutor wrapped up his official visit to Cox’s Bazar.
ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan arrived in Dhaka on Tuesday for a four-day visit to investigate possible crimes against humanity by the Myanmar military, which carried out a brutal crackdown in 2017 that forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people into neighboring Bangladesh.
“Today, he visited two camps and talked with several victims,” Bangladeshi Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Mizanur Rahman told Arab News.
“He requested our coordination in the investigation process and of course, we will provide all our cooperation.”
Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen met with Khan earlier this week and “assured (the) ICC prosecutor of Bangladesh’s support and cooperation concerning its investigation into (the) situation in Bangladesh/Myanmar,” the Foreign Affairs Ministry said, referring to the Rohingya case.
More than 1 million Rohingya people live in the squalid camps of Cox’s Bazar, after fleeing violence and persecution in Myanmar’s Rakhine State to neighboring Bangladesh almost six years ago.
Although Myanmar is not a member of the ICC, the court ruled it has jurisdiction over some crimes related to the Rohingya because of their cross-border nature.
“The world cannot forget about the Rohingya and the need for accountability,” Khan said in a tweet after his earlier meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Members of the Rohingya community in Cox’s Bazar had hoped to meet with Khan to question the lack of progress on their ICC case.
“We believe if we are able to meet with him, then we can ask him some of the questions and we can raise some concerns … related to (expediting) the process of the proceedings,” Maung Sawyeddollah, founder of community rights group Rohingya Students Network, told Arab News.
The ICC issued an arrest warrant in March for President Vladimir Putin for war crimes, accusing him of personal responsibility for the abductions of children from Ukraine after Khan launched an investigation last year.
On the other hand, a full inquiry of Myanmar’s alleged crimes, specifically the forced deportation of Rohingya from Rakhine State, had been approved by ICC judges in 2019. Khan’s trip this week is a follow-up to his first visit in February 2022.
“The case of the Rohingya preceded that of Ukraine,” Sawyeddollah said. “What we are seeing is a result in the case of Ukraine, but still there is no end result for us in the case of Rohingya. So why did that happen?”
In 2018, an independent UN fact-finding mission found that Myanmar’s military carried out mass killings and gang rapes of Rohingya Muslims with “genocidal intent.”
“We are the victims of genocide,” Nurul Amin, who founded Rohingya Girls School and provided informal lessons to over 100 girls in Cox’s Bazar, told Arab News.
Though Amin wants the ICC to continue its investigation, she is unsure of how it will impact the Rohingya.
“If they announce this is genocidal violence committed by Myanmar authorities, what will they (ICC) do? Can we go back to our homeland with rights and dignity?” AFP