By Sorwar Alam
ANKARA (AA) – The International Criminal Court (ICC) is giving Myanmar until July 27 to submit its written observations on the alleged deportation of over 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh.
“Considering that the crime of deportation is alleged to have commenced on the territory of Myanmar, the chamber deems it appropriate to seek observations from the competent authorities of Myanmar on the prosecutor's request, ” the court said in a decision published Thursday.
The decision was published after a closed-door hearing on the Rohingya issue at the ICC in The Hague, the Netherlands.
The judges at the court asked Myanmar “to submit written observations, either publicly or confidentially”, on “the possibility of the Court’s exercise of territorial jurisdiction over the alleged deportation of members of the Rohingya people from Myanmar into Bangladesh.”
It also asked Myanmar to submit observations on “the circumstances surrounding the crossing of the border by members of the Rohingya people from Myanmar into Bangladesh,” according to the statement.
As Myanmar is not a member of the ICC, the world's first permanent war crimes court does not have automatic jurisdiction in the country.
However, the prosecutor asked the court to look into the alleged crime of deportation of Rohingya and a possible prosecution through Bangladesh, which hosts around one million Rohingya refugees.
– Rohingya crisis
Since Aug. 25, 2017, more than 750,000 refugees, mostly children and women, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community, according to Amnesty International.
At least 9,400 Rohingya were killed in Rakhine from Aug. 25 to Sept. 24 last year, according to Doctors Without Borders.
In a report published recently, the humanitarian group said the deaths of 71.7 percent or 6,700 Rohingya were caused by violence. They include 730 children below the age of 5.
The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings — including of infants and young children — brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by security personnel.
In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.